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Many researchers believe the 6.5 mm fragment seen in the available JFK autopsy skull x-rays is strong evidence of fraud—fraud in those skull x-rays and in the autopsy report. What follows are edited extracts from messages and dialogues on this subject on the Internet.
Dr. Mantik on Another Problem with the 6.5 mm Fragment
Dr. David Mantik, an exceptionally qualified radiologist who also possesses a degree in physics, has pointed out yet another problem with the 6.5 mm fragment seen in the x-rays in evidence. Before we consider this problem, let us first consider a little background information on why the fragment is strong evidence of fraud in the x-rays. Dr. Mantik:
The 6.5 mm object embedded in the posterior skull near the cowlick area was described neither by the pathologists nor by the radiologist Ebersole at the autopsy, even though they all viewed the radiographs in the morgue and they were all looking for bullet fragments. Was it added later to implicate the Mannlicher-Carcano bullet? (The JFK Assassination: Cause for Doubt, p. 19)
Mention could also be made of the fact that the official account of how the 6.5 mm fragment was deposited assumes a behavior for the alleged Carcano missile that is viewed by forensic pathologists and ballistics experts as highly unlikely to virtually impossible. According to the official story, this fragment "sheared off" a 6.5 mm Carcano missile as it struck the skull. Not only this, but the fragment somehow ended up below the entrance point, instead of above it as would seem to be demanded by the laws of physics. Anyway, Dr. Mantik points out another problem with this suspicious fragment:
This 6.5 mm object is presumably the cross section of a bullet. Amazingly, however, both the nose and the tail of this same bullet were said to have been found in the front of the limousine. How is it possible for a nearly complete cross section from somewhere inside the bullet to embed itself on the outside of the skull? Experts have never seen a nose fragment from a fully jacketed bullet embed itself in this manner, 1 cm below the entry site, to say nothing of an internal cross section performing such an astounding feat. (The JFK Assassination: Cause for Doubt, pp. 19-20, original emphasis)
Dr. Gary Aguilar and Nurse Kathy Cunningham:
Several things make this fragment intriguing. First, despite the fact the pathologists were charged with retrieving bullet evidence from JFK’s corpse for the expected trial of Oswald, they entirely ignored this, the largest, radio-opaque object in all of JFK’s X-rays. On the radiographs, it is flattened against the posterior parietal bone at the back of skull, and so it would have been much more easy to locate during the autopsy than the two, smaller fragments the surgeons actually recovered from Kennedy’s brain. Not fishing out the big one was one thing, but why didn’t the surgeons even mention its existence anywhere in their reports, if only to say they looked for it but couldn’t find it? The mystery is deepened by the significance they themselves attached to getting precisely this kind of evidence.
For example, during his Warren Commission testimony, Humes took pains to explain the importance of extracting bullet evidence. And he was equally, if unintentionally, clear that he did not see the object that would today immediately draw the eye of any layman, to say nothing of a pursuing pathologist or radiologist. Humes told the Warren Commission that the X-rays revealed, “30 or 40 tiny dust like particle fragments of radio opaque material, with the exception of this one I previously mentioned which was seen to be above and very slightly behind the right orbit [bony eye socket]... .” (emphasis added) The “one” he’d previously mentioned was the 7 x 2-mm fragment, which is visible in the X-rays to this day just where he said he saw it: above and very slightly behind the right orbit. In other words, he apparently didn’t see the far more obvious fragment that was visible smack dab “in the middle” of the orbit, or eye socket. Instead, he went after one less than half its size, and one that was above the orbit.
Given his apparently misdirected zeal, Humes ironically told the Commission that his goal was to land the big one. “(We performed) a careful inspection of this large defect in the scalp and skull...seeking for fragments of missile … .” And, “(we tried to) seek specifically this fragment (the 7x2-mm anterior fragment) which was the one we felt to be of a size which would permit us to recover it. (sic).” The far larger, and so more recoverable, fragment in the rear was embedded in the outer table of the skull. It would have been but the work of a moment to fetch it. By contrast, plowing through soft, dense brain matter for the smaller, 7 x 2-mm fragment might have ended, as such pursuits often do, in frustration, as brain matter often makes great camouflage. The question naturally arises: Might Humes have vainlygloriously embellished the doggedness of his pursuit for the Commission’s benefit? Apparently not.
Humes got unrehearsed corroboration from his associate Pierre Finck, MD, Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman, the radiologist, John Ebersole, MD, as well as FBI agent Francis X. O'Neill. During his appearance before the HSCA, Finck was asked, “All right. Then the X-rays were taken fundamentally to find missiles or fragments thereof?” “Yes,” Finck answered. Kellerman told the Warren Commission, “The reason for it (the taking of numerous skull X-rays) was that through all the probing which these gentlemen were trying to pick up little pieces of evidence in the form of shell fragments, they were unable to locate any ... (except the 7 x 2-mm fragment) that was above the right eye... .” (Kellerman was wrong here. A second, even smaller fragment of 3 x 1-mm was also removed.) Ebersole, in defending the use of portable X-ray equipment, as opposed to the technically superior fixed equipment in the radiology department, claimed, “...we felt that the portable X-ray equipment was adequate for the purpose; i.e., locating a metallic fragment (sic).” Also, the HSCA's Andy Purdy and Mark Flanagan reported in a recently released HSCA document that “[FBI agent Francis] O’Neill mentioned that the doctors just wanted to obtain the large fragments (from the skull) and that many small fragments did exist.”
