New documents won’t quell JFK conspiracies
After 54 years, the game goes on.
There must be something in those recently released documents, redacted at the request of various governmental agencies, that “prove” John F. Kennedy’s assassination was a sinister conspiracy. It must have been perpetrated by the Cubans, the CIA, the Mafia, the Russians, Vice President Johnson, the French Connection, planet Xaetar aliens, or you name it.
As many of my readers know, My father, Dr. L.S. Hansen, during the early 1960s was a department chief at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and an executive officer at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Both of these agencies were directly involved in the autopsy of President Kennedy.
Dad also was an associate professor at the George Washington School of Medicine and later became vice chair of forensic medicine at the University of California San Francisco.
While he was not a member of the autopsy team, Dad certainly knew those who were. His colleagues were Drs. J. Thornton Boswell, James J. Humes and Pierre A. Finck. Boswell and Humes carried out the procedures, while Finck acted as an advisor.
At the time, Dr. Finck was chief of wound ballistics pathology at the AFIP. He was considered the world’s leading expert in this field.
The following is a historical synopsis of events following the assassination:
Within days, President Lyndon Johnson formed the Warren Commissions in hopes of quelling any rumors of conspiracies. In 1964, the Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone. Of course these findings did nothing to dampen rumors and accusations of conspiratorial involvement.
In 1969, controversial New Orleans prosecutor James Garrison charged businessman Clay Shaw in an alleged conspiracy, accusing him of being part of a Kennedy assassination plot. However, evidence was so defective and witnesses so flawed that Shaw was found not guilty by a jury in less than an hour.
Due to public pressure based on unfounded rumors and reports, Congress got into the act in 1976-79 with the House Select Committee on Assassinations. They reviewed the second shooter theory from the so-called “grassy knoll” and the fourshot conjecture based on a motorcycle patrolman’s open microphone.
The Committee concluded that because of these two factors, the possibility of another assassin existed. However in the 1990s, both of these theories were clearly debunked with the use of modern technology.
Even Hollywood got into the act. Perhaps the most famous was Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie, “JFK.” The film used “creative license” by making Garrison a hero and inserting fantasized “facts” about the case not found in evidence. Incredibly, most people today still believe this version of events was accurate.
Another was a 1990s British-made “documentary” aired on the Arts and Entertainment Network. It claimed that the president’s murder was, of all things, carried out by hired French assassins.
Despite my own doubts based on various media stories over the years, my father never seriously wavered from the findings of his professional colleagues and the Warren Commission. At the time of his death in 1993, nothing was found in his personal papers to indicate otherwise. Almost all other medical personnel involved in the initial investigation are now deceased as well.
Today, The National Naval Medical Center has become the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, a world-leading diagnostic center and medical museum, was closed 2011 due to an unfortunate, as well as an extremely foolish governmental cost-saving measure.
For those interested in more detail on the Kennedy assassination, former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s extensively researched book titled “Reclaiming History,” provides an excellent account of the entire saga and aftermath of one of history’s most chilling events.
As a final note on the subject, when government agencies hold back or redact classified documents, it’s usually to cover up their own faux pas, protect the integrity of friendly foreign leaders, or to maintain the secrecy of methodology and sources. It’s highly unlikely that any future Kennedy assassination document releases will change anything.