David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D.

note:   Among David W. Mantik’s impressive contributions to this
case has been his study of the incapacity or unwillingness of Professional
historians to come to grips with this case.  Here, in one of his
chapters from
MURDER IN DEALY PLAZA (2000)—which has been expanded here
the  addition of three  new  notes  (A),
(B), and (C)–he takes them to task and provides a broad historical perspective
that sheds light on the assassination.

The most dangerous and vicious of all
forgeries are those committed in behalf of a cause—the cause of a nation, of an
institution, or of a leader—and intended to bring about a permanent
falsification of history.

—Allan Nevins

Between 1994 and
1998, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) processed for release
approximately 60,000 JFK assassination documents. Its staff also conducted new
depositions and interviews with many medical witnesses, some completely new to
the case. This wide panorama of fresh sources amassed a compelling case for a
post-assassination cover-up in the medical evidence, an area heretofore almost
totally ignored by historians. Inasmuch as the assassination is a major event
of the twentieth century, and may well represent a turning point in American
history, it is incumbent upon historians to understand and explain this
event—as well as those that surround it. To date, however, a deafening silence
has reigned on these matters, as historians have preferred to tolerate the
harvest of The Warren Report rather than to cultivate their own fields.

Possibly inquisitive
historians, naturally enough, have no craving to be tainted as balmy by the
media paintbrushes, as well might befall them were they to admit publicly to
such curiosity. The plain fact, though, is that this controversial issue
frightens historians: most genuinely fear for their own professional prestige,
and many fear subconsciously at what would gaze back at them from the
subterranean depths of this case were they to peer too intently into the well
of history. Given the unique nature of these events, and their profound impact
on America, this fear is understandable. Ultimately, however, these issues must
be faced honestly and responsibly. It is no longer sufficient merely to quote a
lawyer turned journalist on these serious questions, nor can the matter be left
to the most amateur of professions—the media.

Given the
manipulation of the autopsy materials (which were controlled by the Secret
Service), the post-assassination cover-up necessarily required the assistance
of key government personnel, probably at a high level, possibly even the
highest. The growing body of evidence for this conclusion is now simply too
great to ignore. Heretofore, the historians’ tacitly donned mantle of innocence
radiated an aura of genteel credibility, but that mantle has become threadbare.
If historians continue to deny the deceitful reality underlying the
post-assassination cover-up, they, too, risk becoming accessories after the
fact. The bar of history is even now calling them to the stand. The time for a
response has come.


In the summer of
1993, shortly before a visit to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, I was called
to consult on Patricia Lake, an elderly patient with lung cancer. She
communicated to me a goal that no other patient—before or since—has ever
disclosed: she was writing an autobiography that she hoped to turn into a movie
or a play. From a colleague, I soon learned that she was the only child of
Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), the newspaper magnate
and jingoist for the Spanish-American War, who had been immortalized by Orson
Welles in the movie, Citizen Kane (1941). The striking fact, though, is
that Patricia Lake had lived most of her life without knowing who her true
father and mother were, which was why she had started writing her autobiography
so late. This extraordinary story was recounted in her obituary (The Los
Angeles Times
31 October 1993, p. 14).

Like my patient who
had a secret personal history, countries also have hidden histories, as David
W. Belin learned with some distaste in 1975, when he served as Executive Director
of the Rockefeller Commission. On 22 December 1974, Seymour Hersh had written a
front-page story for The New York Times that alleged illegal CIA
activities in the US. The next month, President Gerald Ford chose Nelson
Rockefeller to lead an investigation of the CIA. Belin, a former counsel to the
Warren Commission, was selected by Ford3 (who had also served on the
Warren Commission) to be its Executive Director. During his tenure, Belin
learned about the “family jewels,” a secret record of CIA activities.4
He would later write:

The family jewels
contained references to CIA consideration of plots to assassinate Cuban premier
Fidel Castro, Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, and possibly Premier
Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. (Belin,
Final Disclosure 1988, p. 93)

Ford subsequently
initiated new legislation that made it illegal for an American to
“. . . engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination”
(Belin 1988, p. 128). A similar law was passed (regarding the assassination of
US presidents) after the death of JFK. Prior to his murder, it was not federal
crime to kill a US president. When a Pandora’s box such as this is opened, life
becomes unpredictable; the publication of these revelations altered most
Americans’ view of their own history, particularly since these discoveries came
close upon the heels of the Watergate fiasco. Now that another treasure trove
has been opened—the new JFK documents and interviews released by the
Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB)—our view of American history must
inevitably change once again.

The Hidden History of
the JFK Assassination

For nearly four
decades, historians have chosen to hide from the thorny issues posed by the JFK
assassination. Their silence—actually a near abdication5—has permitted
the media to set the agenda for one of the major events of the twentieth
century. When forced to offer an opinion on this matter, historians have
chosen, with few exceptions, to recite the Warren Commission version at face
value. Given this straitjacket, they have therefore assumed that Oswald did it.
That era of innocence has been dying for some time, however, and, by any
reasonable measure, is now irrevocably moribund.

Historians are faced
with a troubling new challenge—how to write an accurate and responsible history
of 22 November 1963, one that takes into account a great deal of new evidence,
but also one that cannot avoid turning previous views thoroughly upside down.
Since he also served as a board member for the ARRB, Henry F. Graff, Emeritus
Professor of History at Columbia University, is a particularly illustrative
example of this dying paradigm. Graff chose a remarkably hagiographic title for
his high school textbook in American history, in which he stated unequivocally:
“He [Oswald] denied any knowledge of the shootings, but the evidence against
him was overwhelming” (Graff, America: the Glorious Republic 1988, p.

A similar attitude
toward Oswald was portrayed in an early post-assassination textbook:

[JFK] was shot in the
head by an assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. . .  [who] had fired
upon the President with a rifle from the window of a distant warehouse. No one
actually saw him pull the trigger. He was apprehended largely because, in his
demented state, he killed a policeman later in the day. . .. He denied his
guilt, but a mass of evidence connected him with the crime. . .. foreign
countries [were convinced] that some nefarious conspiracy lay at the root of
the tragedy. Oswald, the argument ran, was a pawn, his murder designed to keep
him from exposing the masterminds who had engineered the assassination. No
shred of evidence supported this theory
. (John A. Garraty, The American
Nation: A History of the United States
1966, emphasis added)  

A later textbook
opened the door to conspiracy just a crack: “However, many questions remained
unanswered. Private citizens have launched their own investigations. Many still
believe that Oswald was part of a conspiracy. Still, no convincing evidence
exists” (Thomas V. DiBacco, History of the United States 1991, pp.
698–699). A fourth text pushed the door open just a bit more: “In subsequent
years, however, questions arose about the assassination; and new
investigations—including one commissioned by a committee of the House of
Representatives in 19797—cast doubt on the Warren Commission’s
findings” (Carol Berkin, A History of the United States: American Voices
1992, p. 790).  

Historians’ Fear of
“Inarticulate Unpopularity”

The historians’ fear
of ridicule has surely been a dominant motive for their silence. Merely by
waving their denigrating paintbrushes over all lone gunman critics, the media
has succeeded in painting any potentially curious historian into a corner where
he can expect to be labeled as either a “conspiracy theorist” or an “assassination
buff.” This is a patently absurd situation, inasmuch as historians who study
the Lincoln assassination8 are never called “conspiracy theorists,”
and those who study the Garfield or McKinley assassinations are not called
“assassination buffs.” It is only about the Kennedy assassination9
that the media have persisted in launching these ad hominem attacks.10

Moreover, those who
favor the single gunman theory are not correspondingly called “lone gunman
theorists” nor are they (Gerald Posner, for example) ever called “assassination
buffs.” This campaign of denigration has been entirely one-sided and it has
been very powerful—essentially cutting off all intelligent debate. It is rare
in contemporary American society to see an issue so censored—by both the
political right and the political left—that snide remarks are often deemed
acceptable.11 Let us be quite honest about this: because of the
media’s predictable fusillade of tar and feathers, historians are visibly embarrassed
at the mere mention of the JFK assassination. This embarrassment is often
covered up with curious knowing asides, as if only the cognoscenti could
understand what all the smirking was about.

Regarding this fear
of ridicule, Thomas Spencer Jerome has captured the problem exceptionally well:

[The historian] finds
furthermore that there are various sorts of obligations laid upon him to
refrain from truth-telling under diverse penalties. He is a member of a state,
a church, a party, a class, a clique, a family, and in all these relations he
is virtually obliged to see things as they are not, and to speak that which is
false, under penalties varying from execution down to mere inarticulate
unpopularity, most difficult to be borne. (“The Case of the Eyewitnesses,” in
Robin Winks, editor, The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence,
1968, p. 190)12    

Here is the heart of
the matter. It is not that historians (or their de facto stage managers
—in this case, the media) have settled on the lone gunman theory after a
thorough review of the evidence. Merely listening to one of them for several
minutes is often sufficient to reveal his (or her) primitive grasp of the case.
In fact, the real problem lies elsewhere. It is this man’s (or woman’s) fear of
embarrassment before his (or her) peers—the dreaded “inarticulate
unpopularity,” described by Jerome, that has led to the historians’ present
tongue-tied silence. The media have been able to abort nearly any serious
discussion merely by ad hominem attacks, no matter the expertise of the
lone assassin critic in question. They have argued by not arguing. They have
won by not fighting. It would be difficult to find a better illustration of the
dictum, “who controls the present controls the past” (George Orwell,
Nineteen Eighty Four
1949, p. 32).

The Power of the

The power of the
media has served its masters well; with one exception, no well-known historian
has yet publicly entertained an alternate scenario in the JFK assassination.
That exception is Michael R. Beschloss:

Richard Helms found
Lyndon Johnson distracted well into 1964 by his worry that Kennedy had been
assassinated by conspiracy. As Helms recalled, the Agency was “very helpful to
Johnson on this” and met the new President’s request for an independent CIA
study. Motion pictures of the Dallas motorcade and autopsy photographs were
sent over to the Agency. (Beschloss, The Crisis Years: Kennedy and
Khrushchev, 1960-1963
1991, p. 682)

Why the American
public was expected to believe the lone assassin theory of The Warren Report
(September 1964), when LBJ himself did not, has never been explained, nor
have the contents or conclusions of this CIA study ever been released to the
public. Beschloss concludes, “We will probably never know beyond a shadow of a
doubt who caused John Kennedy to be murdered and why” (Beschloss 1991, p. 687).

Dissenting from this
conspiracy view and probably speaking for most historians, Stephen Ambrose13
praised Gerald Posner’s much-ballyhooed book, Case Closed (1991):

Posner has done a
great service, in the process proving that a single researcher, working alone,
is always preferable to a committee. This is a model of historical research. It
should be required reading for anyone reviewing any book on the Kennedy
assassination. Beyond the outstanding job of research, Posner is a dramatic
storyteller. The recreation of Oswald’s, and Jack Ruby’s, personalities is
wonderfully well done. This case has indeed been closed by Mr. Posner’s work.

However, several
sources patently admired by Posner—those whom he actually cites—have not been
kind to Posner, as can be seen from the following three examples:

(1)  Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel for the House
Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), regarding Posner’s Case Closed,
wrote: “Posner often distorts the evidence by selective citation and by
striking omissions. . . he picks and chooses his witnesses on the
basis of their consistency with the thesis he wants to prove.” (“The Mafia and
JFK’s Murder—Thirty years later, the question remains: Did Oswald act alone?” The
Washington Post National Weekly Edition
, 15-21 November 1993, p. 23.)

(2)  Historian David Wrone (of the University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point) stated in a peer reviewed journal: “. . .
his book is so theory driven, so rife with speculation, and so frequently
unable to conform his text with the factual content in his sources that it
stands as one of the stellar instances of irresponsible publishing on this
subject. Massive numbers of factual errors suffuse his book, which make it a
veritable minefield” (Journal of Southern History 61 (February 1995), p.