Another possible explanation for the failure is that, what with the vagaries of such hunts, since the largest fragment is imaged “in” the eye socket in the A-P X-ray, while pursuing it they mistakenly picked up the smaller one just above the eye socket because it was close enough to have fooled them. While possible, there are multiple problems with this solution.
The 7 x 2-mm fragment they retrieved is easily seen above the orbit on both the A-P and lateral X-rays, exactly where Humes said he saw it (probably with the help of his attendant radiologist). Since the orbit is entirely enclosed by dense bone and not “open” in the back, it’s improbable there’d have been any confusion about the slug being “in” the orbit, or in the front anywhere. Then, there is the fact the pieces are different enough in shape that a mix-up doesn’t make much sense. Finally, the sharpness of the objects in the A-P X-ray would have suggested where they were that night in the morgue, just as they do now.
The closer to an X-ray film, the sharper an opaque object is rendered on the X-ray. The 6.5-mm object is sharply rendered, not fuzzy, because it was in the rear, and so close to the X-ray film when Kennedy’s head was placed against the film canister to take the A-P X-ray. The 7 x 2-mm fragment, by contrast, is “fuzzy,” indistinctly rendered, because it was far from the back of the head, and so from the film plane. While these factors may seem obscure to the general reader, they are routine considerations for autopsists and radiologists, especially when on the lookout. (How Five Investigations Into JFK’s Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got It Wrong, History Matters, 2003, http://www.history-matters.com/essays/jfkmed/How5Investigations/How5InvestigationsGotItWrong_6.htm)
It is no wonder that many researchers view the 6.5 mm fragment as powerful evidence of fraud in the x-rays and in the autopsy report.
Dialogues on the 6.5 mm Fragment
In these edited extracts from dialogues I have had on this issue, the abbreviation "LGT" stands for lone-gunman theorist. A lone- gunman theorist is someone who accepts the Warren Commission's version of the assassination and who therefore believes there was no conspiracy and that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, acted alone (assuming he even fired a shot during the shooting, which I doubt was the case).
Some researchers have compared lone-gunman theorists to the emperor's servants in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes," wherein a vain emperor persuades himself he's wearing a nice new set of clothes when in reality he's naked. When the emperor asks his servants how they like his "new clothes," they reply that they're lovely, splendid, etc. They can't, for whatever reason, bring themselves to admit what they know to be a fact--that the emperor is naked.
In the dialogue extracts that follow, I submit the reader will see this same sort of mentality as the lone-gunman theorist struggles and strains to deny or explain away the clear implications of the 6.5 mm fragment.
LGT: The autopsy doctors might have missed the 6.5 mm fragment, which would explain why they didn't mention it the autopsy report or in their Warren Commission (WC) testimony.
REPLY: For starters, the pathologists closely examined the exact area where the x-rays show the 6.5 mm fragment to be located. How could they have missed it?
Second, we're asked to believe that all three of the autopsists, along with Dr. John Ebersole the radiologist, misinterpreted the x-rays, both the anterior-posterior (AP) view and the lateral view! One can perhaps allow that the doctors might have misinterpreted the AP view as Dr. Bob Artwohl suggests, though this seems a little hard to believe given the fact that they had the skull there in front of them on the autopsy table, but what about the lateral view? How on earth could they have mislocated the 6.5 mm fragment on that radiograph?
Third, Dr. James Humes, the chief autopsy pathologist, said that both of the recovered sizable fragments, the 7 x 2 mm fragment and the 3 x 1 mm fragment, were retrieved from the right frontal area (2 H 354). They were removed from the skull, and both of these would have been readily visible on the x-rays. How, then, could the pathologists and Ebersole have missed the 6.5 mm fragment, which is in fact the largest fragment discernable on the radiographs in evidence, when, again, the two other fragments would have been easily visible on those radiographs?
Fourth, none of Dr. Bob Artwohl's theorizing explains how a 6.5 mm fragment from a hard-jacketed missile could have not only "sheared off" on impact but also ended up below the revised rear head entry wound. And this "revised" entry point, bear in mind, is just a shade under four inches higher than where the autopsy pathologists placed the wound. Furthermore, as we'll see in a bit, the autopsy doctors were not the only ones at the autopsy who placed the rear head entry wound right next to the external occipital protuberance (EOP).
Fifth, there are multiple problems associated with the revised rear head entry wound itself. To accept this wound, which is not clearly demonstrated on the x-rays, one would have to believe that all of the autopsists, including Dr. Pierre Finck, amazingly mislocated this wound by an unbelievable four inches. The entire back of the head is only about five inches in length, as Dr. Michael Baden himself pointed out (Dr. Baden is the former chair of the medical panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations--hereafter cited as HSCA or as the Select Committee). Additionally, the pathologists measured this wound in relation to both the EOP and the hairline, and Dr. J. Thornton Boswell, the third autopsist, in effect triangulated the wound to the EOP in his face sheet. What's more, are you aware that Dr. Ebersole, when he was finally asked about it, likewise said the wound was right next to the EOP?
