Electronic Assassinations Newsletter
250RANDOLPH H. ROBERTSON M.D.
December 27, 1993
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Chairman
Legislation and National Security Subcommittee
Comittee on Government Operations
House of Representatives
Congress of the United States
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6143
Attention: James Turner, Esquire
Dear Congressman Conyers:
It was an honor to testify before the Legislation and National Security Subcommittee on November 17th and I want to thank you for the opportunity. As you requested during my testimony, I am sending you a copy of my revised manuscript on the evidence for two gunshot wounds to the late President Kennedy's head. I have incorporated in my manuscript many of the interviews with the autopsy eyewitnesses which have been released through P.L. 102-526. The paper is somewhat technical in nature, but I hope you will find it of some use.
I want to include in this letter some of the aspects of the case which I do not elaborate on fully in my manuscript. I have already pointed out the remarkable coincidence of the pencil lines on the x-rays matching the trajectory lines present on CE 388. Previous to the recent release of documents under the JFK Records Act, I was somewhat intrigued by Dr. Baden's relating in HSCA volume VII that Dr. Ebersole had told him that these lines were drawn for "anthropomorphic" measurements for a bust of Kennedy that was never made. I know of no anthropomorphic measurements that might relate to these lines. Having now read Dr. Ebersole's testimony, I am even more skeptical. In his recently released testimony he said that one of the critical measurements was from the occipital bone to the area of exit for the bullet in the right front of the skull. This in my mind defines the term "trajectory". On November 1, 1966 Dr. Ebersole examined the x-rays at the National Archives and in this report he described "A right lateral view of the skull on 8 x 10" film with two angle lines overdrawn on the film, the film bearing the x-ray number 21296". Seeing how the angle lines on the x - rays and those on CE 388 match, I am confident that they were intended to describe the trajectory. I note that Dr. Ebersole relates that a member of the HSCA medical panel observed to him that the pencil lines possibly represented a trajectory. Unfortunately that member was not identified and the record does not reflect whether he was dissuaded by Dr. Ebersole's anthropomorphic measurement story.
In testimony before the subcomittee, I stated that there were six eyewitnesses to the autopsy who have told HSCA and other governmental investigative bodies that a bullet entered low near the hairline as seen in the autopsy photographs. After further research, I now place this number at eleven. It is inconceivable to me that this many eyewitnesses, including the pathologists who handled the skull and scalp, could all make a mistake of the magnitude suggested by the HSCA medical review panel. My careful analysis of the numerous eyewitness accounts paints a multifaceted, coherent anatomical and morphological picture of the entrance wound in the back of the head which is entirely inconsistent with that proposed by previous review panels. The fact that the autopsy pathologists say that the entrance crater was visible in the bone attached to the body after the skull cap and brain had been removed is quite convincing. It would be impossible to remove the brain without also removing the bone that contains the HSCA's purported entrance crater.
The medical evidence in this case is quite complex and difficult to assimilate initially. It was only after a careful and thorough review of the radiographs, photographs, and eyewitess testimonies, that I was able to resolve the conflicts and apparent paradoxes in the case. What we have is one group of doctors, the autopsy pathologists, who used their visual location of the wound and the presence of internal beveling to determine the point of entry and totally disregarded the radiographic evidence for a second gunshot wound to the head. Subsequent review panels have found the obvious radiographic evidence for the second gunshot wound to the head, but have ignored or not appreciated the subtle radiographic evidence that allows you to confirm that the first bullet did enter low in the back of the head. The subsequent review panels have only found the evidence for the second bullet impact and have reached the dubious conclusion that so many eyewitnesses could be and were mistaken by such a large error in locating the entrance wound in the back of the head. An error or this magnitude should not have been attributed to simple human error. The previous conclusions of the Clark Panel and the Rockefeller Commission may have biased the HSCA medical review panel members' thoughts about the case, just as I was initially biased by these reports.
My diagnosis explains many of the apparent paradoxes in the case and is a natural extension of the final conclusions of the HSCA. As you know, the HSCA concluded that there was a probable conspiracy and that a shot was fired from the right front of the motorcade. A correct evaluation of the medical evidence by the medical review panel would have allowed the HSCA to conclude that the shot they say was fired from the right front did indeed find its mark and was responsible for the backwards snap of the President's head. The original autopsy team did not err by four inches in locating the wound, but they did err in ignoring the evidence for a second gunshot wound to the head. I might add that documents released do have eyewitnesses saying that this possibility was discussed at the autopsy table the night of the autopsy.
