New doc­u­ments won’t quell JFK con­spir­a­cies

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Opinion - STEVE HANSEN Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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.

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