LGT: Just let me ask you this, Michael. Which happens more frequently: doctors misreading x-rays or someone faking an x-ray? Aside from the JFK books, have you ever in your life heard of anyone forging someone's x-rays?
REPLY: One, find me a single case where four doctors (three pathologists and a radiologist) so horrendously misread on a lateral x-ray a large, an obvious fragment in the back of the head as being in the front of the head. You keep ignoring the fact that they had more than just the AP x-ray to examine. You also keep ignoring the fact that the pathologists manually examined the area around the rear entrance wound, to include reflecting back the scalp. How on the earth could they possibly have failed to see the sizable 6.5 mm fragment in the outer table of the skull?
Two, how often has anybody needed to fake/alter the x-rays of a dead head of
state? Let's compare apples to apples. How often has a White House secretary
"accidentally" erased seventeen minutes of a secret recording made by
the President of the
LGT: No one has ever even shown how x-rays of JFK could have been faked, much less that they were. Unless you can do that, discussing the 6.5 mm fragment as "evidence of forgery" is beside the point.
REPLY: We've covered this before. Dr. Donald Siple, chief radiologist at
If you have an object that cannot have been on the x-rays on the night of the autopsy in its present state, then that is that.
What's more, are you aware that Dr. Ebersole, when he was finally asked about it, likewise said the wound was right next to the EOP?
LGT: Yes, and if Ebersole misread the x-ray as a straight-on A-P view, as Artwohl suggested, that's just about where the wound would've appeared to be. Coincidence?
REPLY: Again, what about the lateral x-ray? How in the world would they have misread the fragment's location from that view? Even assuming for the sake of argument that the unnatural, unusually bright white patch over the back of the head on the lateral x-ray was present on that x-ray on the night of the autopsy, couldn't three pathologists and a radiologist at least have discerned that the 6.5 mm fragment was "somewhere" in the area of the rear part of the skull, instead of way up in the frontal area? Even if they didn't see anything beneath the white patch in the back of the head, the 6.5 mm fragment was not in the frontal area and so its image would not, of course, have appeared in the frontal region. So they would have been able to easily deduce that the fragment was not in the front part of the head.
And, as for the AP radiograph, wouldn't any of the doctors have noticed that the view through the skull was not straight-on? Furthermore, just a quick glance at the lateral view would have immediately told them the 6.5 mm fragment was not way up in the frontal region.
What about the fact that the autopsists reflected the scalp and carefully examined the bone around the entrance wound? How could they have missed this large fragment embedded in the outer table? What about Boswell's and Finck's repeated reports that half of the entry wound was contained in a piece of missing skull and that this skull fragment did not arrive until late that night? This alone rules out the revised entry point. Etc., etc., etc.
Speaking of "coincidence," how about the fact that federal agents Francis O'Neill and Roy Kellerman placed the entry wound right next to the EOP in their HSCA wound diagrams, just as Boswell did on the face sheet and just as Dr. Ebersole did when asked about the fragment?
LGT: Seems to me you're picking up any brick you can use, even if they don't all fit together.
REPLY: That's your only answer to the fact that two federal agents at the autopsy both placed the rear head entry wound where the pathologists and Dr. Ebersole placed it? I know: Another coincidence.
You must not have read my messages, then, or else you've simply forgotten everything that was in them. Boswell did in effect triangulate the wound to the EOP.
LGT: I know you claim Boswell triangulated the wound, but on what basis? Did he interpret numbers on the face sheet as a triangulation? When?
Again, we've already covered this. I'm not going to keep repeating the same information like I used to do when I first began to dialogue with you. For starters, see Livingstone, Killing the Truth, pp. 129-130.
LGT: All I recall seeing is that Humes and Finck said they measured the wound. You gather from this that we now know it's a fact. Finck also said that the entry wound "is the wound in the lower, lower portion of the photograph, near the hairline." Is that also a fact now?
REPLY: A wound a fraction of an inch above the EOP could certainly be said to be "near the hairline." And are you saying the pathologists lied about measuring the wound? So, when you have no other option, you will turn on your previously infallible autopsy doctors and accuse them of lying about such a basic point as their incidental, perfectly believable statement that they measured the rear entry wound?
LGT: Unfortunately, there is nothing visible in the photo there. Secondly, Finck pointed to something "in the lower, lower portion of the photograph, near the hairline." That's surely the blob of tissue that Humes said was the wound when he first testified to the HSCA, and that ain't above the EOP.
REPLY: And it surely "ain't" a whopping four inches higher up in the cowlick, is it? Perhaps this is why Dr. Finck, as we now know, questioned how the photo of the back of the head had been established as having been taken at the autopsy. He did so because it didn't show the head in anything resembling the condition it was in on the night of the autopsy. Perhaps this is also why both autopsy photographers John Stringer and Floyd Riebe have specifically denied taking the photo of the back of the head. Who took it, then?