(3)  Roger McCarthy, President of Failure Analysis
Associates (FaAA), the company that provided the scientific material for the
mock trial of Oswald performed by the American Bar Association in 1992,
executed a sworn affidavit stating that (1) Posner had requested his company’s
prosecution material but not the defense’s material, that (2) Posner failed to
declare in his book that FaAA had also prepared a case for the defense, that
(3) the jury, after hearing both sides, could not reach a verdict, and that (4)
Posner failed to acknowledge the role of the American Bar Association in the
trial. Finally, McCarthy added that during Posner’s early television
interviews, he left the clear impression that the prosecution work in question
had been done at his (Posner’s) specific request and he did not acknowledge the
role of FaAA. (See Addendum 1.)15

Both Ambrose (in
history) and I (in physics) completed our doctoral work at the University of
Wisconsin. We were both born and raised in Wisconsin (see Ambrose, Comrades
1999). I had hoped, partly for these reasons, to be able to open a conversation
with him, but all of my correspondence has been met with silence. In this, he
is probably no different from his colleagues. Jacob Cohen16 has
responded similarly to my attempts to engage him in dialogue. Moreover, when I
submitted a letter to the editor in response to Max Holland, “The Docudrama
That is JFK,” The Nation (7 December 1998), it was ignored. Holland
offered no informal response either, but Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who is often
cited in Holland’s article, after reading my letter, offered his opinion that I
might reasonably have expected at least a personal reply from Holland. (See
Addendum 2.)

But this silence over
Dealey Plaza cannot last forever. Inevitably, this deliberate evasion must
break down; even now, it can be maintained only by ignoring a treasure trove of
new evidence. Some day a (probably young) historian will catch the sunlight
glistening from this newly found repository, will gradually recognize its
worth, and begin to turn it over, piece by piece. After he has done so, the
weight of the evidence will force his colleagues to follow, albeit with some
heavy foot dragging. After the prolonged silence of the historians, this
pioneering historian will recognize the impossible paradoxes and contaminated
evidence in this case, and will thereby forever alter all subsequent
discussion. But so long as historians accept the evidence at face value, our
history books will continue to mislead yet more generations of school children,
as I unfortunately discovered last year in the case of my own daughter, who was
in the fifth grade at the time, where she heard a talk that incriminated Oswald
as the lone gunman.

The Misleading
Medical Evidence17

Powerful evidence now
exists for forgery or, at the very least, a highly deceptive depiction of the
most critical forensic evidence. This includes misleading or seriously altered
autopsy photographs, forged skull X-rays, and the substitution of a different
brain. Compared to this seemingly-radical interpretation, however, all other
explanations pale in explanatory power, so much so that they strain credulity
far more.

The evidence for
forgery within the X-rays is particularly strong. My quantitative measurements
of the skull X-rays at the National Archives (using, for the first time, an
optical densitometer) have been presented in multiple graphs (Assassination
1998, pp. 120–137). By eight distinct and consistent lines of
evidence, these objective and reproducible data led to a clear cut prediction,
namely: that the largest metal-like object (6.5 mm across and nearly round) on
the extant skull X-rays was not present on the original X-rays.
Astonishingly enough, this is entirely consistent with the historical record,
since no one at the autopsy ever reported such an object. (As in the case of
other forged evidence, foul play was suspected early on by Harrison Livingston,
High Treason 1989, p. 81.)

A short time later,
quite independently of my own work, Larry Sturdivan, the ballistics expert for
the HSCA, also concluded—based on his ballistics expertise—that this same
bullet-like image could not possibly represent a real bullet fragment. (He is
quoted in the companion medical essay.) Therefore, two separate lines of
evidence from two quite different disciplines agreed that something was very
wrong with these X-rays. To put this question finally to bed, I asked the ARRB
to interrogate all three pathologists about this most flagrant—and
noteworthy—object on the X-rays. Under oath, not one of the three could
recall seeing this object on the X-rays during the evening of the autopsy,
despite the fact that the primary purpose of the X-rays was to locate and
remove precisely such major pieces of forensic evidence.

Moreover, when I
asked him about this object, John Ebersole, the radiologist, abruptly and
forever terminated our entire conversation. Quite independent of possibly
imperfect human memories, no such object had been removed during the autopsy,
as I could judge for myself at the National Archives. The two fragments removed
during the autopsy are still housed there (CE-843). Neither are remotely like
the 6.5mm object; both are much smaller. Nor can studies performed on them in
the interval explain this enormous discrepancy. The negative responses from the
three pathologists—as well as fragment evidence in the National
Archives—therefore led directly to two major conclusions: (1) my hypothesis
that this 6.5 mm bullet-like object was not visible on the original X-rays was
validated,18 and (2) a critical prop for the HSCA’s high bullet
entry (on the back of the head) was abruptly shattered.19

After all of this,
the only residual evidence for a shot to the top rear of the head was
photographic. At this critical juncture none of the three pathologists could be
called upon to resuscitate the HSCA’s hypothesis of a single successful
assassin. That was because each of them had strongly disagreed with the HSCA’s
proposal of a shot high to the back of the head, as the HSCA itself
embarrassingly understood (and admitted in print) during its own investigation
in 1977-78 (7 HSCA 115). Moreover, the ARRB discovered previously buried
information about the autopsy camera. The HSCA had actually examined the only
camera that could have been used to take the autopsy photographs, and had found
that it did not match the current films in the Archives. The HSCA then buried
its own discovery.

But now the tension
heightened, for these photographs, too, were called into question on yet other
grounds. The ARRB heard from several, independent, new witnesses
who had seen (and handled) actual autopsy photographs that no longer exist.
Other evidence makes it painfully clear that multiple autopsy photographs are
indeed missing, photographs that undeniably conflict with the extant
photographs (of the back of the head) and that also bear directly on the
question of a frontal head shot. As a result, the accuracy (possibly even the
authenticity) of the existing photographs (of the back of the head) has fallen
under the deepest suspicion. Since the now-dubious shot to the (high) back of
the head was the sine qua non for the HSCA’s sole successful gunman
(apart from a second gunman who missed)—and for virtually all subsequent lone
gunman theories—the case for the lone assassin has been severely, if not
irreparably, damaged. [Author’s note: These issues are all discussed in
much greater detail in the companion medical essay, where I introduce further
evidence from the X-rays and even from the pathologists themselves, which
corroborates all of the above statements.]20

The evidence for
substitution of a different brain is also remarkably strong, based on a myriad
of disparate, but consistent, pieces of data compiled by Douglas Horne of the
ARRB (and supported by Jeremy Gunn, the Executive Director). Furthermore, my
direct comparison of the skull X-rays (using quantitative data) to the brain
photographs (work I had actually completed prior to the ARRB), has provided
ideal corroboration for Horne’s proposal of two separate brain examinations of
two different brains on two different dates. [Editor’s note: Horne’s
study and Mantik’s medical essay appear elsewhere in this volume.]

By all that is
reasonable, these new discoveries ought to reverse the judgment of history.
Heretofore, dozens of experts who never saw the body itself, on seeing the
posterior head photographs, have had no choice but to conclude that JFK was
shot in the head from the rear. Virtually all the eyewitnesses, on the other
hand, dispute the photographs of the back of the head. If these images have
been fabricated (or even merely designed to mislead), as now seems indisputable,
then the fundamental question stands open, almost as if the murder had occurred
only yesterday. And the evidence presented in the companion medical
essay—derived from an astonishing variety of sources—makes precisely such a
case for falsification or, at the very least, for intentional obfuscation.
Moreover, if Oswald really did it by himself, as the offical accounts proclaim,
why were such extensive—and dangerous—projects of alteration undertaken at all?
Why would it have been necessary to frame a guilty man?

This essay, based
solely as it is on the medical evidence, can say nothing about whether Oswald
pulled a trigger on that sunny November day. It can, however, conclude that the
photographs of the posterior scalp have been critically manipulated; that the
X-rays of the head have been critically altered; and that the brain was
replaced following its removal from the skull at the original autopsy. The
purpose of all this activity must have been to tie the alleged assassin to a
posterior headshot. After all, the forged 6.5 mm fragment (on the X-ray) had
been placed at the back of the skull to match Oswald’s location—and the
Mannlicher-Carcano does fire 6.5 mm caliber bullets. Moreover, these deceptions
could have had no other objective than to mislead and confuse subsequent
investigations. That information, by itself, goes some way toward deciding just
what Oswald may, or may not, have been doing on that particular Friday in

As Allan Nevins
stated (in the opening quotation), the most vicious forgeries are those
committed in behalf of a cause, specifically those that are intended to bring
about a permanent falsification of history. The forgeries (or, at least, gross
deceptions) in this case clearly fall into the category that Nevins described;
in fact, it is likely that they are the best possible demonstration in history
of what he had in mind. Since the result of the forgeries was to implicate a
single gunman (Oswald) and thereby to exclude all other suspects, they have, in
effect, altered history. If there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, then all
of those involved have been given a pass to freedom, merely by virtue of the
altered medical evidence. And if the conspiracy was a domestic one, especially
if it involved elements of the American government, then surely it ought to be
a matter of interest to American historians.

If the photographs
and X-rays were altered, who did it? And who substituted a different brain for
the real one? Surely not the Mafia, who could not have gained access to such
guarded items. Nor, for similar reasons, could the anti-Castro Cubans, or the Texas
oilmen, or any other non-government group hijack such physical evidence. Only
key individuals of the American government (the Secret Service, in particular)
had access to these critical items. By itself, this conclusion forces us to
take yet another look at the situation. Were key individuals, probably high
level government officials, accessories after the fact? Yet it is inescapable.
No one, save critically placed government officials, could have permitted this
alteration to occur. Indeed, to minimize the risk of subsequent leaks, it is
likely that individuals within the government performed the very deceptions in
question, even though collaboration with individuals outside the government
cannot be excluded, based merely on the present discussion.

John Kaplan (Winks
1968, p. 402) has disparaged the Warren Commission critics (Mark Lane, in
particular) because they attacked the lone gunman theory on one isolated issue
after another, rather than offering a single coherent critical theory. But what
would Kaplan say now? Kaplan’s request, although initially a severe challenge
to the critics, was intrinsically reasonable. Kaplan had concluded: “It has
only rarely been argued that . . . the physical exhibits were
altered” (Winks 1968, p. 373). He would not now be able to make that statement.
In fact, precisely the opposite is true. It is now possible to construct a kind
of unified field theory of the medical evidence in the JFK assassination—the
medical evidence is simply not trustworthy. This is just the kind of
self-consistent counter-case that Kaplan had demanded. If the medical
evidence—the most fundamental evidence in the entire case—has been altered,
then this proposal of highly misleading, or even altered, evidence is exactly
the type of coherent criticism that Kaplan had required—though perhaps not
exactly what he had desired.

The Great Divide

The great divide that
separates the partisans in this case is now complete. Those who accept the
medical evidence at face value stand on one side, while those who hold suspect
most of the medical evidence stand on the opposite side of a yawning chasm.
Kaplan, like most of his contemporaries—whether critics or loyalists—could not
have foreseen this outcome. Too much information still lay hidden at that early
date. By analogy, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (“The Problem of Hope,” reprinted in
Winks 1968, p. 533), has commented on how difficult it would have been in early
1940 for a futurist to forecast the next three American presidents. He would
hardly have named the first of these as an obscure senator from Missouri, who
anticipated an election loss to the Missouri governor in the 1940 Democratic
primaries. Nor would he have considered an unknown lieutenant colonel in the US
Army. Nor, finally, would he ever have considered a young man still at Harvard
as the third.

As historians begin
to review the evidence for a post-assassination cover-up in the medical
evidence—one that can no longer be written off as merely benign—they will face
major obstacles. Much of this evidence, by its very nature, is medical and
scientific and therefore lies outside the customary domain of historians. To
analyze it, they must master some basic concepts in anatomy, ballistics,
forensic science, radiology, and even some basic physics.21 To
ignore these areas will result in their being entirely at the mercy of the
traditional experts, a situation that has already persisted far too long. It is
long past time for these authorities to have the last word; each wave of new
information in this case has successively shown the reigning authorities to be,
not so much wrong, as merely irrelevant.