The release of the JFK Records Collection was an honorable move by the Congress which has allowed these materials to be evaluated by researchers such as me. I hope that it achieves its intent of ending the baseless
speculations which government secrecy has fueled in part. Our national institutions must respond to the revelations that the release of these files will bring. I do not believe that the government should respond to the wild, speculative and improbable conspiracy theories that have flourished in the past. However, I would hope that carefully researched, thoroughly documented works such as my own, which are based upon the known facts and sound principles of scientific thought and logic, would receive a thorough evaluation.
My attempts at publishing the scientific proof for two gunshot wounds to the head in the peer reviewed medical literature have been unsucessful to date. I have found this process to be disappointing, but I am not deterred. I am making every effort I can to bring this material forward in the most responsible manner I can. The lack of success to date can be directly attributable to the fact that in each instance my paper was presented to biased peer reviewers.
As you already know, my article was denied publication in Radiology. I am enclosing a copy of the critique of my article by Radiology's reviewer. In his review he reveals that he was a radiological consultant for the HSCA. It is highly unlikely that a reviewer with such a conflict of interest would admit an error in his previous interpretation of these radiographs. A proper interpretation on his part in the first place would have allowed the HSCA to come to a more correct conclusion in regards to the shot that was fired from the right front of the motorcade.
My article was also sent to JAMA which also denied publication. Once again my paper was presented to a biased peer reviewer. If Dr. Robert Artwohl had not sent me the enclosed letter, I would never have had proof that this was the case. For some unknown reason Dr. Lundberg, the editor of JAMA, assigned Dr. Artwohl to peer review my paper. As far as I know, Dr. Artwohl is not board certified in any subspecialty and is definitely not a radiologist. Dr. Artwohl has previously published articles in JAMA which dispute the HSCA's conclusions and he participated with Dr. Lundberg in debating the medical evidence in this case against critics of the autopspy findings. The assignment of my paper to such a biased peer review must have been designed to prevent its acceptance for publication. I find it highly ironic that JAMA should reject an article which provides scientific proof that the autopsy pathologists were correct in their location of the entry wound in the head. It was JAMA that in the previous year had published a series of articles defending the accuracy of the autopsy team's findings. In the next year I hope to present my article to another peer reviewed journal that hopefully will be unbiased and provide an honest evaluation of my findings.
I would also like to briefly address the comments made by Mr. Posner during my testimony, He stated, without substantiation, that the autopsy doctors had changed their minds with respect to the location of the hole of entry low in the back of the head. In the past, Dr. Boswell has consistently placed the wound of entry low in the back of the head, as has Dr. Finck, on the following occasions: autopsy report and notes, 1967 DOJ review, HSCA testimony and recent JAMA articles published within months of Mr. Posner's interview with Dr. Humes.
Dr. Finck has never changed his position on the low entry point. On one occasion Dr. Humes gave somewhat ambiguous and contradictory statements to the HSCA about the entry as it appeared on the photogaphs. A careful reading of his testimony could well lead one to believe that he has never changed his mind as to where the bullet entered the skull. Dr. Humes has placed the wound of entry low on the following occasions: autopsy report and notes, 1966 Inspection of Autopsy Materials, 1967 DOJ review, 1967 CBS interview, HSCA testimony as well as outside contact reports, and recent JAMA articles. Thus I was skeptical of Mr. Posner's statement to the subcommitte that the autopsy doctors had changed their minds, I have included a note made by HSCA investigator Mark Flanagan which directly addresses this issue on the part of Dr. Boswell. More recently in JAMA articles all the autopsy pathologists have reaffirmed the accuracy of CE 388 which, by he way, has the trajectory lines matched by those on the x - rays.
Given the gravity of such a possible change in their opinions, I am surprised that this was not included in Mr. Posner's book "Case Closed". If the autopsy doctors have truly changed their opinions after 30 years I think the public should know. It is possible that Mr. Posner has an inaccurate recollection of these interviews. I would hope that he would not knowingly make false statements to members of a Congressional subcommittee. I am confident that this point can be resolved by Mr. Posner donating the tapes of these interviews with both Drs. Humes and Boswell to the National Archives as Mr. James Lesar suggested during the testimony. Until the time he does so, I will be quite perplexed as to why the autopsy doctors told JAMA that the autopsy illustrations were very accurate and yet only months later, if Mr. Posner's statements to the subcommittee are to be believed, they told him completely the opposite.
I hope that the enclosed article will provide you with more details as to the evidence that proves that President Kennedy was struck in the head by a shot from the front. If you desire, I would be happy to provide a visual demonstration of my findings and respond to any specific questions that might be raised by you or other interested members of Congress.
Randolph H. Robertson, M.D.