Those photos don't show a visible wound in the occiput either, yet we now know from released HSCA files that witness after witness at the autopsy saw one there, and Tom Robinson, the mortician, told the HSCA that there was still a visible hole in the back of the head even after the inclusion of late-arriving bone fragments from Dallas. Furthermore, as I've noted several times, we also know that Ebersole told the HSCA that a large fragment of occipital bone arrived late that night (the occiput, bear in mind, is in the back of the skull). And on and on and on we could go.
Artwohl's "explanation" ignores most of the problems with the non-reporting of the 6.5 fragment by the autopsists.
LGT: How did you refute Artwohl's explanation? I think he answered your "problems" quite plausibly.
REPLY: How in the world can you say this when he fails to credibly explain how the doctors could have misread the 6.5 fragment's location on the lateral x-rays? Nor does he address the fact that the pathologists handled and examined the area of the entry wound for hours. Nor does he address the fact that they reflected the scalp around the entry wound and examined the skull, the outer table of the skull, and would have surely spotted the large 6.5 mm fragment "embedded" therein.
LGT: I'm not a mindreader and don't need to be. It's on the x-rays. And S&O (Sibert and O'Neill, two FBI agents who were at the autopsy) said, "The next largest fragment appeared to be at the rear of the skull at the juncture of the skull bone." Where do you see any other fragment in that location?
REPLY: We already discussed this matter at length. Also, since S&O could have only gotten this information from the pathologists (assuming no foul play was involved), how, then, can you say that the pathologists thought the 6.5 mm fragment was in the frontal area as a result of "misreading" the anterior-posterior (AP) x-ray?! Please answer this question.
Both the nose and tail of this missile were supposedly found in the limo. Again, as Dr. Mantik asked, how is it possible for a nearly complete cross section from inside the bullet to embed itself on the outer table of the skull?
LGT: Again, who ever claimed it was a cross section from inside the bullet? Nobody I've heard of yet. Is this a straw man argument?
REPLY: You're not listening. And this idea that the 6.5 mm fragment exuded from the base of the bullet as the missile was entering the skull--well, how, if it was merely pushed out the back of the bullet as the bullet penetrated the skull, would it have become embedded in the outer table skull? This theory is laughable. What about the fragment identified by Dr. G. M. McDonnell for the HSCA, which he noted slightly to the left of the 6.5 mm fragment? Where in the world did that fragment come from? And how would it also have become embedded in the skull's outer table if it was merely lead pushed out of the back of the bullet as the missile entered the skull? What force would have caused these fragments to become embedded in the skull?
By the way, a couple messages ago you suggested that Ebersole also "misread" the AP x-ray, but you ignored the fact that he also saw the rear entry wound on the head. Nor did you address the fact that he and the other doctors didn't just examine the AP x-ray but also the lateral x-ray.
You still have not answered my questions about your theory regarding the 6.5 mm fragment. Allow me to ask them again, along with a couple others:
1. If, as you and Artwohl suggest, the pathologists and Ebersole "misread" the fragment's location on the AP x-ray and erroneously concluded it was in the right frontal area, and if the back-of-the-head fragment referenced by Sibert and O'Neill refers to the 6.5 mm fragment, how, then, could S&O have learned about the fragment from the autopsy doctors? And if they didn't learn about it from the pathologists, from whom did they learn of it?
Let's put it another way. If you want to say S&O were describing the 6.5 mm fragment, fine. But then you must explain how S&O could have learned about this fragment except from the prosectors. Since they could have only learned of the back-of-the-head fragment's existence from the pathologists, how, then, can you suggest that those same pathologists, along with Ebersole, believed the fragment was in the right frontal area as a result of misreading the AP x-ray?
2. If the S&O reference to a back-of-the-head fragment refers to the 6.5 mm fragment, and if this fragment was present at the autopsy, and if S&O learned about it from the pathologists (which was the only way they could have learned of it), why wasn't the fragment removed? There is no doubt whatsoever the pathologists were looking for retrievable fragments, and the 6.5 mm fragment, which was supposedly located on the outer table of the skull, would have been easily recovered. Why, then, wasn't it retrieved?
3. How could the prosectors and Ebersole have misread the fragment's location on the lateral x-ray? (Can anyone really believe that three pathologists and a radiologist could, on a lateral x-ray, misread a fragment in the back of the head as being near the right eye? And, again, even assuming that for some reason they could not see the rear region of the skull on the lateral x-ray, they surely would have noticed that the fragment was not in the frontal region in the lateral x-ray and thus would have quickly deduced that it must be in the rear region.)