When close
examination of the primary evidence in a case proves it to have been so
fundamentally flawed, it is unreasonable to expect traditional experts to be of
much value. After all, their life long habit has been to accept these data at
face value and then to use their specialized training to make acceptable
inferences. Forensic pathologists rarely review cases without the body and the
related physical evidence. But that is exactly what happened in the several
official reviews of this case—no body, no brain, or even tissue slides were
available. The evidence for a single posterior headshot rested almost solely on
photographs, and to a lesser extent on X-rays, the same photographs and X-rays
that have now been challenged on nearly every imaginable ground and that have
also raised serious questions (such as the location of the wounds) in the minds
of all three autopsy pathologists.

The Predicament of
the Forensic Experts

During a four-hour
meeting in Monterey, California, on 19 February 2000 (attended by several
independent investigators, including a private detective22), I
obtained responses to several critical questions, specifically and
independently, both from Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., and from Michael M. Baden,
M.D. Both had previously served on the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, which
Baden chaired. Both men are internationally respected in forensic science; many
readers will recall seeing Baden on the stand during the O.J. Simpson trial.23
Their responses are contained in the following statements. To review a case
based solely on photographic and X-ray evidence—without the body or the
brain—as was repeatedly done in this case, is distinctly unusual in forensic
pathology. Furthermore, these experts do not receive special training in the
identification of altered photographs or of altered X-rays, nor are they
typically asked to determine whether a brain is authentic (by DNA analysis, for
example) before deriving conclusions from it.

In any case, for the
subsequent forensic reviews of the JFK evidence, the brain, which is the most
important evidence of all, had been missing since at least October 1966. In
summary, doubts about authenticity are almost inconceivable during the lifetime
of an ordinary forensic specialist. But for the JFK case, these issues of
authenticity are absolutely central. In fact, it is quite probable that there
is no other case as extreme as this in the annals of forensic medicine. A
modern democracy has never had to confront a potentially explosive situation
quite like this before. I have described what havoc a much simpler case of
forged documents played in the national history of France (Addendum 3).

So historians, to
their enormous discomfiture, confront a truly alien situation; they must not
only become familiar with fields quite foreign to their training, but, in order
to recognize forgeries, they must, in a sense, become even more expert than the
experts themselves. It is surely no small surprise that no well-known historian
has stepped forward to volunteer for such a daunting task. Much easier, and
much more common, has been the path of authors such as John Kaplan, Professor
at the Stanford University Law School, who accepted the evidence in this case
at face value (“The Case of the Grassy Knoll: the Romance of Conspiracy,” in
Winks 1968, pp. 371–419). Although Kaplan’s article is inevitably dated
(written years before the HSCA), it is still an instructive example. Out of
curiosity, I carefully combed his essay for items in dispute at present.
Confining myself strictly to the medical and scientific evidence (although many
Oswald evidence items are also in dispute), I counted no fewer than twenty to
thirty medical statements—depending on the selection criteria employed—which
have no credibility today. In view of this, it is scarcely a surprise that
agreement has been impossible to obtain in this case. Kaplan and I would not
even know where to begin a conversation.

Historical Analogies:
Revised Verdicts

History has
generously provided analogous cases in which new evidence has dramatically
reversed the earlier verdict of history. Previous authors24 have
cited the French character assassination of Alfred Dreyfus (between 1894 and
1906) for its similarity to the JFK assassination. Indeed, because of its many
lessons, I have summarized this case in Addendum 3. Based on forged documents,
Dreyfus was convicted of passing French military secrets to the Germans. The
most obvious feature of both controversies was their stubborn unwillingness to
die. Each was a chronic, festering wound in the body politic, though the
Dreyfus affair was settled much more quickly.

The three successive
Dreyfus trials are paralleled by the three American inquiries into Kennedy’s murder:
the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), and
the ARRB.25 In the Dreyfus case there was a proven patsy, while in
the JFK case, Oswald claimed to be a patsy, a claim that is accepted by many
independent investigators today. The silencing of witnesses in the JFK case
(often at perspicuous moments) was paralleled by the silencing of Picquart.
Furthermore, just as Oswald was probably framed26 by (or at the
behest of) government agents, so also government operatives framed Dreyfus.

In both cases, the
resistance of the governments to opening their secret files was exceptional.
This astonishing tenacity—even after 35 years in the JFK matter—persisted
during the ARRB’s attempts to obtain records, first by the CIA and the FBI,27
but later by the US Air Force, the Secret Service, the President’s Foreign
Intelligence Advisory Board, and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).28
[Editor’s note: The Secret Service even destroyed Presidential
protection survey reports after the ARRB requested them; see the Proluge, “Smoking
Gun #14”.] Some investigators believe that Oswald had worked for ONI; that ONI
was extremely interested in Oswald is not in doubt.29 In the French
case, public sentiment against the Jews deflected suspicion from the real
offenders, whereas, in the American case, public fear of communism threw
suspicion upon Oswald. Dreyfus was convicted without due process of law (his
attorney could not see the evidence), whereas Oswald had no effective legal
representation, and was ultimately convicted (after his death) by the Warren
Commission’s prosecutorial brief.

Another such example
is the affair of the destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin (1964),
which led to what was, in effect, an American declaration of war on Vietnam.30
It was only later widely recognized that no shots had been fired at the Maddox,
and that the radar operators had panicked after seeing ghosts on their screens.
Kenneth Davis quotes Stanley Karnow (Vietnam: A History 1983): “Even
Johnson privately expressed doubts only a few days after the second attack
supposedly took place, confiding to an aide, ‘Hell, those dumb stupid sailors
were just shooting at flying fish.’” (Davis, Don’t Know Much About History 1995,
p. 371). It was eventually discovered that the Tonkin Gulf resolution itself
had been prepared two months before the Maddox affair (Davis
1995, p. 371; Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States 1999,
pp. 476–477). As Walt Rostow admitted after the Congressional vote on the
resolution, “We don’t know what happened, but it had the desired result” (Davis
1995, p. 372).

A third example of
the power of new evidence—scientific in this case—is the Sally Hemings affair.
For nearly two centuries, historians flatly denied that Thomas Jefferson could
have engaged in an affair with a slave. Dumas Malone, who spent forty years
writing a multivolume biography, had even denounced this story as “filth” and
“virtually unthinkable in a man of Jefferson’s moral standards” (Malone, Jefferson,
the Virginian
, 1948). But new evidence (“Jefferson fathered slave’s last
child,” Nature 396: 27; 5 November 1998) has led to a dramatically
different view, even by mainstream historians. That this turnabout could occur
after totally opposite statements from the authorities shows once again the
fallibility of historians, or for that matter, any human disagreement in which
the evidence is limited. A

Even physicists have
had to recant some theories of their own in the face of new evidence, while
Stephen Jay Gould regales us with stories of paleontologists who still find
surprises in the fossil record. An example is the recent discovery that bees
appeared at least 100 million years before flowering plants (Dinosaur in a
1995. p. 105). In history, especially, new evidence may emerge at
any time, but particularly so on matters within the memory of those still
living, and such evidence may totally reverse the previous judgments of
history. The limited view of the past still available to us in surviving
documents, recollections, artifacts, and inscriptions has been strongly
emphasized by historians Carl L. Becker (“What is Evidence? The Relativist
View—‘Everyman His Own Historian,’” in Winks 1968, pp. 6-7) and R. G.
Collingwood (“The Pleasures of Doubt: Re-enacting the Crime—‘The Limits of
Historical Knowledge,’” in Winks 1968, pp. 514–517).

A fourth example—one
that again demonstrates the power of collective human memory (analogous to
Thomas Jefferson’s black descendants)—was presented on public television by Nova
(WGBN of Boston) on 23 February 2000: “Are the Lembas of southern Africa one of
the ‘The Lost Tribes of Israel’?” New DNA analysis has demonstrated that males
from Jewish families named Cohen (or Cohane), by Jewish tradition descended
from the priestly line of Aaron (the brother of Moses), have a greater than 50%
incidence of a particular Y-chromosome marker (the Cohen modal haplotype) that
only 10% of the general Jewish male population possesses. The black Lemba tribe
of Zimbabwe, a tribe with long traditions as Jews (proscription of pork,
circumcision, yarmulkes, prayer shawls, Semitic names, and ritual slaughter
with knives that boys keep for life-long use) also demonstrate about the same
10% incidence of these same Y-chromosome markers as layman (non-Cohen) Jews, a
figure that is much higher than for non-Jewish groups. Particularly striking,
though, was the unusually high (nearly 50%) incidence of the Cohen model
haplotype in an elite subclan of the Lemba, known as the Buba. This new
scientific evidence requires a reassessment of these traditional—and initially
incredible—claims of the Lemba as descendents of the lost tribes. (Lemba
traditions also recall that their ancestors founded the “Great Zimbabwe,” built
between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries A.D.) These new scientific data
provide more support for the validity of collective human memory and also
furnish additional support for the reliability of eyewitnesses’ recall of
specific kinds of events. In a more general sense, though, this episode raises
questions about the possible historical roots of other so-called myths. Other
examples of myths turning into reality include the work of Heinrich Schliemann
(Troy), Sir Leonard Wooley (Ur), and Sir Arthur Evans (Minos).

New evidence from
World War II, for example, includes the probable murder of Hitler by his own
staff (Hugh Thomas,31 The Murder of Adolph Hitler: the Truth
about the Bodies in the Bunker
1995) and FDR’s foreknowledge (and perhaps
even deliberate provocation) of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Robert
Stinnett, Day of Deceit 2000).32 The latter is based on
numerous, recently released documents under the Freedom of Information Act that
Stinnett dug out, and also by new interviews that he conducted with
still-living protagonists in this matter. If the JFK controversy is considered
to be long-lived, though, then it might usefully be compared to the Pearl
Harbor controversy, which has already occasioned nine official investigations.
Although the final judgment of history is still open on these issues from World
War II, this new information will require further serious debate and has the
potential again to alter our view of history. B

In the realm of
literature, Richard Altick (“The Scholar Adventurers,” 1950, reprinted in Winks
1968, pp. 108-126) has reminded us of how much new material has emerged in the
history of English literature and in the biographies of many of its principals,
even in the recent past. In this sense, the past, at least as we view it from
the present, is not fixed but rather is ever changing. In fact, the closer to
the present an event lies, the more likely it is to change (in interpretation,
and even in its basic facts) at some future date. Furthermore, the full
implications of a given event may take years, decades, or even longer, to be
fully evident. The American Declaration of Independence (whose writing
Jefferson deemed less important at the time than his work on the Virginia
constitution) is surely a good example of this, its full implications becoming
clear only as the decades passed. Consider, for example, the Confederacy’s view
of this document during the Civil War. These may well be reasons why standard
textbooks ignore so much recent American history, an issue that is discussed
immediately below.

My former field of
physics is crammed with similar examples of new evidence that overturned old
theories. For example, classical physics had predicted that the electromagnetic
radiation emitted by a black body (an object that absorbs all of the radiation
that strikes it) would be infinite at higher frequencies, an absurd result that
was appropriately dubbed the “ultraviolet catastrophe.” This seemingly simple
phenomenon could not be explained by classical physics. A thoroughly radical
revolution, quantum physics, was initiated in October 1900 by Max Planck when
he derived the correct formula for this effect. It still remains curious that
such a seemingly simple effect was the catalyst for twentieth century physics.

