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Altered History: The FFF Video Project on the Autopsy of John F. Kennedy


This week The Future of Freedom Foundation launches a video presentation entitled “Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence,” by Douglas P. Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in the 1990s and later authored a five-volume book on the assassination of John F. Kennedy entitled Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK.

Evolving out of the serious problems with the medical evidence first raised in David Lifton’s best-selling 1981 book on the Kennedy assassination, Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Horne’s thesis is a straightforward one: Kennedy was not shot by a lone nut from the rear, but rather by shooters firing from multiple directions, including the front of the president. To cover up that fact, the national-security establishment of the federal government conducted a false and deceptive autopsy on the president’s body; created an intentionally misleading set of autopsy photographs and skull X-rays; and then issued a fraudulent autopsy report that concealed evidence of shots having been fired from Kennedy’s front, e.g., from the “grassy knoll” (and very likely elsewhere) in Dealey Plaza. The suppression of evidence of shots having been fired from somewhere in front of the president’s limousine allowed the federal government to sell the official cover story — of a lone malcontent shooting the president from above and behind — to the American people.

Before going to work for the ARRB, Horne was aware that there were several key questions that remained unanswered.

First: Was the principal problem with the Kennedy autopsy simply the incompetence of the autopsy pathologists, as claimed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in the late 1970s?

Second: What was the cause of the major discrepancies between Kennedy’s wounds as seen at Parkland Hospital and at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda later that evening?

Third: If someone did tamper with Kennedy’s wounds before the commencement of his official autopsy at 8:00 p.m., who did it, and when, where, and why?

Thus, when he went to work for the Assassination Records Review Board, Horne took a special interest in the evidence surrounding Kennedy’s autopsy, which is why his five-volume book revolves mostly around the medical evidence.

Altered History is not a short video presentation. It consists of five parts totaling almost six and one-half hours. Each segment is going to be posted on FFF’s website over the next several days, with the final part being posted on September 24, which will be the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Warren Report, the official report that posited that Kennedy was killed by a lone-nut communist sympathizer named Lee Harvey Oswald.

In my opinion, anyone who takes the time to watch this video presentation by Horne cannot help but arrive at only one conclusion: On the night of November 22, 1963, U.S. military officials at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland conducted a false and fraudulent autopsy designed to cover up evidence of shots having been fired from Kennedy’s front.

Preventing the autopsy in Dallas

Under Texas law in 1963, Texas state officials were required to conduct autopsies in homicide cases. Under the law, it wasn’t a discretionary duty. It was a legal requirement.

After Kennedy was pronounced dead, the Dallas County coroner, Dr. Earl Rose, announced his intention to conduct an autopsy on Kennedy’s body. At that point, however, one of the most extraordinary events in the history of U.S. criminal justice took place. A team of Secret Service agents informed Rose that he would not be permitted to conduct the autopsy and that the Secret Service team was going to remove Kennedy’s body from Parkland Hospital and return it to Washington, D.C.

Rose refused to permit the body to be removed from Parkland Hospital, reminding the Secret Service team that Texas law mandated the autopsy.

At that point, members of the Secret Service team began screaming, yelling, and cursing, and proceeded to forcibly remove the president’s casket from Parkland Hospital. Some of them even pulled back their coat jackets to reveal their weapons to Rose and anyone else who might resist them.

Now just think about that for a moment: Secret Service agents implicitly threatened to kill a physician who was just doing his job and following the law and anyone else who interfered with their forcible (and illegal) removal of the president’s body from Parkland Hospital.

It is incredible. When have you ever heard of such a thing’s happening, either before November 1963 or since? Law-enforcement officials work together to solve crimes. Moreover, at the time of that violent altercation at Parkland Hospital, those Secret Service agents had to understand that an accurate autopsy would be a necessary part of any criminal prosecution against anyone accused of having killed the president. Wouldn’t you think that that Secret Service team would ordinarily say, “Of course, Dr. Rose. We understand. Please proceed to conduct the autopsy and we will wait”?

Why would that Secret Service team engage in what can only be considered extremely bizarre behavior?