4. What about the fact that the pathologists removed the two sizable fragments that were near the right eye?
5. What about the fact that the pathologists closely examined the area around the rear head entry wound, to include reflecting back the scalp and examining the skull bone around the wound? Specifically, how could they have missed the 6.5 mm fragment, which was supposedly embedded in the outer table of the skull just below the entry wound? (For that matter, how could they have so horrendously "misplaced" the entry wound itself given the length and nature of the examination of that wound? With regard to the wound's location, I would again point out that Kellerman and O'Neill, in their HSCA wound diagrams, placed the wound in almost the exact same spot that the autopsists placed it. Additionally, Dr. Ebersole likewise placed the wound was right next to the EOP. And Sibert, though he placed it slightly higher, still did not put in the cowlick--he didn't put it a whopping four inches higher than the location given by the prosectors.)
6. What about Finck's and Boswell's consistent reports that half of the rear head entry wound was contained in a piece of missing skull bone that did not arrive until late that night? (Boswell diagrammed this on his face sheet, Finck mentioned it in his notes on the autopsy, and both men confirmed it to the HSCA. This aspect of the wound alone rules out the revised entry point suggested by the Clark Panel and by the HSCA.)
7. What about the fact that O'Neill and Kellerman, in their HSCA wound diagrams, placed the rear head entry wound in nearly the same spot that the autopsists located it?
8. Why is the S&O description of the back-of-the-head fragment so vague? Exact sizes and clear locations were given for the two fragments that were recorded as being retrieved--why wasn't this done for the back-of-the-head fragment?
Please answer these questions.
LGT: Artwohl gave several reasons for believing that the doctors (and/or the radiologist) confused the two largest fragments on the lateral x-ray. Then S&O "in their report, reflected this misinterpretation and placed the largest fragment anteriorly." The S&O quote is actually evidence that the doctors mislocated it. Before you reject this explanation out of hand, please reread his note carefully and think about it.
REPLY: But the pathologists said nothing about any fragment in the back of the head! Not in their reports, not in their testimony, not anywhere--not a word. If the pathologists had seen this large fragment, which would have been obvious on the lateral x-rays, at least one of them certainly would have mentioned it. Yet it's clear they did see some kind of fragment in the back of the skull because S&O mentioned a back-of-the-head fragment, and they said they only reported what the autopsy doctors told them.
The 6.5 mm fragment is the largest fragment on the extant x-rays, but Humes said the largest fragment was in the frontal area, and he retrieved this fragment. You need to explain this problem. Your theory just can't explain the evidence. However, Mantik's discovery explains the evidence perfectly: On the night of the autopsy, the back-of-the-head fragment was the second largest fragment, just as S&O said it was. But, the image of the fragment was altered--it was enlarged to the present image of the 6.5 mm object. That's why it's the largest image on the current--altered--autopsy x-rays. The genuine metal fragment that Mantik found benath the superimposed image of 6.5 mm object is consistent with S&O's description of the back-of-the-head fragment that was seen on the night of the autopsy.
Let's put it another way. I'll say it again: If you want to say S&O were describing the 6.5 mm fragment, fine. But then you must explain how S&O could have learned about this fragment except from the prosectors. Since they could have only learned of the fragment's existence from the pathologists, how, then, can you suggest that those same pathologists, along with Ebersole, believed the fragment was in the right frontal area as a result of misreading the AP x-ray?
LGT: Again, reread the note and see above.
REPLY: I've reread the note, and all I see is a desperate attempt to avoid the simple, compelling implication from the evidence that the 6.5 mm fragment is clear evidence of fraud in the autopsy materials. You still haven't explained how you can view the S&O reference to a fragment in the rear of the skull as a reference to the 6.5 mm fragment if you accept that S&O could have only learned of that fragment from the autopsy pathologists. You can't have it both ways. You can't say the pathologists "mislocated" the fragment's location and that they thought it was a frontal fragment and then turn around and say they told Sibert and O'Neill about the fragment in the back of the skull.
LGT: You wrote:
“2. If the S&O reference to a back-of-the-head fragment refers to the 6.5 mm fragment, and if this fragment was present at the autopsy, and if S&O learned about it from the pathologists (which was the only way they could have learned of it), why wasn't the fragment removed? There is no doubt whatsoever the pathologists were looking for retrievable fragments, and the 6.5 mm fragment, which was supposedly located on the outer table of the skull, would have been easily recovered. Why, then, wasn't it retrieved?”
Why should they have retrieved it, necessarily? From their comments, they were searching for a bullet or fragment that could be used as evidence, presumably something with rifling on it that could be matched to the gun. They searched the area where they thought the largest fragment was located. After they removed two pieces of metal there, and these showed no rifling, maybe they saw no need to remove still more small pieces. What would be the point?
REPLY: "Why should they have retrieved it, necessarily?" Maybe because one of their expressed, vital tasks was to retrieve any and all sizable missile fragments! Maybe because they were doing the autopsy of the President of the United States who had just been murdered. Maybe because, as Kellerman confirmed, they were looking for any and all bullet fragments that they could find. (Of course, Kellerman's mention of this isn't needed, since there is no dispute that the pathologists were looking for any and all recoverable bullet fragments.) Humes, moreover, indicated they recovered all of the sizable fragments that were there to be found. Let me say that again: Dr. Humes testified that they recovered all of the bullet sizable fragments from the skull, and he said not one word about any fragment in the back of the skull.
