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The JFK Autopsy Cover-Up


A classic example of the obtuseness of the U.S. mainstream press regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy occurred recently on television station KARE in Minneapolis-St. Paul, when the station’s reporter, Chris Hrapsky, was interviewing federal Judge John Tunheim, who served as chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, the agency that Congress established in the 1990s to enforce the JFK Records Act.

The Act, which was enacted in 1992 as a result of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, required the CIA and other federal agencies to to disclose their long-secret JFK-related records to the public. However, the law gave the CIA and other agencies another 25 years to continue their secrecy, which the CIA took advantage of by keeping tens of thousands of its assassination records secret. The deadline expired on October 26, 2017. However on the very day of the deadline, the CIA succeeding in persuading President Trump to continue keeping most of the remaining records secret, on grounds of protecting “national security” of course.

Hrapsky’s interview of Tunheim, which took place on November 2, arose within the context of the publicity generated by the October 26 deadline. During the interview, Hrapsky was presented with the opportunity to explore one of the “smoking guns” uncovered by the ARRB, one that pointed to the national-security state’s cover-up in the JFK assassination by conducting a fraudulent autopsy on the president’s body.

Perhaps it was just ignorance of the facts that prevented Hrapsky from following up on one of the critical questions he asked Tunheim. Or perhaps it’s what might be called the “inconceivable mindset” that afflicts many mainstream reporters and commentators when it comes to the JFK assassination, a mindset that holds that it is simply inconceivable that the U.S. national-security establishment would carry out a domestic regime-change operation, even if national security ostensibly required it. Maybe Hrapsky was scared of how his employer might react if he made a deeper exploration into what the ARRB found. Maybe he was worried about being labeled a communist sympathizer or a conspiracy theorist. Or perhaps it was just a deep-seated fear of exploring what some consider a very frightening possibility, one they simply cannot confront mentally or emotionally — that the U.S. national-security establishment acted to protect national security by removing Kennedy from power, just as it did with regime-change operations in Iran, Guatemala, Congo, Cuba, Chile, and other places.

Regardless, Hrapsky is a reporter. As such, he had a professional duty to educate himself on the facts of the ARRB before conducting his interview with Tunheim. He also had a professional duty to follow up on critically important matters discovered by the ARRB that pointed in the direction of an official cover-up.

Here is the critical exchange between Hrapsky and Tunheim:

REPORTER: Is it true that the president’s brain was missing at some point?

JT: Well that’s an interesting question. . . The brain was removed, which is not an uncommon thing. They did slices for further study. . . Brain tissues—when they were all done with it — they were all put together and shipped off with the other autopsy materials, which went to the White House physician. Later he turned that over to Robert Kennedy, who later turned it over to the National Archives. In that three or four step process things went missing.

Rather than follow up, Hrapsyky completely changed the subject and went off in a completely different direction, asking Tunheim, “How was the JFK Assassination Records Review Board formed and why?”

He could have instead asked Tunheim about the two different brain examinations that were held as part of the autopsy that the U.S. military conducted on President Kennedy’s body.

Why is that important? Because one of the two brains— the one examined at the second brain examination — could not have been that of President Kennedy. Instead, it was undoubtedly one of the brains that were being used to train medical students at the Bethesda Navy Medical Center.

The full details of this episode are set forth in Volume 3, Chapter 10, of Douglas Horne’s five-volume work Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK. Horne served on the staff of the ARRB in the 1990s. The title of Chapter 10 is “Two Brain Examinations — Coverup Confirmed.”

Horne’s entire five-volume work is not an easy read. But anyone who takes the time to read and study it will inevitably conclude that the military’s autopsy of JFK was fraudulent. For an easy to read summary of Horne’s five-volume book, I recommend my book The Kennedy Autopsy.

As Horne points out, the timeline, the sworn testimony of various witnesses, and clear and convincing circumstantial evidence establish the two brain examinations.

The official photographer, John Stringer, participated in the first brain exam but not in the second one. The second one had a different, unknown photographer. When Stringer was asked by the ARRB to identify the official photographs of the brain that are in the official record, he could not do so. He testified that the photographs in the official record could not be the ones he took.