There can be only one rational explanation: The team had to have been under orders to get Kennedy’s body out of Parkland at all costs without an autopsy, even if that meant threatening and possibly even using deadly force against anyone who got in their way. It is simply inconceivable that Secret Service agents would have engaged in that sort of conduct on their own initiative and without having been ordered to do so.

Who would have issued such an order? The most likely person: the new president himself, Lyndon B. Johnson.

In fact, guess who was waiting at Dallas Love Field for the president’s body. Lyndon Johnson himself. The Secret Service was removing seats from the back of Air Force One to make room for Kennedy’s casket.

Of course, that wasn’t Johnson’s explanation for why he was waiting there on the tarmac. He had a dual explanation for waiting, which, on close examination, doesn’t hold water.

First, he said he needed to be formally sworn in as president and, therefore, was waiting for a federal judge to arrive to conduct the swearing-in. He claimed that the attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, had advised him that a swearing-in was necessary, a claim later denied by Kennedy.

The fact was that under the Constitution, as Robert Kennedy said he actually told Johnson, Johnson became president automatically on John Kennedy’s death, without the necessity of a formal swearing-in.

Second, Johnson said that he needed to wait for Jacqueline Kennedy, who, it is no surprise, insisted on staying with her husband’s body, so that Johnson, out of sense of chivalry, could accompany her back to Washington.

Unfortunately for Johnson, however, the circumstantial evidence belies his claim of chivalry.

If it was chivalry he was concerned about, even after waiting for Mrs. Kennedy he could have returned to Washington on Air Force Two, which was a near duplicate of Air Force One, thereby leaving Air Force One for the grieving widow and her party. That’s not what Johnson did. Unbeknownst to Mrs. Kennedy, when Johnson arrived at Love Field after leaving the hospital, he and his entourage took over and boarded Air Force One, which was the plane in which President and Mrs. Kennedy had traveled. Johnson and his people even took the time to transfer their luggage from Air Force Two to Air Force One, notwithstanding the fact that both planes would be taking off and arriving within 30 minutes of each other.

When Mrs. Kennedy boarded Air Force One and proceeded to her bedroom, guess whom this grieving widow, who had just lost her husband in a violent shooting that she had personally witnessed, found lying on her bed in Air Force One. You guessed it! Mr. Chivalry, Lyndon Johnson.

When the swearing-in began, there was absolutely no reason that Jacqueline Kennedy had to be at the ceremony. She was now the widow of a deceased president. There is nothing in the Constitution that required that she be a witness to Johnson’s swearing-in. Rather than simply leave her alone to grieve the loss of her husband, Johnson insisted that she come out of her bedroom and witness his swearing-in. Some chivalry.

One of the fascinating — and also revealing — aspects of Johnson’s delay in leaving Dallas was that he himself, at Parkland Hospital, had raised the possibility that the assassination might be the first step in a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union on the United States. Keep in mind, after all, that Johnson could have flown out of Dallas on Air Force Two (or Air Force One) the minute he arrived at Dallas Love Field. The fact that he was willing to take the time to get sworn in and to wait for Mrs. Kennedy (and her husband’s body) constitutes powerful circumstantial evidence that he knew, as a certainty, that the Soviets had had nothing to do with the assassination.

The military autopsy on Kennedy’s body

Upon Johnson’s return to Washington, the president’s body was delivered into the custody of the U.S. military at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Why the military? After all, the United States wasn’t supposed to be a military nation, like some “banana republic.” And the president certainly wasn’t killed on the battlefield during wartime. Why not have a civilian coroner conduct the autopsy?

There can only be one reasonable explanation: By placing the autopsy under the control of the national-security establishment, whatever was done could be kept top-secret for decades under the doctrine of “national security.” After all, every soldier is inculcated with the importance and necessity of taking classified secrets to the grave with him, especially those supposedly relating to “national security.” It is no surprise that the military personnel who participated in the Kennedy autopsy were required to sign secrecy oaths in which they promised never to reveal what they had seen.

In fact, the official secrecy that surrounded the autopsy and the investigation of the Kennedy assassination has never really made any sense, except to serve as a cover-up of what was going on secretly and surreptitiously. If the assassination was, in fact, carried out by a lone nut who just coincidentally happened to be working in a building that enabled him to shoot the president, without any motive I might add, why in the world would that trigger the nebulous concept of “national security” and decades of secrecy, which persists even to this day on the part of the CIA?