But, no, you say, since the first two fragments they recovered "showed no rifling," the autopsists just said, "Oh, what the heck, this big fragment in the back of the skull probably won't have any rifling on it, either, so let's just leave it there!" When you're committed to seeing the emperor's clothes, this is the kind of farfetched speculation you must employ. One would think that the alleged failure of the pathologists to find "rifling" on the frontal fragments would have made them all the more anxious to retrieve the back-of-the-head fragment in the hope that it might show such rifling. And rifling would not be the only potential value of a fragment, I might add. Another reason they were looking for fragments was so they could be analyzed spectrographically to determine if they came from the same missile or type of missile.
LGT: You seem to think that the doctors would've had to realize that this particular piece of metal was important.
REPLY: So you're saying that the pathologists would not have recognized the
largest or second largest fragment on the x-rays as "important"?
Incredible! They were doing the autopsy on the President of the
LGT: In my opinion, the 6.5 mm fragment didn't assume any importance to anyone until it was noted by the Clark Panel and then seized upon as a "suspicious discrepancy." The theories offered to explain this discrepancy are much more complicated and improbable than Artwohl's, since they involve massive lying and fakery, while Artwohl's assumes only human error, which is common.
REPLY: So nobody realized the 6.5 mm fragment was important until it was noted by the Clark Panel?! Again, you're saying that on the night of autopsy, with the recovery of any sizable fragments being a crucial duty, the autopsy doctors would not have viewed this fragment as important (assuming it was there, of course). This argument is simply nonsensical. The pathologists most certainly would have viewed this fragment as important.
Artwohl's theory ignores most of the evidence and offers only tenuous speculation to explain away the conflicts in question. The alternate theories offered by critics, on the other hand, explain all of the conflicts and address all of the evidence.
LGT: You asked,
“3. How could the prosectors and Ebersole have misread the fragment's location on the lateral x-ray? (Can anyone really believe that three pathologists and a radiologist could, on a lateral x-ray, misread a fragment in the back of the head as being near the right eye?)”
You're not getting it. They had to find the fragments seen in the AP on the lateral x-ray. Please compare the two x-rays and tell me, where are the 6.5 mm and the "Florida-shaped" fragments in the lateral view? They don't look the same as they do on the AP, do they?
REPLY: LGT, please stop ignoring the fact that pathologists handled the wounds; they had the head in front of them; they carefully examined the rear head entrance wound; they retrieved the two frontal fragments which they saw on the x-rays; and they said nothing about any fragment in the back of the head. If they had seen the large 6.5 fragment, they would have retrieved it. They would have easily spotted the fragment on the lateral x-ray (especially before that radiograph acquired the huge white patch that now appears over the rear part of the head), and if this fragment had really been on the outer table of the skull, they would have seen it when they reflected back the scalp.
Of course the lateral and AP views would have been different! You seem to be implying that the pathologists and Ebersole didn't understand this basic point. And they could have seen, easily and readily, that there was a large fragment in the "somewhere" in the area of the back of the head, and they then certainly would have retrieved it. But Humes said the two fragments he recovered were the only sizable fragment that were there to be retrieved, and neither he nor the other pathologists said a single word about any sizable fragment in the back of the head. You need to come to grips with these facts.
LGT: You said,
“4. What about the fact that the pathologists removed the two sizable fragments that were near the right eye?”
What about it? They removed two fragments. You think the 6.5 fragment is important. I see no reason to believe that *they* thought so on the night of the autopsy.
REPLY: So you see no reason to think that the pathologists would have viewed the 6.5 mm fragment as important on the night of the autopsy? Again, this desperate argument needs no further comment. It is its own refutation.
LGT: You said,
“5. What about the fact that the pathologists closely examined the area around the rear head entry wound, to include reflecting back the scalp and examining the skull bone around the wound? Specifically, how could they have missed the 6.5 mm fragment, which was supposedly embedded in the outer table of the skull just below the entry wound?”
I don't know that they did "miss" it when they examined the skull. Or, they may not have noticed it for several possible reasons. The fragment was apparently very thin--I believe someone on a medical panel described it as a "smear of lead." If it was "embedded," maybe it wasn't noticeable from either.
REPLY: The contrast in color between this "smear" and the skull would have been obvious; and, again, they could not have missed this fragment on the lateral x-ray. In addition, this brings us right back to the fact that they would have known about this fragment from the lateral x-rays. They would have already known there was a fragment back there. We know they knew there was a back-of-the-head fragment because of the S&O report. They told S&O about it, and S&O duly noted it.
You keep going around in a circle of evasion and contradiction. At first, you appeared to deny that the pathologists even noticed the 6.5 mm fragment at all. Then, apparently realizing that this position was untenable, you halfheartedly acknowledged that they noticed it, but then you floated the truly amazing idea that they didn't think it was important and saw no need to retrieve it, in spite of the fact that recovering bullets was one of their most important stated aims in doing the autopsy, and in spite of the fact that Humes said they recovered all of the sizable fragments that were there to be retrieved, and in spite of the fact that the pathologists and Ebersole didn't say a word about any sizable fragment in the back of the head. Now, you're back to suggesting the pathologists simply "missed" the fragment (because, you speculate, it wasn't noticeable), not only when they examined the skull hands-on, but also when they studied the lateral x-ray!