In the first brain examination, the brain was “sectioned” or cut into slices, like a loaf of bread. That is standard procedure for gunshot wounds to the head. It’s done to examine the trajectory of the bullet.

Once a brain is sectioned, it cannot be put back together. The brain in the second, later brain examination was not sectioned. The photographs in the official record — those that Stringer denied taking — depict a full sized, albeit damaged, brain.

It is undisputed that the shot that hit Kennedy in the head destroyed a large portion of his brain. FBI agent Frank O’Neill, who was present at the autopsy, estimated that one-half of JFK’s brain was gone. Dallas treating physician Dr. Robert McClellan estimated that one-third had been destroyed.

Yet, the photographs in the official record depict a full-sized, albeit damaged, brain. That obviously presents problems because a damaged brain cannot regenerate itself, especially after the person is dead.

There is more.

The official autopsy report states that the brain was weighed as part of the autopsy. It weighed 1500 grams.

That’s a problem.


As Horne points out, an average male’s brain weighs 1350 grams. How can a brain that has had 1/3 to 1/2 of its mass destroyed weigh more than a brain that has not been destroyed? It simply is not possible.

Why would the military conduct a fraudulent autopsy? To cover up the fact that Kennedy had been hit by shots fired from the front. Since the aim was to establish falsely that Kennedy had been hit by shots fired from the rear, where Lee Harvey Oswald was situated, photographs of Kennedy’s brain obviously could not be used since they showed that the head shot entered from the front and exited from the rear. That’s why another brain had to be summoned and used, one that falsely depicted a shot coming from the rear. (See my recent article “The Cunningness of the CIA’s JFK Assassination Cover-Up.”)

It’s important to keep in mind that all of this was kept secret from the American people from 1963 to the 1990s. Military personnel who participated in the autopsy were required by superior officers to sign written secrecy oaths, in which they promised never to reveal what they had seen during the autopsy. If it hadn’t been for Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, everything surrounding the autopsy would have remained secret, most likely forever.

Keep in mind also how it came to be that the military conducted the JFK autopsy. Texas law required that the Dallas County Medical Examiner conduct the autopsy. But Lyndon Johnson, who was elevated to the presidency on JFK’s death, ordered the Secret Service to get the body out of Parkland (in violation of state law) and immediately bring it to Dallas Love Field, where Johnson’s people were making room for the casket by removing seats from Air Force One.

As I point out in The Kennedy Autopsy, a team of Secret Service agents, brandishing guns and threatening the use of deadly force and screaming profanities, forced their way out of Parkland Hospital with JFK’s body in a casket, over the vehement objections of Dr. Earl Rose, the Dallas County Medical Examiner. Loyally following Johnson’s order, despite the fact that they were violating Texas law, the Secret Service team took the body to Parkland and loaded it onto Air Force One, after which it was delivered into the hands of the military in Maryland.

Here is what Horne writes:

The brain photographs in the National Archives today cannot be, and are not, photographs of President Kennedy’s brain. This we now know beyond any reasonable doubt. The purpose of creating this false photographic record was to suppress that President Kennedy by a shot or shots from the front, and to insert into the record false “evidence” consistent with the official story that he was shot only from behind. This discovery is the single most significant “smoking gun” indicating a government coverup within the medical evidence surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination, and is a direct result of the JFK Records Act, which in turn was fathered by the film JFK. (Italics and bold in original.)

Interestingly enough, the two brain examinations caught the interest of two mainstream reporters at the Washington Post in the 1990s:

Newly Released JFK Documents Raise Questions About Medical Evidence by Deb Riechmann

Archive Photos Not of JFK’s Brain, Concludes Aides to Review Board by George Lardner Jr.

Too bad that Minneapolis television station KARE and its reporter Chris Hrapsky didn’t follow up on the matter during their interview of Judge Tunheim.

For more information, see:

The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger

JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne

Regime Change: The JFK Assassination by Jacob Hornberger

The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State by Jacob Hornberger

CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files by Jefferson Morley

The National Security State and JFK,” a FFF conference featuring Oliver Stone and ten other speakers

Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence,” a five-part video by Douglas P. Horne

This post was written by:

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.