Problems with false stories

One of the fascinating aspects to a false story that has been concocted by a number of people is that it is extremely difficult for the participants to keep the details of their story consistent with each other. They can get on the same page with respect to the basic parameters of the story but are often crossed up when talking about the details. That’s why courts oftentimes exclude witnesses from a courtroom when other witnesses are testifying — to ensure that people are telling the truth rather than keeping a false story intact.

Consider just one example of this principle from Kennedy’s autopsy:

It is undisputed that Kennedy’s body was brought into the Bethesda morgue at 8 p.m. by a military honor guard. That’s the official time of the body’s arrival under the official story of the autopsy.

Dr. Pierre Finck, who was one of the three autopsy pathologists, stated that Dr. James J. Humes, another of the three autopsy pathologists, had telephoned Finck at 8 p.m. on the night of November 22 to request his assistance with the autopsy. During that telephone conversation, Finck said that Humes told him that X-rays had already been taken of the president’s skull and developed. (See the February 1, 1965, report entitled “The Autopsy of President Kennedy” from Finck to his superior, Brig. Gen. Joseph Blumberg of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and Finck’s sworn testimony before the House  Select Committee on Assassinations Medical Panel in 1978.)

Now ask yourself this rather important question: How could X-rays have already been taken of Kennedy’s skull and developed by 8 p.m., which is what Humes said to Finck, if the body wasn’t brought into the morgue until 8 p.m.?

It’s just not possible. The only way that X-rays could already have been taken of the president’s body and developed by 8 p.m. was for the body to have already been inside the morgue before 8 p.m.

And that is precisely one thesis that Doug Horne develops in his video presentation — that the president’s body was secretly introduced into the Bethesda morgue before 8 p.m. to do what was necessary to remove evidence of shots having been fired from Kennedy’s front, before formally reintroducing the body into the morgue under the auspices of the military honor guard at the official time of 8 p.m.

Indeed, Finck wasn’t the only autopsy physician who couldn’t keep the details straight. Humes told the Warren Commission that the president’s body was actually received at the morgue at 7:35 p.m., which, of course, would mean that his story would then be consistent with that of Finck — that is, that he had 25 minutes to conduct X-rays and develop them before telephoning Finck at 8 p.m. and advising him that skull X-rays had already been taken and developed.

Question: How could the body have been received into the morgue at 7:35 p.m. when everyone agrees that it was brought into the morgue at 8 p.m. by the official honor guard? Remember: The official story is that the body was formally brought into the morgue at 8 p.m. That official time of arrival is not in dispute.

Actually, as Horne details in his video presentation, the overwhelming weight of the circumstantial evidence establishes that Kennedy’s body was secretly brought into the morgue about an hour and a half before 8 p.m. (that is, at 6:35 p.m.), and then later reintroduced into the morgue at 8 p.m. The early introduction of the body into the morgue enabled Humes to do what was necessary to remove evidence of shots having been fired from the front, before the start of the formal autopsy at 8 p.m.

Motive for the assassination and cover-up

Why would the national-security establishment cover up evidence of shots having been fired from the front?

As Horne explains in part five of his video presentation, there can be only one reasonable explanation, one that many Americans have long suspected or believed and which some Americans have long wanted not to consider: To cover up the fact that the assassination of the president of the United States was a regime-change operation, one based on “national security,” one that was no different in principle from other regime-change operations that the U.S. military and the CIA have been involved in, both before and after the Kennedy assassination.

Of course, there are those who exclaim, “Inconceivable! It’s just inconceivable that America’s national-security establishment would carry out a regime-change operation here in our own country. That only happens in foreign countries.”

What’s interesting about that mindset is that it’s not based on a study of the circumstantial evidence in Kennedy assassination. It’s instead based on what I call the “Inconceivable” Doctrine, which holds that while it’s conceivable that the national-security establishments in foreign countries would assassinate or oust a president from office to protect “national security” or that the U.S. national-security establishment would assassinate or oust a foreign leader from power on grounds of “national security,” it’s just inconceivable that that sort of thing could happen here in the United States.