A Black Hole in
Twentieth Century History

Any future historian
who risks discussing the assassination, or any of the issues that surround it,
without mastering the core evidence of the assassination—including these issues
of authenticity—will hazard gross error and distortion. Yet these events are
essential to our understanding of 20th Century; lists of the century’s major
events typically include the JFK assassination. If this is indeed a major
event, but our history textbooks will not offer even a reasoned hypothesis on
who killed an American President, then what purpose do they serve? And if
assassination related issues are simply avoided, even including those related
to the proximate causes of the war in Vietnam, then a black hole has invaded
our own history.

For example, both
John M. Newman (Newman, JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the
Struggle for Power
1992) and Robert McNamara (McNamara, In Retrospect:
The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam
1995, pp. 95–96) argue strongly that JFK
would not have involved the US in such a war. Even John Connally, one of LBJ’s
oldest and closest friends, supports this interpretation (Connally, In
History’s Shadow: An American Odyssey
1993 p. 358). Comments by Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr. (in Robert Brent Toplin, ed., “Nixon,” Oliver Stones’ USA:
Film, History, and Controversy)
and documents released by the ARRB also
support this conclusion (Probe, March/April 1998).33 Finally,
a new book by David Kaiser (American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the
Origins of the Vietnam War
, 2000) describes the war as a pivotal event in
American history and as the greatest policy miscalculation in the history of
American foreign relations. Kaiser also emphasizes that JFK, often alone,
resisted the policies he had inherited from Eisenhower and that he especially
resisted involvement in Southeast Asia. This evasion of the JFK assassination,
and its aftermath, by historians cannot last forever. Like the physical
universe, history also abhors a vacuum.

James Loewen (Lies
My Teacher Told Me
1995, pp. 233–247) has pointed out the distinction made
by many African societies between the remote past (the zamani) and the recent
past (the sasha). The former lies beyond the memory of anyone still alive,
whereas the latter lies within the memory of the living. One of Loewen’s
charges is that history textbooks, in general, leave a huge gap in the recent
past. Loewen suggests that the authors simply lack the courage to discuss
controversial subjects—subjects on which their adult readers, who lived through
the events, might well have strong views of their own. For the JFK assassination,
this concern is more powerful than for any other subject; in fact, not even
Loewen discusses it! In another history book that is somewhat outside the
mainstream (Davis 1995, pp. 364–367), supporters of the lone gunman theory are
given serious credibility, while critics are given, at most, a demeaning pat on
the rear. Yet another history tome that is somewhat off the beaten path (Howard
Zinn, A People’s History of the United States 1999) solves this entire
problem with ease. Although Zinn34 provides a refreshing review of
too often neglected, albeit important, events in American history, when it
comes to the JFK assassination—one of the twentieth century’s major events and
one of history’s greatest mysteries—the admirable Zinn opts for total silence.

The Law of Facts and

C. S. Lewis35
relates the tale of the woman who saw a ghost but who still refused to believe
in the immortal soul (Miracles: A Preliminary Study 1947, p. 7). Arnold
Toynbee (A Study of History 1973,  p. 486) has articulated a
similar concept: “Facts, then, cannot come into existence without the good
offices of an hypothesis.” These two British authors have proposed the same
idea: if one’s worldview does not have room for a specific concept then the
evidence for that concept remains invisible. This same theme runs through
several works in historiography such as those by Barbara Tuchman (Practicing
History: Selected Essays
1982, pp. 13–32), Ernst Breisart (Historiography:
Ancient, Medieval and Modern,
1983 pp. 326–336), and David Hackett Fischer
(Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought 1970, p.

Fischer describes
this issue as the Baconian fallacy, to wit, the idea that an historian can work
without preconceived hypotheses: “He is supposed to go a-wandering in the dark
forest of the past, gathering facts like nuts and berries, until he has enough
to make a general truth.”36 For the most definitive statement of
this principle, however, I can do no better than to quote Carl Becker:

Left to themselves,
the facts do not speak; left to themselves they do not exist, not really, since
for all practical purposes there is no fact until someone affirms it. The least
the historian can do with any historical fact is to select and affirm it. To
select and affirm even the simplest complex of facts is to give them a certain
place in a certain pattern of ideas, and this alone is sufficient to give them
a special meaning. . . . It is thus not the undiscriminated fact, but
the perceiving mind of the historian that speaks (“What is Evidence?” in Winks
1968, pp. 18–19).

Preceding Lewis,
Toynbee, Fischer, and Becker in identifying this logical concept, though, were
two other giants of intellectual history, Charles Darwin and Immanuel Kant.
Stephen Jay Gould quotes Darwin as follows:

About thirty years
ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorize;
I well remember someone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a
gravel pit and count the pebbles and describe the colors. How odd it is that
anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if
it is to be of any service! (Gould 1995, p. 148)

Even before Darwin’s
quotation, Kant, in a famous quip cited by Gould (p. 148), noted that concepts
without percepts are empty, whereas percepts without concepts are blind. I have
therefore re-labeled this fundamental insight as “The Law of Facts and
Frameworks.” All of these writers have recognized the same idea, namely: that
information cannot function as evidence when it lies beyond a conceptual

If data speak most
clearly when they lie within a specific framework (and are correspondingly
silent when they do not), then the example par excellence—of how to employ
highly selected data and simultaneously to disregard all discordant data—must
be The Warren Report. As a corollary, data that did not lie within the
framework of the Commission’s preordained conclusions were buried. Such data
must now, almost literally, be dug up from the ground to see the light of day.
My companion medical essay provides an alternative model, one that encompasses
a much greater range of evidence in this case. Long silent data ignored by the
Commission (often without explanation) begin, at last, to find their voices.

The Death Throes of The
Warren Report

Regarding the death
throes of old theories, such as (in my view) The Warren Report, Gould
has offered a deep insight:

We say, in our
mythology, that old theories die when new observations derail them. But too
often—I would say usually—theories act as straitjackets to channel observations
toward their support and to forestall potentially refuting data. Such theories
cannot be rejected from within,37 for we will not conceptualize the
disproving observations. . . . We escape by importing a new theory and by
making the different kinds of observations that any novel outlook must suggest.
(Gould 1995, p. 151)

Gould then
illustrates his insight with Luis and Walter Alvarez’s38 proposal
(1979) that an asteroid or comet caused the mass extinction that killed the
dinosaurs. As Gould notes, this proposal has won increasing support in the
intervening two decades.

Warren Commission
supporters have generously illustrated Gould’s concept of a theory in
decline—these devotees have been remarkably creative at bending any
disagreeable fact to fit the framework of The Warren Report. Blakey and
Wrone (cited above) have caustically assented to this conclusion, viewing these
writers as tied up in straitjackets. The critiques by Weisberg and Scott (also
cited below)—and of other authors not cited here—illustrate many more examples
of such Procrustean fact-bending. Even worse, though, sometimes these disciples
are so committed to their hypothesis that evidence that grossly violates their
worldview cannot even be seen, such as when Posner describes the limousine
stop, a conclusion that would immediately prove alteration of the Zapruder film
(Posner 1993, p. 234).39 Most assuredly, this conclusion would be
quickly denied—with revulsion—by Posner himself, were it brought to his

The JFK assassination
may also be the best historical example of disparate facts that make no sense
at all within a particular logical structure (the one erected by the Warren
Commission), but which suddenly become luminous when seen through the lens of
an alternate hypothesis. Examples are the bullets that several witnesses either
saw or heard strike Elm Street. Their reports are included in the Warren
Commission’s 26 volumes of supporting evidence, but are totally ignored and
never explained in the 888-page report itself. Other examples are the 6.5 mm
“bullet” cross section at the back of the head on the JFK skull X-rays, an
object that no one reported until 1968, or the very long list of apparently
disparate facts that suddenly fell into place when Douglas P. Horne proposed
two separate examinations of two different brains on two different dates.40
The explanatory power of the new paradigm is striking, embarrassingly so when
compared to the old one (The Warren Report). The number of old,
previously ignored, facts that suddenly come alive, like Pinocchio, is
astonishing. The examples cited in this paragraph are merely a small cross
section of the entire case.

The reverse
situation—that of a previously missing concept (and the supporting facts that
were overlooked)—is Jared Diamond’s recent Pulitzer Prize winning opus, Guns,
Germs, and Steel
(1997) in which he brilliantly proposes a general theory,
based largely on evolutionary biology, of the rise and fall of human societies.
The facts that support his proposal have been known for some time, but the
disparate nature of the evidence—much of it lying outside of the traditional
boundaries of historical research—meant that these facts were invisible until
the proper hypothesis was advanced.

Detective fiction
provides many similar illustrations: the critical forensic facts cannot be
recognized until the correct hypothesis is advanced (R. G. Collingwood, “Who
Killed John Doe? The Problem of Testimony—from The Idea of History,” in
Winks 1968, pp. 39–60). In a very real sense, Toynbee is correct: if facts have
no meaning within a larger context, there is a sense in which these facts do
not exist at all. Until they fall into place within a logical structure (a
theory or hypothesis) they have no life of their own and eventually they may
disappear completely.

Historians will have
trouble with this case for the above reasons as well—there is simply no
historical precedent of this magnitude, i.e., a case in which so much of the
physical evidence has either been altered or deliberately made deceptive.
Although cases of forged documents, occasionally of forged physical evidence,
or even of photographs,41 can be cited, there is no comparable case
in which such extensive suspicion is warranted, let alone proved. In this
sense, too, historians will be entering strange waters. They will find
themselves almost rudderless. If this were some obscure area of history it
would be one matter, but this is different; like downtown Manhattan, the entire
area has already been thoroughly explored—and staked out. Historians are much
more accustomed to entering a virgin terra incognito where their footsteps are
the only fresh ones (or nearly the only fresh ones). How different this will be
for them; it is likely that this thought, too, has frightened them from
entering the fray. Scores of self-designated experts lurk behind the nearest
shrubs with glee, eagerly hoping to throw daggers into the backs of these newly
arriving historians or to catch them in some unsuspecting trap. Such a
stimulating setting will seem like an extraterrestrial encounter to the
historian, who is, more often than not, a civilized explorer, not an adventurer
into well traveled territories that contain heavily armed and warring factions.

The End of Silence?

Perhaps, though, this
ancient glacier of silence (about the post-assassination cover-up) is beginning
to melt a bit. For his recent book, Michael Parenti (History as
2000), drawing extensively from the synthesis of Gary L. Aguilar,
M.D., has described the misrepresentations of Gerald Posner. (See also Harrison
Livingston, Killing Kennedy 1995, Chapter 7.) That this discussion
occurs in a book that is not solely devoted to the JFK assassination is also a
good sign. Heretofore, virtually all discussions of the JFK murder have
occurred in a kind of vacuum, almost as if the events had transpired on Mars.
But the more the assassination and the attendant cover-up are seen as merely another
chapter in American history, the better we shall all understand it, not to
mention related historical events, and the more likely it is to appear in
standard history textbooks. By writing about it in this fashion, Parenti has
done us a great service.

Historian David Wrone
has also entered the arena. He has written about the Zapruder film (“The
Zapruder Film. A Brief History with Comments,” 1997) and co-authored The
Assassination of JFK: Comprehensive Historical and Legal Bibliography

(1980). He has also described the waywardness of Gerald Posner.
Regarding Posner’s misdeeds, in particular, the media have been astonishingly
silent. But this is not hard to understand. Since the death of David Belin, a
fervent believer in the lone gunman theory, the media, like the ancient
Philistines, have had no comparable champion to match up against the Davids
(there are literally many) on the other side in this case.

Michael L. Kurtz, a
professor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University, has taught a course
on the assassination for several decades, and has published peer-reviewd
articles, such as “The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: A Historical
Perspective,” The Historian  45 (1992), pp. 1–19, as well as a
thoughtful and detailed book in several editions (Crime of the Century: the
Kennedy Assassination from a Historian’s Perspective
1993). Kurtz himself
is also proof that the medical and scientific evidence is well within the grasp
of the historian who makes a serious effort to master it. His book also provides
a great deal of historical background for the probable forces at work in the
assassination. His book deserves to be widely read by historians.

