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When I finished reading Douglas Horne’s book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, I knew that the Kennedy assassination could no longer legitimately be considered a “conspiracy theory.” Horne’s book pushed the assassination over the line by establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the November 22, 1963, assassination was, in fact, a regime-change operation carried out by the national-security establishment.
How did Horne do that? He compiled all of the evidence that established that the autopsy the national-security establishment per- formed on President Kennedy’s body was fraudulent and then presented that evidence in his five-volume book.
Horne’s establishment of a fraudulent autopsy was a game-changer in the Kennedy assassination. As I have repeatedly emphasized over the years, there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. None. No one has ever come up with one. No one ever will. It necessarily means criminal culpability on the part of the national-security establishment in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There is no way around it.
There is an important, undisputed fact about the autopsy: It was orchestrated and carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment. No one else. Not the Mafia. Not the Soviets. Not the Cubans. Not the communists.
A fraudulent autopsy can mean only one thing
That means that once the autopsy was determined to be fraudulent, there was no way for lone-nut theorists to circumvent the problem: A fraudulent autopsy proves criminal culpability in the assassination.
This is especially true when we realize that the plan to prevent Dr. Rose, the Dallas County medical examiner, from conducting the autopsy in Dallas, as required by state law, was launched at the moment that Kennedy was declared dead. It is now clear that the reason for that was so that Kennedy’s body could be taken to Maryland and placed in the hands of the military, which had the responsibility of conducting the autopsy.
There were two reasons for placing the autopsy under the control of the military: one, the culture of secrecy in the military, and two, the penchant within the military to obey orders. In fact, the Kennedy autopsy was shrouded in secrecy. People who participated in it were forced to sign secrecy oaths and threatened with court martial or criminal prosecution if they ever talked about what they had seen.
But keep in mind something important: Horne’s book was published in 2009. That’s more than 45 years after the assassination! That is an extremely long time to inculcate people’s minds with the notion of “conspiracy theory!” By the time Horne’s book was published, the mainstream media, for whatever reason, was not about to revisit the Kennedy assassination. And by this time, many Americans had convinced themselves that anyone who questioned the official narrative had to be a “conspiracy theorist.”
Of course, that’s not to say that before the publication of Horne’s book there weren’t anomalies, contradictions, and inconsistencies in the assassination that pointed toward guilt on the part of the national-security establishment. There were plenty of those things, and there were many excellent books by assassination researchers that pointed them out.
There were also unusual circumstances surrounding the autopsy that were known before Horne’s book was published. But assassination researchers often regarded them simply as acts of incompetence or negligence on the part of the military pathologists who conducted the autopsy. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, incompetence or negligence are completely different concepts than fraud. Fraud entails a deliberate, criminal intent to deceive.
The first evidence of a conspiracy
The first indications of fraud appeared in a watershed book entitled Best Evidence by David Lifton, which was published in 1981. Lifton’s book detailed some enlisted men who were claiming that they carried Kennedy’s body into the Bethesda morgue almost 1 1/2 hours before the official entry time of 8 p.m. into the morgue. It was something that the military had clearly wanted to keep secret. The reason those enlisted men were talking was because the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which reopened the Kennedy assassination in the 1970s, had released them from the secrecy oaths that they had been forced to take some ten years before.
While the early, secret introduction of Kennedy’s body into the morgue pointed toward some dark shenanigans, it was still not sufficient evidence, at least for me, to convict, beyond a reasonable doubt, the national-security state of autopsy fraud and, therefore, of the assassination itself.
The clear and convincing evidence of autopsy fraud would come out in the 1990s, during the term of the Assassination Records Review Board, on whose staff Horne served. As I indicated previously, the ARRB was a federal agency charged with enforcing the JFK Records Act, which mandated that federal agencies disclose their long-secret assassination-related records to the public.
But keep in mind that this was more than 30 years after the assassination, when the mainstream media had lost interest in the assassination and when many people had become convinced that the Kennedy assassination was nothing more than a “conspiracy theory.”
The problem was that most people, including me, did not study in detail the evidence that the ARRB uncovered. It took Horne’s book to do that. He marshaled all the evidence of autopsy fraud uncovered by the ARRB and presented it in his five-volume book. But, again, that was in 2009, almost 50 years after the assassination! That’s a long time for secrecy to prevail.
Nonetheless, that’s when the Kennedy assassination definitely crossed the line from conspiracy theory to a definite fact of a national-security-state, regime-change operation. Horne’s book established beyond a reasonable doubt that the autopsy that the military conducted on Kennedy’s body was fraudulent and, therefore, that the national-security establishment had orchestrated and carried out the assassination.
Overwhelming evidence of fraud
The evidence establishing the fraudulent autopsy is detailed in Horne’s book as well as in my three books: The Kennedy Autopsy, The Kennedy Autopsy 2, and my newest book, An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story. Permit me to give just two examples of fraud in the autopsy in this article.