Your arguments are getting more and more strained, as you seek to avoid the plain implications of the 6.5 mm fragment. The following statement warrants particular attention:
If they "would have easily spotted" them on the lateral x-ray, please point out where you see them on the lateral x-ray. Unless you try to locate them yourself, you'll never understand the problem.
One, the pathologists retrieved the large fragment that they saw in the frontal area from the frontal area. Humes said the 7 x 2 mm fragment was visible on the x-rays as being in the right frontal region (specifically, behind the right orbit), and he then explored that area and found and retrieved this fragment (2 H 353). So there was zero confusion about the 7 x 2 mm fragment's location. They saw it on the x-rays, they explored the area where the x-rays showed it, and they found and retrieved it. There was no confusion. They did not "confuse" this fragment with the 6.5 mm fragment, or vice-versa. And when they explored the right frontal area to retrieve the 7 x 2 mm fragment, they also found and retrieved the 3 x 1 mm fragment (2 H 354). You keep ignoring these facts, which destroy your theory.
Are you suggesting that the pathologists and Ebersole would have had some difficulty spotting and locating the 6.5 mm fragment on the lateral x-ray? If they had problems reading the lateral x- ray, it is odd that they said nothing about this in the autopsy report, nor in their testimony. In your previous message you made the argument that the AP x-ray would have caused them to be confused about the 6.5 mm fragment's location. But they would have seen from the lateral x-ray that the fragment was at least "somewhere" in the rear of the head. Certainly they would have understood that the fragment's front-to-back location on the skull might not be clear from the AP view, so naturally they would have examined the lateral view and would have seen that the fragment was located in the rear of the skull. Dr. Mantik had no trouble discerning the 6.5 mm. fragment on the lateral x-ray (Livingstone, Killing Kennedy, pp. 87-90). The HSCA didn't seem to have any trouble doing so either:
(FIGURE 18.--Photograph of the lateral X-ray of the skull (autopsy X-ray No.2), showing the occipital defect with beveling and adjacent missile fragment. (7 HSCA 110)
Not one of the radiologists whom the HSCA consulted mentioned having any trouble seeing the 6.5 mm fragment on the lateral x-ray, nor did any of them mention being unable to at least discern the fragment's general location from the lateral view. Dr. Lattimer said "the x-rays" revealed 35 bullet fragments and that "the largest was a 6.5 mm rounded fragment stuck on the sharp margin of the bone at the wound of entry into the back of the skull" (Resident Staff and Physician, May 1972, p. 56). Not a word, not a hint, from Dr. Lattimer that he could not at least discern the 6.5 mm fragment's general location from the lateral view. And, again, if the back of the head on the lateral x-ray was obscured or unreadable, one would think the pathologists would have noted this in the autopsy report or in their testimony.
Moreover, you cannot suggest that the pathologists didn't know the 6.5 mm fragment was in the back of the skull because you also opine that it was they who told Sibert and O'Neill about the fragment in the rear of the skull mentioned in S&O's report. If the pathologists didn't tell Sibert and O'Neill about this fragment, who did? But if the pathologists did tell S&O about it, why didn't they say anything about it in the autopsy report or in their testimony? And why didn't they retrieve this fragment?
Unless you're willing to assume foul play was involved, it is pointless to suggest that the pathologists didn't know where the 6.5 mm fragment was located in light of the fact that Sibert and O'Neill reported, presumably based on what the pathologists told them, that "the next largest fragment appeared to be at the rear of the skull." It is equally pointless to argue that the pathologists somehow confused the 6.5 mm fragment with the 7 x 2 mm fragment.
Furthermore, if this fragment had been on the "outer table of the skull," the pathologists certainly would have run across it since they explored that area carefully. As five doctors pointed out to JAMA, Humes and Boswell said they examined this area carefully. The doctors continued,
Could a fragment so large and so easily retrievable, and so important evidentially, have been ignored by three pathologists? (Livingstone, Killing the Truth, p. 630, emphasis added)
No, if you assume the 6.5 mm fragment was present on the skull at the autopsy, then you must believe the pathologists saw it, that they knew it was there. But then you must explain why they didn't retrieve it and why they said nothing about it. Your suggestion that they would not have viewed the fragment as important is ludicrous. They most certainly, and quite properly, would have viewed it as very important. They were seeking to retrieve any and all sizable fragments. If they had seen it, as they surely would have, they would have retrieved it. They would have had no trouble discerning that it was in the rear of the skull, and it would have been easy to recover, as several doctors pointed out to JAMA. Unless, (1) there was something about the fragment that made them not want to retrieve it, and made them not want to describe its precise location (or that caused someone else to order them not to retrieve it and to remain silent about it), or (2) it wasn't there on the night of the autopsy.
LGT: You wrote,
“The 6.5 mm fragment is the largest fragment on the extant x-rays. Humes said the largest fragment was in the frontal area, and he retrieved this fragment.”