Three more books
should be added to this short list: (1) Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt: An
Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy
(1985); (2) John
Newman, Oswald and the CIA (1995); and (3) Peter Dale Scott, Deep
Politics and the Death of JFK
(1993).42 Although Hurt initially
expected to find convincing evidence that Oswald had acted alone, his research
forced him to conclude that the evidence actually pointed away from Oswald. He
now believes that the assassination led to a pervasive transfer of power and
brought about profound changes in America.

Newman is both an
historian43 and a twenty-year former military intelligence officer
with the National Security Agency. He employs new interviews with highly placed
officials and newly released documents to show Oswald through the eyes of the
intelligence community. The Oswald connection takes Newman into the agency’s
most secret elements, including the Soviet Russia Division, Angleton’s
ultra-secret Counterintelligence Special Investigation Group, and the Special
Affairs Staff’s anti-Cuban operations.

Scott, a former
Canadian diplomat and current professor of English at UC Berkeley, believes
that JFK’s death was not just an isolated case, but was rather a symptom of
hidden and deeper processes in domestic and international policies. He goes on
to identify the “structural defects” within the US government that first
permitted the crime to occur and then to go unpunished. He argues that the JFK
assassination has enduring relevance even today because these deep structural
defects have still not been corrected. Mainstream historians never cite any of
these books, if they have even read them.

On the Predictability
of History

A traditional view
has it that history cannot be predicted (Barbara Tuchman, Practicing
History: Selected Essays
1981, p. 249), that historians find it difficult
enough to explain events after the fact, let alone before it. Jared Diamond,
however, has challenged that view, at least for certain situations. He has
amassed an amazing quantity and variety of evidence, largely from evolutionary
biology, to explain the fates of human societies, beginning with the rise of
agriculture in the Fertile Crescent. He has furthermore challenged historians
to “. . . develop human history as a science, on a par with the
acknowledged historical sciences such as astronomy, geology, and evolutionary
biology.” (Guns, Germs, and Steel 1997, p. 408). At the same time,
however, Diamond acknowledges that individual events—and their subsequent
impact on history—cannot be predicted.

For example, if
Churchill had been killed as a pedestrian in 1931 by a New York taxi driver
(Robert Cowley, Editor, What If: the World’s Foremost Military Historians
Imagine What Might Have Been
1999, pp. 306–307) or if Hitler had been
killed during a 1930 traffic accident (Diamond 1997, pp. 419–420), history
would have followed a different path. Similarly, if the peace loving Kaiser
Frederick III of Prussia had not smoked cigars44 (Alfred Jay Bollet,
“Smoking and Cancer in the 19th Century,” Resident and Staff Physician,
August 1997, pp. 45–47) he might have ruled longer than 99 days in 1888, thus
preventing his arrogant and militaristic son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, from
aggravating tensions before World War I. Curiously, Wilhelm II had his own
encounter with a cigar in 1889 (the year of Hitler’s birth), when Annie Oakley
came to Berlin. Annie was stunned when the Kaiser publicly volunteered to puff
on a cigar while she shot it with her Colt. Not daring to risk a major loss of
face, and wishing that she had had less alcohol the night before, she took aim
and blew his ashes away (Cowley 1999, pp. 290-291). After World War I began,
Annie began to realize that she had made a mistake; after the war was over she
wrote to the Kaiser, asking for a second shot, but he never replied!

My own analogy is
that evolutionary biology, which Diamond used to make his astonishing
predictions, is like statistical mechanics. Based on physical interactions
among large numbers of submicroscopic particles, powerful predictions can be
made, but about a unique atom or an individual molecule—like a single human
being—nothing useful can be predicted. Likewise, if Diamond is correct,
successful predictions are sometimes possible for selected human societies,
just as they are for large collections of particles.

For the prediction of
post-assassination cover-ups, however, by analogy to individual atoms and
molecules, the historian is quite helpless, unless he just happens to interview
one of the perpetrators at the right moment and this individual is willing to
talk! For the JFK assassination, no one (possibly excepting the initial
perpetrators) could have predicted the turns and twists through which this case
would pass before finally reaching its present denouement. It is only within
the past several years, and especially since the new releases by the ARRB, that
the contours of this unique case have arisen, like the Sphinx, from the sands
of history.

It may be, however,
that Diamond would wish to suggest more work for the historians—for example,
that certain historical milieus predict for certain outcomes. At the time of
the JFK assassination, for example, the climate in America was one of fear of
international communism; in retrospect, the moral environment within the
government condoned the overthrow of foreign leaders, or even their
assassination; and the intelligence establishment was becoming autonomous.
Regarding this last point, Arthur Krock,45 the Washington
correspondent for The New York Times, had written:

The CIA’s growth was
“likened to a malignancy” which even the “very high official was not sure even
the White House could control. . . any longer. . .. If the United States ever
experiences [an attempt at a coup to overthrow the Government] (sic) it will
come from the CIA and not the Pentagon.” The agency “represents a tremendous
power and total unaccountability to anyone.” (“In the Nation: The
Intra-Administration War in Viet Nam,” 3 October 1963, p. 34.)

Does a constellation
of symptoms such as this, perhaps with several others added to the mix, predict
that a nation is ripe for either an assassination or some other major violation
of its traditional ethical norms? Not being a historian, it is not my place to
make this argument, but perhaps historians should examine such issues .46

The Fallacy of Moral

The French have long
been famous for their Gallic sense of superiority, which they so disastrously
demonstrated during the Franco-Prussian war—by wearing their traditional pantaloons
(for the last time). Fischer (1970, p. 6) reviews the work of the
distinguished French historian, Fustel de Coulanges (1830-1889), whose students
applauded him after a lecture, to which he responded with the famous line: “Do
not applaud me. It is not I who speaks to you, but history which speaks through
my mouth.” According to Fischer, Fustel was convinced that he had diminished
the national French bias that had so marred the writing of his chauvinistic
colleagues—but (according to Fischer) he had merely disguised it. In his major
work, written immediately after the Franco-Prussian war, his (Fustel’s) main
point was to minimize the Teutonic influence that other scholars had discovered
in the development of French and English institutions.

But just as Fischer
named a historical disease (Carr’s disease) after an English scholar, so also
Germany does not escape his sarcasm. He censures German historicism (Fischer
1970, p. 156), especially the “nasty idea that whatever was becoming, is
right.” Given this view, he notes that Germany’s downward descent into Nazism
was a natural evolution. But Fischer does not stop there—he aims a barb at the
more modern notion of “Top Nations,” of whom the US is now foremost:

Something of the
fallacy of ethical historicism appears in the absurd and dangerous idea that
America’s rise to power and prosperity is a measure of its moral
excellence—that the history of the Republic can be seen, in short, as a system
of morality. How many of us have not, at some time, silently slipped into this

Indeed, the
adjective, “glorious,” in the title of Graff’s history text—America: The
Glorious Republic
—is an illustration of this error. A prior expression of
this superior American attitude was manifest destiny (Norman Graebner, editor, Manifest
1968), an attitude usually attributed to the 1840s, but which was
presaged by the European-American treatment of its native peoples almost as
soon as Columbus met the Arawaks, carried on at Acoma, New Mexico (1599),
continued by slave trading Pilgrims of New England, maintained during the
Pequot War of 1636-37, and particularly polished during the subjugation of the
civilized Cherokees by Andrew Jackson and Chief Justice John Marshall (Loewen
1995, pp. 91–129). C

The 1840s saw the
annexation of California and the western territories after the Mexican-American
War, a war opposed by Abraham Lincoln (then in Congress) and by Henry David
Thoreau. This expansionist attitude culminated with American tacit assent to
the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii in 1893 (followed by American
annexation), and the (still controversial) sinking of the Maine in
Havana harbor (February 1898), which ignited the Spanish-American War.48
This latter led directly to the Philippine incursion, including massive
American strikes against civilians, while Filipinos fought back against
America’s unwanted hegemony, in the process killing 5000 Americans, an episode
all but forgotten by Americans today. All of these episodes personify the
American arrogance of power—an arrogance that derived at least in part from
America’s fundamental presumption of moral superiority. More recent American
excursions, partly based on this same historical tradition, include Vietnam,
Guatemala, Costa Rica, Iraq, Grenada, Africa, Cuba, the Balkans, and others all
too familiar.

The JFK assassination
is yet one more example of America’s sense of moral superiority. In Europe,
especially, this tragedy was immediately recognized as a probable conspiracy; indeed,
a domestic conspiracy was quickly suspected. Two of the most outspoken of these
foreign observers were Hugh Trevor-Roper and Bertrand Russell, certainly no dim
intellectual lights. [Editors’s note: Russell’s essay on this subject
appears elsewhere in this volume.] Meanwhile in France, Leo Sauvage, a reporter
for Le Figaro, published The Oswald Affair in March 1965, only
six months after The Warren Report. (In fact, Sauvage had completed his
book a year earlier, but his New York publisher reneged on its signed contract
after The Warren Report was published.) Europeans have a much longer
sense of history, having seen all too many powerful leaders toppled in one
country after another, often by conspiracy.49

If the American media
are to be believed, only in America do such things not happen. In fact,
this attitude toward the JFK assassination is one of the best examples of
America’s sense of moral superiority,50 an attitude held primarily
now by the ruling elite, and often seen at both the left and right ends of the
political spectrum. Thomas Sowell has captured the sense of moral superiority
felt by the left:

What a vision may
offer, and what the prevailing vision of our time emphatically does offer,
is a special state of grace for those who believe in it. Those who accept this
vision are deemed to be not merely factually correct but morally on a higher
plane. Put differently, those who disagree with the prevailing vision are seen
as being not merely in error, but in sin. (The Vision of the Anointed
1995, pp. 1–6)

Joseph Epstein 
adds: “Disagree with someone on the left and he is more likely to think you
selfish, a sell-out, insensitive, possibly evil” (“True Virtue,” New York
Times Magazine
, 24 November 1985, p. 95). On the other hand, the
deep-rooted moral superiority felt by the right against the left scarcely needs
to be noted. Gary North summarizes this position:

They [the
conspirators of the left] “breathe together” against God and God’s law, and
also against all those who are faithful to God. . . . Thus, the
conspirators are at war against Western Civilization. It outrages them. (Larry
Abraham, Call It Conspiracy 1985, p. xi)

The plebeians are
expected to accept the pronouncements of the anointed—namely that America has
been granted a special exemption from the devious misdeeds of other
nations—such that the conspiracies of other countries cannot possibly infect
America. A short list of such foreign examples (in modern times) includes the unsuccessful
attempts on Hitler and DeGaulle, and the successful assassinations of Rajiv
Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, Luis Colosio,51 and Salvadore Allende. The plot
against FDR52 and the assassination attempt on Truman53
are, of course, never mentioned. Ironically, this iconoclastic attitude
persists despite the fact that America is one of the easiest places in the
world to be murdered. Moreover, this fallacy of American moral superiority is
ridiculed by the rest of the world.

The notion that
America is stamped from a special mold—one that imparts a nearly indestructible
guarantee against political assassinations on its own turf—is perceived as
preposterous elsewhere. This parochial attitude among Americans has recently
leaped to the fore again—in archeology of all places. As the JFK assassination
did for its warring factions, so also the question of the earliest known New
World sites of humans has recently raised the emotions of archeologists around
the world (to a fever pitch in some places) and has deeply divided them.
Americans insist that their sites in North America (usually with Clovis, New
Mexico, brands of stone tools) are the oldest, while specialists in Europe tend
to side with South American researchers who claim distinctly older sites on
their own continent.

The Responsibility of

Becker suggested
(Winks 1968, p. 7): “History is the memory of things said and done,” while Carr
stated: “History is the record of what happened.” If these are reasonable
definitions, then history cannot be the story of what did not occur.
Such accounts do not belong in the nonfiction section of our libraries, but
should be consigned to the fiction section, as some wags have proposed for The
Warren Report
. Winks has also noted: “There have always been many
historians who were more concerned that truth should be on their side than that
they should be on the side of truth”—a dictum that might reasonably have been
applied to Gerald Ford at the moment that he elevated JFK’s back wound into the
neck (in order to resuscitate the single bullet theory)—without any supporting
medical data and without prior consent from the pathologists.

