"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Admiral George Burkley
Updated: Apr 19
Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, makes several outrageous allegations about Admiral George Burkley, JFK's personal physician. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:00 in episode three)
Whoopi Goldberg: The one physician present at both Parkland Hospital and the Bethesda morgue was George Burkley, Kennedy's personal doctor. Like Knudsen, he was a Navy officer and as a rear admiral two ranks above him. Burkley signed the autopsy descriptive sheet with the bullet in the back at the level of T3. He also signed Kennedy's death certificate, which also placed that wound in the back. That death certificate is not in the Warren Commission volumes and the descriptive sheet in the Commission volumes does not have Burkley's signature.
Whoopi Goldberg: Arlen Specter did not depose George Burkley, but Burkley went further than that:
[clip from Parkland Hospital press conference]
Malcolm Kilduff: [pointing to his right temple] Dr. Burkley told me that it was a simple matter, Tom, of a bullet right through the head.
Whoopi Goldberg: Doctor Burkley did an interview with the JFK Library in 1967, and was asked this question:
McHugh: Do you agree with the Warren Report on the number of bullets that entered the President's body?
Burkley: I would not care to be quoted on that.
Whoopi Goldberg: In 1977, through his lawyer, he wrote a letter to Richard Sprague, Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He said he had information indicating that "others besides Oswald must have participated" in the assassination. He was willing to talk about it at this time. Sprague, who made clear his intention to fully investigate the CIA's involvement, was forced out two weeks later. Dr. Burkley submitted a written statement to the House Select Committee but there is no official record of him being deposed as a witness.
Douglas Horne: In 1982, he told JFK researcher Henry Hurt "I know there was more than one gunman." And when Henry Hurt tried to recontact Burkley for more details, Burkley cut him off at the knees, "I don't want to talk about it anymore." The very next year, Burkley talked to Michael Kurtz, another JFK researcher, told him that he knew there was a conspiracy to kill the President and that he recalled an exit wound in the back of President Kennedy's head. Now that's a very significant statement, that the only doctor we know of who was present at both Parkland, for treatment, and at Bethesda, during the autopsy, told Michael Kurtz in 1983 that Kennedy had an exit wound in the back of his head. When Kurtz tried to recontact Burkley, Burkley cut him off at the knees, "I don't want to talk about this anymore." Dr. Burkley was deceased by the time the Review Board was impaneled. So then [ARRB General Counsel] Jeremy [Gunn] decided, well, we can ask the executor of his estate, his daughter, to sign a waiver so that we could go to the law firm, that Mr. Illig used to work for, since he was deceased also, and see if there were any records in the files of Mr. Illig that would have revealed what it was he wanted to tell the HSCA, in detail. And she said she would do that. And then Jeremy called her on the phone, she had completely changed her mind and adamantly refused to sign it and terminated the phone call
Dr. Donald Miller: When I was a teenager, Dr. Burkley and his family, four children, and my father and our family of four children, shared a duplex, lived together at the Newport Naval Hospital. He had a son George, who was my age, sixteen, and we became buddies. I looked him up again in 2012, and I asked him about what his dad had told him and his siblings about his role in the Kennedy case. That the only thing that he would say was that he couldn’t understand why the Warren Commission never asked him to testify. Dr. Burkley knew perfectly well why he wasn’t asked to testify before the Warren Commission. The reason he didn't say anything to his children, he didn’t want them to know that he was intimately involved in the cover-up.
Dr. Donald Miller: Dr. Burkley’s death certificate makes the single-bullet theory bogus. The way the Warren Commission dealt with it was, they didn’t publish it, the death certificate.
Oliver Stone: If the ARRB had been a criminal investigation, would you have granted Burkley immunity for his testimony?
Douglas Horne: We should have redeposed Humes and Boswell, after giving them immunity, and if Burkley had still been around, he would have been another candidate, because he was at the center of the photographic coverup. [referring to JFK autopsy photographs] By the way, George Burkley was a rear admiral; he was promoted to vice admiral by Lyndon Johnson; so he promoted Burkley to the highest possible rank; kept him on as military physician, and the last person to walk out of the White House with Lyndon Johnson the day he left office was George Burkley.
Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed showing the house supposedly shared by the Burkley and Miller families.
JFK Revisited had a major segment on Burkley. I tore it apart in these five blog posts:
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, misleads viewers into believing that JFK's doctor, Admiral George Burkley, said that there were multiple gunmen.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, misleads viewers on the context of discussions between Burkley's family and the ARRB regarding supposed papers in the possession of his lawyer.
Reckless charges are made against George Burkley with no evidence.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, greatly misleads viewers on Admiral George Burkley and his interactions with the HSCA.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary puts words in Burkley's mouth.