The military pathologists claimed that there was only one examination conducted of President Kennedy’s brain as part of the overall autopsy. Horne and the ARRB’s general counsel, an attorney named Jeremy Gunn, discovered that they were lying. There were actually two brain exams, one of which could not possibly have been performed on Kennedy’s brain.
It goes without saying that that lie and those two brain exams conclusively establish criminal fraud. And as I indicated early, there is no innocent explanation for criminal fraud. It necessarily means guilt in the assassination itself.
How did Gunn and Horne discover that the pathologists were lying? The official photographer for the autopsy, a highly respected and competent photographer for the Navy, a man named John Stringer, took photographs of the brain at the first brain exam. He told the ARRB that the pathologists had “sectioned” the brain, which means that they cut it like a loaf of bread. That’s standard procedure in an autopsy when the victim has been shot in the head.
But the photographs of the brain in the official record show a brain that has not been sectioned. There is no way that a sectioned brain can be put back together. That necessarily means that there was a second brain exam at which a different brain was used, one that most likely was brought over from the Bethesda Medical Center, which was a teaching hospital. Moreover, when Stringer was shown the official autopsy photographs of the nonsectioned brain, he expressly denied that those were the photographs he took.
That’s what is called fraud, which is a criminal offense. Why is that important? As I point out in my latest book, once a person has concluded that the autopsy was fraudulent, he has automatically concluded that this cannot possibly be considered a “conspiracy theory” any longer, because, again, a fraudulent autopsy necessarily equates to criminal culpability in the assassination itself. At the risk of repeating myself, there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy.
That’s why I don’t spend much time focusing people’s attention on other aspects of the assassination itself. Such aspects are, of course, important in laying out the overall evidence of a regime-change operation. But in my opinion, the other aspects are not dispositive, at least not beyond a reasonable doubt.
The fraudulent autopsy, on the other hand, establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that this was, in fact, a national-security, regime-change operation.
Once the concept of the fraudulent autopsy seeps into a person’s consciousness, he necessarily has to reconcile it with any notion of “conspiracy theory” that he might hold. His mind necessarily has to grapple with the fact that there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. That’s why I continue to emphasize the autopsy in my articles, books, and speeches on the Kennedy assassination.
Let me give you another example of fraud in the Kennedy autopsy. The ARRB discovered the existence of a woman named Saundra Spencer. She was a Navy petty officer who worked in the laboratory of the U.S. Navy’s photography lab in Washington. She worked closely with the White House in developing social photography of Kennedy and his family.
She told the ARRB a remarkable story, one that she had kept secret for more than 30 years because she had been led to believe that what she had done was classified top-secret. On the weekend of the assassination, she was asked to develop the official photographs of President Kennedy’s autopsy.
The ARRB showed Spencer the official autopsy photographs that are in the record today. She examined them carefully and then told the ARRB that the photographs showing the back of President Kennedy’s head to be intact were not the ones she developed. The ones she developed, she said, showed a big hole in the back of the president’s head.
If true, then that could only mean one thing: The official autopsy photographs showing the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact are fraudulent.
It would be virtually impossible to find a more competent, professional, and truthful witness than Saundra Spencer. In fact, Jeremy Gunn stated that of all the witnesses to appear before the ARRB, he considered Spencer to be the most credible of them all.
In fact, Spencer’s testimony matched what the treating physicians in Dallas stated immediately after the president was declared dead. They said that there was a massive hole in the back part of Kennedy’s head. They weren’t the only ones. Others who saw the hole included treating nurses, two FBI agents, a Secret Service agent, and a newsman. They are listed in my book An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story.
As I detail in the book, a related problem arises with respect to the Zapruder film, which captured the assassination. The film, like the military’s autopsy photographs, shows the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact. Thus, if the film is authentic, the photographs would have to be authentic as well. Conversely, if the photos are fraudulent, then the film has to be fraudulent as well.
For decades, the official story was that the film went to LIFE magazine on the weekend of the assassination. And for decades, the CIA said nothing to dispel that official story. Everything changed in the late 2000s, when the whole truth came out, thanks in large part to efforts by Horne and a man named Peter Janney, the author of a great book entitled Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace.
As I detail in An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, on the Saturday night after the assassination, the Zapruder film was secretly shipped to the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretative Center lab in Washington, D.C., where a team headed by CIA photography expert Dino Brugioni careful examined it, make photographic enlargements of selected frames, and placed them on “briefing boards.”
The film was then transported to a top-secret CIA photography operation named “Hawkeyeworks” that was secretly situated at Kodak’s headquarters in Rochester, New York. At that plant, they made an altered copy of the film, which made it appear that the back of Kennedy’s head was intact. The altered copy was then brought back to Washington, where a separate NPIC team made photo enlargements of the altered film and posted them on new briefing boards.
There is something important to note about these two Saturday- and Sunday-night operations: they were tightly compartmentalized. That is, both teams were sworn to secrecy. The Saturday-night team never learned about the Sunday-night operation, and the Sunday-night team never knew about the Saturday-night operation.