Fischer (1970, p.
315) affirms that a primary purpose of historical scholarship is to help a
people (or a nation) achieve self-knowledge, in the way that a psychoanalyst
seeks to help a patient. Surely part of that goal is the stripping away of
unrealistic illusions. But what shall we say about those historians, such as
those whom Winks cites above, who do not try to strip away our national illusions?
If these illusions persist, how then shall we address the pervasive and deeply
structural problems of America—for example, illusions about the morality of our
involvement in certain foreign wars and in many foreign interventions,
illusions about our treatment of native Americans and of our black citizens,
illusions about our treatment of our underclass in general, illusions about the
myth of upward mobility, and illusions about the pervasive nature of bribery
and corruption at most levels of American society?

If historians will
not address the JFK assassination, not only do they abort the
self-understanding that Fischer had wanted for them, but something even more
significant follows. According to Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt (1985), a
pervasive transfer of power occurred after the assassination, while Peter Dale
Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993), advises us that these
deep “structural defects” still persist within the American government. John
Newman, JFK and Vietnam (1992), makes a powerful case that the US could
have escaped the war in Vietnam had JFK not been killed. All of these are
deeply serious charges—charges that historians have largely ignored. By
preserving their silence, historians risk becoming culpable in these charges.
Such culpability, if granted, would go well beyond a mere evasion of

If key individuals in
the US government, including some in very high positions, participated in the
subsequent cover-up (in altering the medical evidence, for example)—then these
silent historians have, in effect, functioned as accessories after the fact.
This is a very serious charge, but the historians’ abandonment of this matter
can hardly lead to any other conclusion. A defense for their past behavior,
however, may reasonably be offered, one to which I am not unsympathetic.
Previously, the available information for conspiracy, though strong, was still
growing and the pronouncements of the media made it difficult for historians to
part company from The Warren Report. But that era is long gone. It is
now time for historians to distance themselves from the journalists, and from
the remainder of the media, as well.

The journalists—in
fact, the entire media—must relinquish their stranglehold on this case.
Regarding these primary guardians of the lone gunman theory, Barbie Zelizer54
has indicted them:

. . .
journalism has not required the trappings of professionalism: many journalists
do not readily read journalism textbooks, attend journalism schools, or enroll
in training programs (J. Johnstone, E. Slawski, and W. Bowman, The News
1976). Codes of journalistic behavior are not written down, codes of
ethics remain largely nonexistent, and most journalists reject licensing
procedures (Clement Jones, Mass Media Codes of Ethics and Councils 1980;
Robert Schmuhl, The Responsibilities of Journalism 1984). Journalists
are also indifferent to professional associations, and the largest professional
association—the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Chi—claims as members
only 17% of American journalists. Journalists act as members of a professional
association in only a limited sense. (Covering the Body: The Kennedy
Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory
1992, p. 6)

Ronald F. White55,
who holds a Ph.D. in history, concurs with this narrow view of journalism as a

. . . by
Kuhnian standards, journalism does not necessarily possess the institutional
foundations necessary for the cultivation of expertise. . . . Even more serious
is the fact that journalism lacks a subject matter upon which expertise can be
attributed. (Assassination Science 1998, p. 403)

The role of the media
in contemporary American society has been well summarized by Paul Weaver:

The media are less a
window on reality than a stage on which officials and journalists perform
self-scripted, self-serving fictions. (“Selling the Story,” The York Times,
29 July 1994, p. A13)

Two other authors on
my bookshelves who are extremely critical of the role of the media in
contemporary American society are (1) Pulitzer Prize winning author, Ben H.
Bagdikian (The Media Monopoly 1992) and (2) Noam Chomsky (Necessary
Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
1989). Bagdikian has
warned about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising,
while Chomsky argues that the press no longer serve as advocates of free speech
and democracy but rather are the servants of the moneyed corporations. Most
importantly, for our understanding of media coverage of the JFK assassination (in
my view), Chomsky claims that journalists entering the system cannot make their
way unless they conform to these ideological pressures. [Editor’s note:
Yet Chomsky persists in regarding conspiracy theories as romantic illusions in
the case of JFK, which allows him as well to disregard the serious obligations
that an understanding of this event poses.]

The judgments of the
media about the JFK case—almost the sole opinions currently accepted on the
American scene—implicitly include conclusions on highly technical and
professional subjects, including anatomy, medicine, radiology, ballistics,
forensic science, trajectories, neutron activation analysis and more. When have
journalists mastered all of this expertise? Furthermore, what knowledge do
journalists have of altered or misleading photographs, forged X-rays, and
substituted brains? Have any of them read any of the thousands of pages of new
releases from the ARRB, or even The Warren Report itself, let alone the
twelve HSCA volumes? These critical questions cannot simply be left to one of
the most amateur of professions in America56—but for nearly forty
years that is precisely what has happened. On the contrary, historians, who
belong to a long-standing profession with an authentic knowledge base, must now
begin their own research. They can no longer rely on amateurs. Amateur hour is

After all, on what
other historical matter would historians offer obeisance to the media? For
example, would Stephen Ambrose have permitted Dan Rather (a frequent commentator
on the JFK assassination) to set the agenda for his compelling account of D-Day
or for his engaging chronicle of Lewis and Clark? Or would David Herbert Donald
have allowed even Walter Cronkite (a pundit on Oswald’s supposedly miraculous
hit) to outline his insightful biography of Lincoln? These are transparently
absurd notions, even for historians, yet this is exactly what has happened in
the JFK assassination. These remarkable new ARRB revelations—particularly in
the medical evidence, but also those that pertain to Oswald—now leave
historians with no legitimate excuses. These matters lie beyond the capability
of anchormen on the evening news, to say nothing of the common journalist. It
is time for the JFK assassination to be taken seriously by historians. One of
the greatest events of the 20th century deserves more than snide remarks and
sly snickers, or the culpable acquiescence of portentous silence. Historians
have some serious work to do.

Detectives or Pedagogues?

After I had written
the above passage, I began to browse through my personal collection of history
books looking for further historical insights into this case. Within a few
seconds, to my complete amazement, my eyes alighted upon several paragraphs by
Herbert Butterfield in a paperback that I had purchased before the
assassination. I was astonished by how perfectly Butterfield had captured the
essence of the historians’ present plight. It was as though he had seen into
the future and had written these words explicitly for the present essay—and
especially to describe the workings of the Warren Commission. The words are
timeless, though they were first delivered at the request of the Divinity
Faculty at the University of Cambridge in Michaelmas term 1948, as follows:

The only appropriate
analogy to the authentic work of historical reconstruction is the case of the
detective working out the solution of a crime problem in a conventional work of
fiction. At the first stage you have the stupid inspector from Scotland Yard
who sees all the obvious clues, falls into all the traps, makes all the common
sense inferences, and lo! the criminal is self-evident. The whole story of the
crime in fact is immediately made clear to us; there is a plausible role in
that story for each of the characters concerned; the solution satisfies the
mind, or at any rate the mind at a given level; and indeed for this poor
Scotland Yard inspector one would say that the study of history ought to be the
easiest occupation in the world. Detective stories may not in other ways be
true, but it is the case in human affairs that the same set of clues, envisaged
at a higher level of thought, with or without additional evidence—the same set
of clues reshaped into a new synthesis by a Sherlock Holmes57—may
produce a new map of the whole affair, an utterly unexpected story to narrate,58
and possibly even a criminal where in the first place we had never thought to
look for one. And the same thing is liable to happen when an historical episode
is reconsidered and reconstructed after, say, a century of learned controversy.

In other words, the
development of the scientific method in nineteenth century historiography did
not merely mean that this or that fact could be corrected, or the story told in
greater detail, or the narrative amended at marginal points. It meant that
total reconstructions proved to be necessary, as in the detective stories,
where a single new fact might turn out to be a pivotal one; and what had been
thought to be an accident might transform itself into an entirely different
story of murder.59 In these circumstances, evidence, which had
seemed to mean one thing, might prove to be capable of an entirely different
construction.60 (Herbert Butterfield, Christianity and History
1960, pp. 25–27)

Besides the almost
frightening prescience and pertinence of these insights for this case, there
was another striking feature of these words for me. Butterfield had captured
the essence of my own experience. How often—over many years and often deep into
the night—had I wrestled with these discordant and prickly facts. At rare
intervals, after puzzling over clues that simply would not fit, I would be
granted a new hint (perhaps from a colleague who did not appreciate its value)
or I might stumble around a corner and unexpectedly alight upon a new vantage
point. On these occasions, I would quickly run back to the primary evidence yet
one more time to test a new hypothesis. And sometimes—unexpectedly, and to my
great amazement—the pieces finally fit, and I could only wonder how I had
missed that particular insight for so long. The fact though is that this case
has been so utterly muddled from the beginning (because of the misleading
evidence) that it was possible to take only one small step at a time—for fear of
shortly ending up in a ditch or in a blind alley. I would like to believe that
my missteps over the years now permit me—when the cobblestones on the path fit
together like old friends—to jog on ahead at times as I survey new evidence.

I cannot leave Butterfield
behind though without also offering his opinion on the authors of history
textbooks—comments that are directly relevant to our present predicament. These
lines appear on Butterfield’s very next page:

If historical
education gets into the hands of heavy pedagogues, who teach a hard story in a
rigid framework and expect it to be memorized, then new depths of
unimaginativeness will have been reached, not possible of attainment without an
education in history. If men at twenty learn to see events of history in a
certain framework, and learn that framework so thoroughly that it remains on
their minds in after-years—if they learn it without acquiring imagination and
elasticity of mind—then we can say. . . , that by the study of history, a
merely probable national disaster can be converted into a one hundred per cent

That is exactly what
has happened in this case. Whereas initially even the media had some doubt61
about Oswald’s guilt, there is now none at all—a one hundred per cent certainty
now reigns among the mainstream media and among mainstream historians.62
Particularly illuminating is the case of one eastern historian, whose early
essays seemed to appreciate some paradoxes in this case. His more recent
attitude, on the other hand, has been strident and mocking—a contrast to his
initial outlook. He has forgotten how, as a younger man, he himself felt about
the fundamental uncertainties in this case. In his now hardened position, he is
the model of the historian whose mental elasticity has vanished and whose
framework has long since been frozen in concrete. For such elasticity of
thought, our only hope would now appear to be a new generation of historians
whose eyes have not yet been covered by “the hands of heavy pedagogues.” This
is not necessarily a severe criticism of this historian, nor is he especially
unusual; even Einstein could never accept the full implications of quantum
theory. Ironically, it was not for his new theory of relativity, but as a
reward for his 1905 groundbreaking work on the photoelectric effect (in quantum
mechanics) that he won a Nobel Prize in physics.


Two books from an
earlier period of my life are particularly interesting for the light that they
shed on a superficially innocent time, but one that, in fact, had a more
ominous underlying reality: (1) Fred J. Cook,63 The Corrupted
Land: the Social Morality of Modern America
(1966), and (2) Walter Goodman,
All Honorable Men: Corruption and Compromise in American Life (1963). Both
volumes review the quiz shows of that era. This sorry episode of American
history provides a profound, even frightening, insight into the morality of the
common man.