Yet no one can reasonably dispute the fact that the U.S. national-security establishment subscribes to the principle that it is the solemn responsibility of a nation’s national-security establishment to assassinate or oust its own president from office when his policies are posing a grave threat to “national security.”

Consider, for example, the U.S. national-security state’s support of the regime-change operation in South Vietnam shortly before the Kennedy assassination as well as the Chilean military coup ten years later. The U.S. national-security establishment supported both coups because they believed that the national-security establishments in those countries were doing the right thing in removing their respective presidents from office to protect “national security.” For that matter, it’s also the reason that the U.S. national-security establishment has continued to support the Egyptian national-security establishment after its ouster in 2013 of the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

For anyone who subscribes to the notion of “national security,” Kennedy’s policies — including what was considered his “betrayal” and “treason” at the Bay of Pigs, his firing of high CIA officials after the CIA’s fiasco at the Bay of Pigs, his promise to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces, his promise to never invade Cuba and to remove U.S. nuclear weapons from Turkey during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the disdain he held for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his refusal to commit combat troops to Laos, his decision to pull out of Vietnam, his refusal to invade Cuba (once in 1961, and twice in 1962), his rejection of Operation Northwoods, his Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets, his proposal to make the moon-landing project a joint operation with the Soviet Union, his famous “Peace Speech” at American University, and his secret contacts with communist leaders in the Soviet Union and Cuba in an attempt to end the Cold War on the eve of his assassination, not to mention his many extra-marital sexual affairs — arguably posed a much graver threat to “national security” than the threats to “national security” supposedly posed by South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem and Chile’s Salvador Allende or, for that matter, other targets of U.S. regime-change operations during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including Mohammed Mossadegh, Jacobo Arbenz, Patrice Lumumba, and Fidel Castro.

Recommended resources

Contemporaneous with the release of this video project, The Future of Freedom Foundation is releasing two e-books, both of which consist of essays originally published on FFF’s website, and each of which costs 99 cents.

One e-book is entitled: JFK’s War with the National-Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated, by Douglas Horne, which delves into motive — i.e., the war that was taking place between Kennedy and the U.S. national-security establishment, practically throughout his entire presidency, a war that was kept secret from the American people for decades and with which mainstream historians are now having to come to grips.

The other e-book is entitled The Kennedy Autopsy, which is my review of Horne’s five-volume book, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK.

If you have never delved into the assassination of John F. Kennedy and wish to confront this disquieting part of U.S. history, a history rooted in America’s adoption of a national-security state apparatus after World War II, along with its accompanying nebulous doctrine of “national security,” a doctrine not even mentioned in the Constitution, I recommend starting with the following videos, books, articles, and websites:


Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence, a video presentation by Douglas P. Horne sponsored by The Future of Freedom Foundation

JFK—The Medical Cover-Up, an interview conducted of Douglas P. Horne by London-based Irish filmmaker Shane O’Sullivan

The Zapruder Film Mystery, an interview conducted of Douglas P. Horne by London-based Irish filmmaker Shane O’Sullivan

JFK, starring Kevin Costner and directed by Oliver Stone


JFK’s War with the National-Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated, an e-book by Douglas P. Horne

The Kennedy Autopsy, an e-book by Jacob G. Hornberger

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James W. Douglass

Excerpt from JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James W. Douglass

Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, by David Talbot

Reclaiming Parkland: Tom Hanks, Vincent Bugliosi, and the JFK Assassination in the New Hollywood, by James DiEugenio

Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by David Lifton

Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK, by Douglas P. Horne

Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA’s Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace, by Peter Janney


The National Security State and the Assassination of JFK,” by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Pursuing Truth on the Kennedy Assassinations,” by Donald W. Miller, M.D.

JFK’s Vision of Peace,” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

JFK Conspiracy Deniers Are in Denial,” by Oliver Stone

The J.F.K. Flap,” by Murray N. Rothbard


Inside the ARRB

JFK Facts

Citizens for Truth in the Kennedy Assassination

JFK Lancer

Coalition on Political Assassinations

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.”

— President Dwight Eisenhower, in his Farewell Address, three years before the Kennedy assassination

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas…. We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”

 — Former President Harry Truman, who signed the National Security Act in 1947, in the Washington Post 30 days after the Kennedy assassination



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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.