There is something else important to note about the film. When Brugioni was shown the film as it exists today, specifically with respect to the shot that hit Kennedy in the head, he emphasized that what he saw on the extant film was not what he saw on the film he examined on Saturday night. It’s worth mentioning that Brugioni was the most renowned photographic interpretation expert in the world.
The problem, of course, is the passage of time. By the time the fraudulent nature of the Zapruder film became apparent in the late 2000s, the mainstream press was not about to revisit the Kennedy assassination. Moreover, many people were not about to abandon their feeling that this new version of the assassination was just a “conspiracy theory.”
Why does the Kennedy assassination matter, given that it took place almost 60 years ago? The assassination explains the deeply militarist, interventionist foreign-policy morass in which our nation remains today and, more important, how we can escape from this morass.
Why they killed Kennedy
I highly recommend another FFF book on the assassination: JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Doug Horne. It explains the motive behind this particular regime-change operation.
Recall what would happen in Chile several years later. On the urging of the U.S. national-security establishment, the Chilean national-security establishment determined that the country’s democratically elected president posed a grave threat to Chile’s national security because (1) he was befriending the Soviet Union and (2) his policies, they believed, were leading the nation to doom. To save the country, they violently removed the president from office and replaced him with a rightwing military junta.
As Horne details in JFK’s War, that’s precisely what happened with Kennedy. Because he was befriending the Soviet Union and because his policies were believed to be leading America to doom, Kennedy was deemed to be a grave threat to national security and, therefore, had to be violently removed from power. He was replaced by his vice-president, Lyndon Johnson, who was on the same page as the national-security establishment.
After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy was in a full-blown war with the Pentagon and the CIA over the future direction of America, especially after his famous Peace Speech at American University, where he reached out to the Soviet Union in a spirit of peace and friendship. The war involved a fundamental conflict of visions. Kennedy was determined to bring an end to the Cold War and establish peaceful and friendly relations with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and the rest of the communist world.
Kennedy’s vision flew in the face of everything the national-security establishment believed, which was that there could never be peaceful and friendly coexistence with the Soviets, the Red Chinese, the Cubans, or the communist world. As far as they were concerned, this was a war to the finish, likely even by nuclear war. In their eyes, Kennedy’s vision was hopelessly naive and was certain to lead to a communist takeover of the United States.
There was no way to reconcile these conflicting visions. For example, the Pentagon and the CIA were insisting that combat troops had to be sent to Vietnam to stop the communists. Kennedy, on the other hands, was determined to pull out all U.S. troops from Vietnam. The Pentagon and the CIA were pressuring Kennedy to invade Cuba. On the day he was assassinated, Kennedy had an emissary have lunch with Fidel Castro in an effort to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.
If Kennedy had won the war, there would have been no more Cold War, no more NATO, no U.S. intervention in Vietnam, and no more extreme anti-Russia animus. The U.S. embargo on Cuba, which targets the Cuban people with death and impoverishment even today, would have been lifted. There would have been no foreign interventionism in the Middle East and, therefore, no terrorist blowback and, therefore, no global war on terror. It is a virtual certainty that the national-security state would have been dismantled and America’s founding governmental system of a limited-government restored.
Instead, Kennedy lost the war on November 22, 1963. Fifty-eight thousand American men died for nothing in the Vietnam War. The Cold War continued, and so did the national-security establishment, whose power and money grew with each passing decade.
Once the Cold War ended, the national-security establishment went into the Middle East and began wreaking death and destruction, which led to terrorist blowback that gave the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA a new lease on life with their “global war on terrorism.” Terrorism replaced communism as the new official enemy, one that would be used to justify ever-increasing power and money for the “defense” industry. Then came the deadly and destructive invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.
And as we are now seeing ever so clearly, the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s Cold War mentality and their anti-Russia animus never really ended. While they were waging their “global war on terror” that they themselves had generated with their interventionist foreign policy, they were using the old Cold War dinosaur NATO to absorb former members of the Warsaw Pact, knowing full well what effect that would have on Russia. Knowing that Russia had vowed to invade Ukraine to prevent the United States, through NATO, from installing its nuclear missiles on Russia’s border, U.S. officials nonetheless insisted that Ukraine join NATO. Thus, we have now come full circle, with Americans being inculcated, once again, with the same anti-Russia hysteria that Kennedy was determined to bring to an end. Even worse, Americans are being encouraged to support policies that move the United States and Russia perilously closer to all-out nuclear war that threatens to snuff out mankind.
John Kennedy pointed the way out, which was why he was considered to be such a grave threat. The Cold War and the anticommunist crusade were nothing but a great big racket, one that brought money and power to the national-security establishment, not to mention the destruction of the rights and liberties of the American people through such totalitarian powers as assassination, indefinite detention, torture, and mass secret surveillance.
The way out of the morass is to bring all U.S. troops home from overseas, abandon all foreign military bases, restore America’s founding foreign policy of noninterventionism, dismantle the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, and restore America’s founding system of a limited-government republic. That’s the way to get our nation back on the right road — toward liberty, peace, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world. What better way to honor the memory of John F. Kennedy?
This article was originally published in the October 2022 edition of Future of Freedom.