The segment on Dr. Burkley in JFK: Destiny Betrayed is slightly longer than the segment in JFK Revisited. This post deals with a small addition which includes an appalling new charge: (4:34 in episode 3)
Dr. Donald Miller: When I was a teenager, Dr. Burkley and his family, four children, and my father, and our family of four children, shared a duplex, lived together at the Newport Naval Hospital. He had a son George, who was my age, sixteen, and we became buddies. I looked him up again in 2012, and I asked him about what his dad had told him and his siblings about his role in the Kennedy case. That the only thing that he would say was that he couldn’t understand why the Warren Commission never asked him to testify. Dr. Burkley knew perfectly well why he wasn’t asked to testify before the Warren Commission. The reason he didn't say anything to his children, he didn’t want them to know that he was intimately involved in the cover-up.
JFK Revisited had this comment from Dr. Miller: (immediately after Burkley saying "I would not care to be quoted on that.")
Dr. Donald Miller: The reason he didn't say anything was he was intimately involved in the cover-up.
It was bad enough for Dr. Miller to accuse the President's personal physician of being involved in a cover-up. It is totally outrageous to say that he used his family as an excuse for not admitting his role in cover-up alleged by Oliver Stone. Dr. Miller had initially written about this on Lew Rockwell's crazy website:
His father knew very well why the Warren Commission never called him to testify. Admiral Burkley knew first-hand that the single bullet theory was bogus. He chose not to tell his children the true facts of the JFK assassination or his involvement in the cover-up. Perhaps to protect them?
Dr. Miller also endorsed this quote by Douglas Horne:
“[Admiral Burkley’s behavior] can only be understood as that of a man who was filled with deep and profound guilt about the massive coverup he participated in—indeed, which he appears to have engineered—a man who wanted to confess his role and unburden himself on some occasions, and who would then abruptly change his mind on other occasions, when he considered the effect this would have had on his reputation and his family’s peace-of-mind. His behavior from the time of the assassination up until his death was that of a deeply conflicted man, ridden with guilt and shame, who wanted to confess his involvement in the cover-up for the moral absolution it would have provided to him but who at the same time, was afraid to do so for practical reasons involving his reputation and his family. History will not absolve him, either for his role in the cover-up, or for his failure to come clean when he had a chance to do so with the HSCA, which could have granted him immunity if he had decided to expose the cover-up.”
And now Oliver Stone and James DiEugenio have endorsed this slander in their so-called documentary. This is completely irresponsible.
I reached out to Richard Burkley, one of Dr. Burkley's sons, and he sent me this message:
I don’t think my father ever actually got himself registered to vote. Being in the military he had to move a lot and he was not particularly concerned about politics. I believe that he was inclined to be more of a Republican supporter that a Democratic fan, at least in his earlier years. I do remember him making some pretty negative comments about Franklin Roosevelt. That all changed when he became President Kennedy’s physician. He was a great admirer of Kennedy and absolutely told me in 1962 or 1963 that he was going to get himself properly registered so he could vote for Kennedy in the next election. Long after the assassination I pressed him a little on the rumored issue of Kennedy having been a bit of a womanizer and he dismissed the issue as either untrue or unimportant. He was a big fan of Kennedy. He also said that when Kennedy was killed he was probably as healthy or more healthy than he had ever been in his life.
I am sure the Burkley family is bewildered by these reckless accusations.
The cavalier attitude of conspiracy theorists allows them to ignore the real life consequences of their baseless charges.
Clay Shaw's life was ruined by Jim Garrison and he was slandered by Oliver Stone. Larry Crafard's marriage broke up because of the nonsense in conspiracy books. Kerry Thornley became hyper-paranoid and totally went off the deep end. Ruth Paine has faced ridiculous insinuations for years. Carlos Bringuier's wife said that worry her husband would be arrested caused her miscarriage. Roger Craig went down the conspiracy rathole and committed suicide.
As Joseph Welch asked of Joseph McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency?"
And yet, as bad as this all is, James DiEugenio is determined to go even further. Back in 2017, a conspiracy website carried an article by John Titus in which he claimed that something was stolen from Dr. Burkley related to the JFK assassination while he was traveling to Denver:
We will probably never know exactly what evidence about conspiracy was stolen from Dr. Burkley. But here’s an interesting note; The family member I spoke with told me that every year until Burkley’s death he was paid a visit by government agents, presumably Secret Service. Apparently they wanted to keep a grip on Burkley, the man who could possibly bring down the entire assassination cover-up.
I can't speak for the veracity of this report. However, I did reach out to Richard Burkley who told me that he knows of no government agents [Secret Service or otherwise] visiting the house. He believes the accusation is "absurd." Dr. Burkley moved in and lived with Richard Burkley for five years and there were no such visits during that time.
Even if true, it is quite possible that Dr. Burkley made friends with a variety of people while he was working in the White House. Perhaps they had an annual get-together. Is it really necessary to make this all sound nefarious?
James DiEugenio referenced Titus's article on his website. So, perhaps Titus gave DiEugenio his contact within the Burkley family. Except now, the story becomes much more definite - no more presumption about the agents being from the Secret Service.
I have a quiet contact with the Burkley family. He told me the Secret Service would visit the guy each year for an interview. This went on until he passed. Hmm.
And so now Dr. George Burkley is the go-to guy for almost any part of the cover-up. The 'extra bullet' story gave DiEugenio another opportunity to bring up Burkley: (click here for my response to that story)
That question about decency? Well, we all know the answer.
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