Exactly the point! He thought the 6.5 was in the frontal area, so he searched for it there. If he thought he had retrieved the "largest" fragment, why should he mention a "smaller" fragment in the back of the head that he didn't retrieve?
REPLY: So Humes couldn't tell from the x-rays that the 6.5 mm fragment was at least somewhere in the rear of the skull? And the other pathologists couldn't either? And Ebersole—he "missed" this fact as well? I've already dealt with this silly, untenable argument. Furthermore, the large frontal fragment that Humes retrieved was the 7 x 2 mm fragment, so your theory won't work anyway, even assuming the pathologists and Ebersole "mislocated" the 6.5 mm fragment on the x-rays.
Why did Humes mention the tiny fragment that he found in the frontal area, the 3 x 1 mm one, but not the much larger 6.5 mm fragment? Why did he mention the numerous fragment particles, but not the much, much, much larger 6.5 mm fragment?
How could Humes have missed the 6.5 mm fragment if it was, as later claimed, on the outer table of the skull? He, along with the other doctors, would have had to be blind not to notice it--and, bear in mind, they inspected the area of the entrance wound very carefully.
Why did Sibert and O'Neill say the rear-of-head fragment was the second largest ("the next largest fragment")? How do you square this with the fact that the 6.5 mm fragment is the largest fragment on the x-rays in evidence? If you assume S&O's statement was in reference to the 6.5 mm fragment, as you must, then the only way S&O could have learned of this fragment was from the autopsy pathologists, and therefore there's no way Humes could have thought the frontal fragment, which he recovered, was the 6.5 mm fragment. What's more, if the pathologists had known about the 6.5 mm fragment, they most certainly would have removed it--unless, of course, they weren't allowed to do so and were then forbidden to mention it.
And why didn't Humes retrieve the 6.5 mm fragment since he retrieved the much smaller 3 x 1 mm fragment? If he had seen it, he most certainly would have retrieved it.
You keep avoiding some central facts that refute your shifting, strained explanations:
1. The pathologists had the skull in front of them. If the fragment had been where it supposedly was located, they could not have helped but see it. It would have been easy to retrieve.
2. The pathologists, along with Ebersole, at least would have been able to see from the lateral x-rays that the 6.5 mm fragment was in the general area of the back of the head, and not clear in the right frontal area.
3. Assuming the S&O reference was not added later, S&O could have only learned about the fragment from the pathologists (or from an intermediary who in turn had been told about it by the pathologists). Thus, if you assume S&O were referring to the 6.5 mm fragment, you must believe that the pathologists knew of its existence and, of course, of its location in the back of the head. But if the pathologists had known about the 6.5 mm fragment, they most certainly would have retrieve it and would have mentioned it in their reports and in their testimony.
LGT: You said,
“’Why should they have retrieved it, necessarily?’ Maybe because one of their expressed vital tasks was to retrieve any and all sizable missile fragments!”
And how do you define sizable? They were looking for bullets or fragments that could be used as evidence.
REPLY: Again, Humes said the 7 x 2 mm fragment was "rather sizable," so the 6.5 mm fragment, which is the largest on the x-rays in evidence, would have appeared even more "sizable."
Anyway, your line of argumentation here is illogical because Humes removed the 3 x 1 mm fragment. Thus, he certainly would have removed the much larger 6.5 mm fragment if he had seen it. If nothing else, he would have at least tried to do so, and definitely would have mentioned it in his report and in his testimony, just as he mentioned the much smaller 3 x 1 mm fragment, and just as he mentioned the microscopic fragment particles. But not a word, not a single word, from any of the pathologists, nor from Ebersole, about any sizable fragment anywhere in the back of the head. Either it wasn't on the skull (and hence wasn't on the radiographs) on the night of the autopsy or the pathologists were ordered not to say anything about it.
LGT: If they thought the largest one was in the front, why would they expect a smaller one to show any rifling? This fragment was so thin it was called a "smear," remember?
REPLY: But this doesn't change the fact that the lateral x-rays would have at least shown the 6.5 mm fragment to be "somewhere" in the back of the head, and not clear up in the right frontal region. Nor does this change the fact that Humes and the other pathologists surely would have at least mentioned the 6.5 mm fragment if they had seen it--again, unless they were ordered not to do so. And certainly they would have at least tried to retrieve the 6.5 mm fragment if they had seen it on the x-rays or on the outer table of the skull.
It is readily apparent that you have no plausible explanation for the evidence concerning the 6.5 mm fragment. The 6.5 mm fragment is clear, compelling evidence of fraud in the autopsy materials.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael T. Griffith holds a Master’s degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from American Military University, a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force. He also holds an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War Studies from Carroll College. He is a graduate in Arabic and Hebrew of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas. In addition, he has completed Advanced Hebrew programs at Haifa University in Israel and at the Spiro Institute in London, England. He is the author of five books on Mormonism and ancient texts, including How Firm A Foundation, A Ready Reply, and One Lord, One Faith. He is also the author of a book on the JFK assassination titled Compelling Evidence (JFK Lancer, 1996).