In addition, Richard
N. Goodwin (the husband of the LBJ biographer, Doris Kearns Goodwin), has
described his personal conversations, as a Congressional investigator, with
Herbie Stempel and with Charles Van Doren. Goodwin recalls a single, chilling
episode (regarding a quiz show participant) that may shed more light on the
probable state of mind of the post-assassination accomplices in the JFK murder
than any other incident I have ever known:

A young,
impoverished, poorly briefed, Greenwich Village poet realized, in the middle of
his appearance, that he was being asked the identical questions put to him
during an earlier private session with a producer. On air, watched by millions
of people, he felt compelled to answer, but immediately afterward he accused
the production team of fraud and angrily refused to return for his next
appearance. He wanted no part of their phony quiz show. The producers were
stunned. And they had a right to be. For in my entire investigation, I found no
other individual who refused to participate. A man of principle, or a fool
[ed.—literally, a Village idiot], he alone sailed against the wind. I don’t
even remember his name, but I owe him a debt of gratitude, living proof that at
least one man could cling to moral principle amid the wonderland of fantasy and
greed. (Richard N. Goodwin, Remembering America 1988, pp. 58-59)

What can we expect
next in the JFK case? If one thing is certain, it is that the media will not
inform the public. Their recent behavior—after a jury reached a conspiracy
verdict in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.—only clinches the
point. This somewhat surprising verdict received only scant mention in the
media. America’s newspaper of record, The New York Times (10 December
1999), buried it deep inside that day’s edition—on page 25—while the front page
carried a story about a new weight loss method used by Chinese women. In the
JFK case, a major breakthrough would be just one American history
textbook  that merely mentioned the possibility of a post-assassination
cover-up in the medical evidence. Given the past record of the publishers, though,
that is not likely to occur anytime soon.

Nor does the
publishers’ primary motive of profit provide grounds for optimism. Most likely
this troubling new view of history will unfold in books and articles of limited
circulation. Eventually, a critical mass of published material will accumulate,
sufficient to bring about a thorough transformation of the textbooks and even
(this will surely be the last step) the recognition by the media that something
went thoroughly wrong in America, not just on 22 November  1963, but also
in the tragic days that followed. Perhaps I can even hope that some day my
grandchildren, as yet unborn, will no longer be required to listen to such
myths in school, but may instead learn authentic American history from those troubling
days and nights. I would not even mind if other similar myths were barred from
the classroom. Perhaps I, too, am not yet too old to dream.

Addendum 1: The Roger
McCarthy Affidavit

I, Roger L. McCarthy,
having been duly sworn, declare as follows:

1. I am Chief Executive Officer of Failure Analysis,
Associates, Inc., (FaAA) which is headquartered in Menlo Park California. FaAA,
founded in 1967, is the largest engineering firm in the nation dedicated
primarily to the analysis and prevention of failures of an engineering or
scientific nature. FaAA is a wholly owned subsidiary and the largest operating
unit of The Failure Group, Inc., (Failure). Failure employs almost 500 full
time staff, including almost 300 degreed professionals, more than 90 of whom hold
doctorates in their fields. We maintain nine offices in the U.S., three in
Europe, and one in Canada. I am also Chief Executive Officer of The Failure
Group, Inc. The Failure Group, Incorporated is a publicly traded company on the
NASDAQ exchange, under the symbol “FAIL.”

2. I hold five academic degrees: 1) A Bachelor of Arts in
Philosophy from the University of Michigan, 2) A Bachelor of Science in
Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, 3) An S.M. degree in
Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 4) The
professional degree of Mechanical Engineer (Mech. E.) from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and 5) A Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I graduated from the University of
Michigan Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, the Outstanding Undergraduate in
Mechanical Engineering in 1972, and a National Science Foundation Fellow.

3. I am a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer in
the states of California (#M20040) and Arizona (#13684). I have authored
several dozen scientific papers, and currently serve on the Visiting Committee
of MIT’s Mechanical Engineering Department. In 1992 I was appointed by
President Bush to two year term on the President’s Commission on the National
Medal of Science. I have attached my current resume with a listing of my
publications as exhibit 1.

4. In early 1992 Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. (FaAA)
was approached by the representatives of the American Bar Association (ABA) to
assist in putting together a “courtroom of the 21st century” instructional
session, in the form of a mock trial, for the Annual ABA meeting, which was to
be held that summer in San Francisco, California. FaAA was involved in the process
of selecting the topic of the trial, which was eventually decided to be the
trial of Lee Harvey Oswald for first degree murder for the assassination of
President John. F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. To simplify the task in
coordinating the extensive computer analysis and evidence, FaAA agreed to
provide the expert witness analysis, and the testifying experts themselves, for
both the prosecution and defense. Separate teams were assembled to assist each

5. While FaAA was not funded for the investigation or
evidence developed for either side, we applied the best techniques available to
some, but certainly not all, of the questions that have remained concerning the
assassination, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s role in it. The “Courtroom of the 21st
Century” theme required the most modern computerized animation and video
presentation. There was not a conclusion reached by FaAA as a company
concerning the issues of the assassination. Each of our teams did its best
within the factual, time and resource constraints to assist the two eminent
trial lawyer teams to resolve the key issues for their respective sides. In the
end, after two days of trial, the mock jury, selected by the jury analysis firm
DecisionQuest, was split 7 for conviction and 5 for acquittal of Lee Harvey
Oswald on the first degree murder charge.

6. Each of our teams sought to find sufficient
information in the extensive investigation records of the Warren Commission,
and the House Select Committee proceedings, that, when combined with the
unparalleled technical analysis skills of our organization, would produce
incontrovertible scientific findings that would resolve some of the outstanding
issues one way or another. I believe the jury’s inability to resolve Oswald’s
guilt in light of FaAA’s investigation, and state-of-the-art visualization,
stems from the fact that 1) FaAA did not have the time or resources to
completely analyze the whole investigatory record, and 2) there are gaps in the
factual record that our analysis was unable to bridge. For example, if the
National Archives could locate the brain of President Kennedy, which was sent
to them and not buried with his body, we believe the direction of the fatal
bullet could be incontrovertibly resolved.

7. Subsequent to our presentation one Gerald Posner
contacted Dr. Robert Piziali, the leader of the prosecution team, and requested
copies of the prosecution material, but not defense material, which we
provided. Eventually Random House published a book by Mr. Posner entitled Case
. While Mr. Posner acknowledges in the book the material from Failure
Analysis Associates he does not mention or acknowledge the ABA, or mention or
acknowledge that there was additional material prepared by FaAA for the
defense. Incredibly, Mr. Posner makes no mention of the fact that the mock jury
that heard and saw the technical material that he believes is so persuasive and
“closed” the case, but which also saw the FaAA material prepared for the
defense, could not reach a verdict.

8. In early televised interviews of Mr. Posner that were
witnessed by FaAA staff, Mr. Posner made no attempt to correct any supposition
by a questioner that the FaAA analytical work was performed at his request for
him, and certainly left quite the opposite impression.

Further the affiant sayth not.

This affidavit was signed by Roger L. McCarthy and
notarized on 6 December 1993.

Addendum 2: My
Response to Max Holland

In The Nation (7 December 1998) Max Holland
claimed that there was only an armful of books of lasting value on the
assassination, which he listed. Given Holland’s bias, it was hardly surprising
that none of these books makes a serious case for conspiracy. Each book, in my
view, either is seriously flawed (Holland even admits this about one), riddled
with errors of fact, or grossly biased. All are now hopelessly out of date.
Serious—even devastating—critiques of these books have appeared elsewhere; it
is outside the scope of this essay to itemize these critiques. Surprisingly,
though, during Holland’s rather long discussion, he scarcely mentioned the
medical evidence—the primarily decisive evidence—so I thought it wise to remind
him of this. My letter appears below. It was never published and Holland has
never acknowledged it. A friendly note from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., suggested
that a reply from Holland, even if informal, would have been appropriate. To
date only silence has reigned. Such silence, particularly when preceded by
embarrassing, but authentic, questions about this case, has become the
signature trademark of the historians (and the journalists, too).

13 December 1998

Letters to the Editor, The Nation

13 Irving Place

New York, New York 10003

Re: “The Docudrama That Is JFK” by Max Holland

Dear Editor:

Mr. Holland’s (JFK) opus meanders intoxicatingly from
piccolo to contra bassoon but only fleetingly sounds the leitmotiv of the
assassination. For those who are not tonally deaf, that central theme is heard
in the medical evidence.

From the new medical depositions taken by the
Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), we now know that the only recognized
autopsy photographer, John Stringer, did not take the autopsy photographs of
the brain. A memorandum issued by the ARRB strongly suggests that two different
brains were autopsied and that the brain photographs in the National Archives
most likely are not those of JFK. My personal, detailed studies of the autopsy
skull X-rays, including an original use of optical densitometry, show virtually
no brain tissue in a fist-sized area at the front of the skull, just where the
photographs (paradoxically) show nearly intact brain. My measurements are not
only consistent with the conclusions of the ARRB, but actually anticipated them
by several years.

The shot (or shots) to the head pose even worse
conundrums for Holland. If he agrees with the pathologists that JFK was struck
low on the right rear of the skull, he then has no explanation for the obvious
trail of metallic debris that lies more than 4 inches higher. Alternately, if
he concludes that a bullet entered much higher, he must then believe that all
three qualified pathologists were wrong by 4 inches, and that an absurdly
unique event occurred in the history of ballistics—namely that an internal 6.5
mm cross section of a bullet was sliced out and then migrated 1 cm lower and
stayed there. In addition, and after all this, he must also believe that the
trail of metallic debris still lies well above his proposed entry site. No
ballistics expert has ever testified to seeing so much nonsense from one

Even worse for Holland, just within the past year,
Larry Sturdivan, the ballistics expert for the 1977–78 Congressional
investigation, has insisted that this 6.5 mm cross section cannot represent a
metallic fragment at all—thus crippling the central basis for the conclusions
reached in prior official inquiries. My own research on the X-rays over the
past 5 years (performed at the National Archives and now published in Assassination
, edited by James Fetzer) agrees with Sturdivan that this object
cannot be a real piece of metal. I have, in addition, shown how simple it was
in that era deliberately to manufacture an altered X-ray with a 6.5 mm metallic
image added to it (so that Oswald’s rifle would be incriminated). Finally, at
my request the ARRB specifically asked each of the autopsy pathologists under
oath if they recalled seeing this flagrantly obvious, 6.5 mm object on the
X-rays during the autopsy. Just as I had predicted, none of them could recall
this artifact—one that my 7-year-old (nonradiologist) son instantly spotted on
the extant anterior skull X-ray.

It is past time for Holland to transport his opus from
the baroque era into the modern era. The new themes composed by the ARRB must
now be played for a younger audience whose ear canals are not yet encrusted by
decades of earwax. The baroque era is over.

Sincerely yours,

David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D.

Assoc. Prof. of Radiation Sciences, School of

Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA

Ph.D., Physics, University of Wisconsin, 1967

M.D., University of Michigan, 1976

Board Certified by the American College of Radiology,

Addendum 3:
The Dreyfus Affair

On 9 October 1859, Alfred Dreyfus was born into a
prosperous Jewish family in Mulhausen, Upper Alsace, France. Following the
unification efforts of Otto von Bismarck, the Germans took possession of the
provinces of Alsace and Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In
1874, Dreyfus left Alsace to live in France. He became a French army officer at
age 21 and by 1894 (age 34) he was assigned to the general staff. Although the
French feared Germany, hope of recovering the lost provinces was still high;
the French looked to the army for leadership, contrasting the officers to the
politicians who were too often seen as corrupt and ineffective.

In September 1894, a memorandum (“bordereau”) was
found in the wastebasket of the German military attaché in Paris. It was an
unsigned letter promising information about secret military matters. Because
his handwriting was similar to the memorandum—and also possibly because he was
a Jew64 and had lived in Alsace, where he still had
connections—Dreyfus was arrested on 15 October 1894.

Despite his claims of innocence, Dreyfus was convicted
by a court martial which met in secret. He was deported to Devil’s Island in
French Guiana. At the trial, his own lawyer was not permitted to see the
evidence against him.

The attitude of French high society toward this case
is apparent from its veneration of General August Mercier, the Minister of War
(in 1894), who had first ordered the arrest. At parties of the haut monde,
ladies rose to their feet when Mercier entered the room.

