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  • Fred Litwin

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Admiral George Burkley and Conspiracy Theorists

Updated: Apr 19

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, greatly misleads viewers on Admiral George Burkley and his supposed views on conspiracy in the JFK assassination. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:01:28)

Screen shot from JFK Revisited


Whoopi Goldberg: The one physician present at both Parkland Hospital and the Bethesda morgue was George Burkley, Kennedy's personal doctor. Arlen Specter did not depose George Burkley, but Burkley did an interview with the JFK Library in 1967, and was asked this question:


Question: 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.


Dr. Donald Miller: The reason he didn't say anything was he was intimately involved in the coverup.


Whoopi Goldberg: 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. 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.


Whoopi Goldberg: 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."


Douglas Horne: 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.


Douglas Horne: 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.

Screen shot from JFK Revisited


There are so many misleading statements in the above segment that it's hard to know where to start.


I will start with Dr. Burkley and his supposed interviews with JFK conspiracy theorists.


JFK Revisited says that Burkley "told JFK researcher Henry Hurt that 'I know there was more than one gunman.'"


That is not what Burkley told Hurt. On page 49 in Reasonable Doubt, Hurt writes:

In 1982 Dr. Burkley told the author in a telephone conversation that he believed that President Kennedy's assassination was the result of a conspiracy.

Believing in a conspiracy in the JFK assassination is not the same thing as believing there were multiple gunmen.


The ARRB also made a similar error:

In the late 1970s, at the time of the HSCA’s investigation, Dr. Burkley, through his attorney, suggested to the HSCA that he might have some additional information about the autopsy.

As you can see, Mr. Illig's letter to the HSCA did not mention the autopsy:


The use of Michael Kurtz as a reliable source in JFK Revisited is problematic. Over the years he has made several dubious claims, and even some conspiracy theorists do not take him seriously. Pat Speer even questions whether he really interviewed Dr. Burkley:

If Kurtz had actually interviewed rarely-interviewed doctors such as Canada, Burkley, Humes, and Fisher he would almost certainly have mentioned them before mentioning his interview with a more commonly-interviewed subject as Shaw. That only makes sense.

Paul Hoch noted in his systematic 1992 speech on the evaluation of evidence in the JFK assassination:

On interviewing witnesses: I don't have any experience worth mentioning, so I'll make just one point: Watch out for principals who have become buffs, and are basing conclusions on information outside their areas of direct knowledge or expertise. If John Rosselli, for example, knew there was a shot from the knoll, it might not have been from inside knowledge, but because some of his friends, like many others, heard Mark Lane's stump speech.

If Admiral Burkley believed in a conspiracy, it might not be because of his supposed inside knowledge of the medical evidence in the JFK assassination.


Stay tuned: There are several additional blog posts on Dr. Burkley in the pipeline.



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