In May 1896, new evidence suggested that another
French officer, Major Marie Charles Esterhazy, was communicating with the
German military attache. The counterespionage unit had a new head, Lt. Col.
Georges Picquart, who found that Esterhazy’s handwriting was a remarkable match
to that of the memorandum. Rather than investigating further, however,
Picquart’s superiors reassigned him to Tunisia on a dangerous expedition to
silence him, but not before he had confided his discovery to a legal advisor.

Alfred’s brother, Mathieu, then took up the cause. By
October 1897, Esterhazy’s name was mentioned publicly and a trial seemed
inevitable. Military officials, however, resisted this attempt; more
incriminating material was probably added to the secret file against Dreyfus
during this time and, in January 1898, Esterhazy was acquitted during a court
marital held behind closed doors.

Emilie Zola, the great novelist, then immediately
published a newspaper article entitled “J’accuse” (“I accuse”) which charged
the authorities with conspiring to imprison an innocent man and also to permit
a guilty man to remain free, an action that astonished the world. Queen
Victoria was stupefied, and negative reactions arrived from around the world,
including Berlin, Chicago, and Melbourne. Zola was shortly thereafter convicted
of libel and had to flee the country. Many thought that a Jewish conspiracy was
out to humiliate the French army, while others thought that the military was
arrogant, evading an admission of error and resisting civil authority. The
Catholic Church opposed a retrial, thus reviving the old issue of separation of
church and state.

On 31 August 1898, Major Hubert J. Henry, an
intelligence officer, committed suicide while under arrest at Mont Valerien,
but not before admitting that he had forged one of the secret Dreyfus
documents. Esterhazy promptly fled France and Dreyfus was returned to Rennes
for a new trial, which began on 7 August 1899 (one year after the suicide).
Dreyfus, although his innocence was now scarcely in doubt, was again found
guilty—but under extenuating circumstances—and he was persuaded to accept a
pardon from the French President.

In 1904, more forgeries were discovered in the files
and on 12 July 1906, the Cour du Cassation, after a lengthy review, declared
unanimously that Dreyfus had been innocent all along—and reinstated him in the
army. Esterhazy and Henry were now considered to be the true culprits, who had
supplied secrets to the Germans. They had used anti-Semitic sentiment to throw
suspicion on Dreyfus—who was thereafter awarded the Legion of Honor. Picquart
was also restored to the army—with a rank of general of the brigade—and within
three months Clemenceau appointed him minister of war. And Zola, whose letter
had been so critical in the whole process, was given a last resting place in
the Pantheon on 4 June 1908. During the procession to the Pantheon, a
journalist, Gregori, twice shot at Dreyfus, causing a minor injury to his
forearm. He was later acquitted of a murder charge, his plea being that he had
merely intended a “demonstration.”

The Dreyfus affair had been a French nightmare for
twelve years. An unintended consequence was the official separation of church
and state. Dreyfus went on to serve in World War I, retiring as a lieutenant
colonel. On July 12, 1935, at the age of 74, he died in Paris. Today his statue
still stands in Paris at Boulevard Raspail and Boulevard Montparnasse near the
Luxembourg Gardens and the great Balzac by Rodin.

Dreyfus sources

1. The Encyclopedia Britanica (sic), 11th edition, volume 2, pp.
143-145 (1910). Cambridge, England.

2. The Encyclopedia Britanica (sic), 11th edition, volume 8, p. 579
(1910). Cambridge, England.

3. The Proud Tower, A Portrait of the World Before the
War: 1890-1914,
Barbara Tuchman (1966). The Macmillan Company, New York,
New York.

4. The Dreyfus Case, Louis Snyder (1973). Rutgers
University Press.

5. The Diary of Captain A.F. Dreyfus, Beekman (1977); a reprint of the 1901

6. The Affair, Jean-Denis Bredin; tr. by Jeffrey
Mehlman (1986). Braziller.

7. The Dreyfus Affair: Art, Truth, and
Norman Kleeblart, ed. (1987). University of California Press.

8. Encyclopedia Americana, volume 9, p. 395-396 (1997). Grolier,
Inc., Danbury, CT.

Addendum 4:

The Social Contract
is nothing more or less than a vast conspiracy of human beings to lie to and humbug
themselves and one another for the general Good. Lies are the mortar that bind
the savage individual man into the social masonry.

—Herbert G. Wells

Conspire: L. conspirare, to breathe together. 1.
to plan and act together secretly, esp. in order to commit a crime.

Foreign (20th

Franz Ferdinand, Rajiv
Gandhi, Louis Mountbatten, Czar Nicholas II, Adolf Hitler, Rafael Trujillo, Salvadore
Allende, Charles DeGaulle, Benigno Aquino, Anwar Sadat, Luis Colosio, Leon
Trotsky, Ngo Dinh Diem, Rene Schneider, Pancho Villa, Ngo Dinh Nhu, Jacobo
Arbenz, Grigorii Rasputin, Mohammed Mossadegh, Fidel Castro, Walter Reuther, 65,
Patrice Lumumba,  Malcolm X,  Pope John Paul II, 66

Fraser: British
History 67

Stephen (1135-54): attacked in battle by his own wife
and his wife’s uncle.

Henry II (1154-89): Thomas a Becket is assassinated.

Richard I (1189-99):
Richard and King Philip of France defeat Richard’s father, Henry II, in battle,
after which Henry II dies.

John (1199-1216): he
betrays his father, Henry II, in his last days, then battles his brother,
Richard, in a clash over Aquitaine.

Henry III (1216-72):
overthrown in battle at Lewes by Simon de Monfort.

Edward I (1272-1307):
William Wallace leads Scots in revolt & victory at Stirling Bridge.

Edward II (1307-27):
Edward’s best friend, Gaviston, is captured and murdered by his enemies. The
King’s first cousin, Thomas of Lancaster, plots against him. After defeat of
English at Bannockburn, Thomas controls the strings. Later, his Queen, and her
consort, invade England, and the King retires. His jailers later thrust a
red-hot spit into his bowels, in order not to leave a mark on him.

Richard II (1377-99):
revolt of peasants led by Wat Tyler. Gloucester, Arundel, the Earl of Warwick
lead attack against the King. The Merciless Parliament of 1388 leads a
full-scale attack on the King’s household. Bolingbroke sails from Boulogne and
Richard’s troops desert. Richard is later secretly murdered in Pontefract
Castle, leaving Bolingbroke (Henry IV) haunted by guilt.

Henry IV:
(1399-1413): see prior paragraph.

Henry VI (1422–71):
York’s oldest son enters London in triumph, while the King and Queen escape
over the border to Scotland. Henry regains the throne nine years later, but
then loses it again and spends his last years as a wandering fugitive. He is
eventually executed.

Edward IV (1461-83):
Warwick leads a revolt against the King.

Richard III 1483-85):
Buckingham, with the assistance of the Woodvilles and the exiled Henry Tudor,
revolts against the King. Henry wins the final battle and Richard’s dead body
is thrown over a packhorse for burial.

Henry VIII (1509-47):
Norfolk and Gardiner conspire against Essex.

Charles I (1625-49):
He loses his head in the Revolution, making a short king even shorter.

Charles II (1660-85):
Coleman and the Jesuits are killed in the matter of the Popish plot. The word,
“cabal,” enters the English language.

James II (1685-88):
William of Orange lands in England and displaces the King, who was allowed to
hunt and philander until a stroke took him away at age 66. Perhaps he had the
better of the deal, after all.

George I (1714-27):
South Sea bubble leads to huge financial losses for some. Walpole becomes
England’s first prime minister. A succession of Jacobite plots follow—most
notably one led by Bishop Attbury’s conspiracy.

George III
(1760-1820): Americans conspire against Parliament and Crown. The King is also
the target of several assassination attempts. Mother Nature, via porphyria,
conspires against the King

George IV (1910-36):
forged Zinoviev letter leads to downfall of government.

George VI (1936-52):
Real Indians, led by Gandhi, conspire against British rule.

Elizabeth II (1952-):
death of Princess Diana (?)68

Addendum 5. Believers
in a

JFK Assassination Conspiracy

Lyndon Baines
Johnson, President of the United States69

Richard M. Nixon,
President of the United States70

John B. Connally,
Governor of Texas71

J. Edgar Hoover,
Director of the FBI

Clyde Tolson,
Associate Director of the FBI72

Cartha DeLoach,
Assistant Director of the FBI

William Sullivan, FBI
Domestic Intelligence Chief

John McCone, Director
of the CIA

David Atlee Phillips,
CIA disinformation specialist

(Chief of Covert Actions, Mexico City, 1963)

Stanley Watson, CIA,
Chief of Station

The Kennedy family73

Admiral (Dr.) George
Burkley, White House physician

James J. Rowley,
Chief of the Secret Service74

Robert Knudsen, White
House photographer (who saw autopsy photos)

Jesse Curry, Chief of
Police,75 Dallas Police Department

Roy Kellerman (heard
JFK speak after supposed magic bullet)

William Greer (the
driver of the Lincoln limousine)

Abraham Bolden,
Secret Service, White House detail & Chicago office

John Norris, Secret
Service (worked for LBJ; researched case for decades)

Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s

Abraham Zapruder,
most famous home movie photographer in history

James Tague, struck
by a bullet fragment in Dealey Plaza

Hugh Huggins, CIA
operative, conducted private investigation for RFK

Sen. Richard Russell,
member of the Warren Commission

John J. McCloy,
member of the Warren Commission

Bertrand Russell,
British mathematician and philosopher

Hugh Trevor-Roper,
Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University

Michael Foot, British

Senator Richard
Schweiker, assassinations subcommittee (Church Committee)

Tip O’Neill, Speaker
of the House (he assumed JFK’s congressional seat)

Rep. Henry Gonzalez
(introduced bill to establish HSCA)

Rep. Don Edwards,
chaired HSCA hearings (former FBI agent)

Frank Ragano,
attorney for Trafficante, Marcello, Hoffa

Marty Underwood,
advance man for Dallas trip

Riders in follow-up
car: JFK aides Kenny O’Donnell and Dave Powers

Sam Kinney, Secret
Service driver of follow-up car

Paul Landis,
passenger in Secret Service follow-up car

John Marshall, Secret

John Norris, Secret

H. L. Hunt,
right-wing oil baron

John Curington, H.L.
Hunt’s top aide

Bill Alexander,
Assistant Dallas District Attorney

Robert Blakey, Chief
Counsel for the HSCA

Robert Tanenbaum,
Chief Counsel for the HSCA

Richard A. Sprague,
Chief Counsel for the HSCA

Gary Cornwell, Deputy
Chief Counsel for the HSCA

Parkland doctors:
McClelland, Crenshaw, Stewart, Seldin, Goldstrich, Zedlitz, Jones, Akin, and

Bethesda witnesses:
virtually all of the paramedical personnel

All of the jurors in
Garrison’s trial of Clay Shaw76

Bobby Hargis, Dealey
Plaza motorcycle man

Mary Woodward, Dallas
Morning News
(and eyewitness in Dealey Plaza)

Maurice G. Marineau,
Secret Service, Chicago office

Most of the American

Most of the world’s


Gary L. Aguilar has
contributed greatly to this piece with several critical suggestions. Michael
Parenti’s bibliography on historiography was a passport to new lands for me.
John Newman, Douglas Horne, Roger Peterson, Jim DiEugenio, Dennis Bartholomew,
Walt Brown, Michael Kurtz, Patricia L. James, Harry Livingstone, and John and
Sherry Szabo have all provided useful reviews and vital suggestions.

It is especially
gratifying to thank my own son, Christopher (now 14), for his unique insights.
I especially recall our discussion over dinner in San Diego, after viewing the
film, 1984. In addition, we have had pleasant discussions about many
books cited here that he has also read. I also thank my daughter, Meredith (now
12), and my wife, Patricia, for tolerating my preoccupation with this case.