"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Kennedy's Back Wound
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, misleads viewers on JFK's back wound. The film alleges that the Warren Commission and Gerald Ford raised the wound, and then the HSCA lowered the wound, so as to support the single-bullet theory.
Here is an excerpt from a transcript: 1:04:21
Dr. Donald Miller: The face sheet for the autopsy where it shows the front and back silhouette of the body where you mark scars and bullet wounds and things. The face sheet showed the bullet wound in the back at the level of thoracic vertebra T3 which is 5 1/2 to six inches below.
Whoopi Goldberg: That location coincided with what Sibert and O'Neill wrote in their report. And in order to make the facts fit the single bullet theory, one bullet doing all this damage, the doctors needed an exit point for the back wound. The Warren Commission raised the wound in the back so that it would align with the alleged exit wound in the front of Kennedy's neck. Commissioner Gerald Ford did this simply with the stroke of a pen, changing the description in their report from 'back' to 'back of the neck.'
Dr. Cyril Wecht: As I recall, they said about Gerald Ford that he could not chew gum and walk at the same time. Now all of a sudden, he becomes a forensic pathologist, and a photographer, and a criminalist, and an expert, and he knows where the bullet hole was and he moved it up.
Whoopi Goldberg: But then in 1979, the House Select Committee moved it lower in the back because they had pictures from the autopsy. It is conceivable that, at the time, the Warren Commission thought no one would ever see the autopsy photos. When the review board declassified the notations showing what Ford had done, the former commissioner replied that it had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory. He was only trying to be more precise.
I must question whether there was any need for Dr. Cyril Wecht to add that comment in about Gerald Ford. It's nasty and not really relevant.
Let's start with the face sheet:
The controversy about the above diagram is not new - this was raised by Edward Jay Epstein in his book Inquest back in 1966. Dr. Thornton Boswell placed the dot in the back a little too low, but his written description on the diagram is more accurate.
I'm not sure why we really care how Gerald Ford changed the description of the wound in the introductory section of the Warren Report:
Screen shot from JFK Revisited
The neck wounds are discussed in much more detail in a later section in the Warren Report.
If Gerald Ford had that later chapter on hand, his change just added consistency and precision.
Author Jean Davison asked a good question on one of the JFK assassination boards:
"I respectfully ask that you take another look at this issue. My question is still, what evidence is there that Ford made his revision in order to support the SBT?"
"To my knowledge, [nobody] has ever explained how moving the back wound up to THE NECK supports the SBT. Nobody CAN support it, because moving the entry to the neck would destroy the WC's SBT trajectory, not strengthen it.
Again I'll refer you to CE 903. Although Specter didn't drill a hole in the stand-in's body and drive the rod through it, had he done so, the entry would be in the upper back, not in the neck. There's a string on the wall above his hand that shows an angle of about 18 degrees -- that's the approximate angle measured by a surveyor during the re-enactment and the one the WC used for its SBT. If the rod is moved up to the neck, the bullet will exit well above the exit wound under JFK's Adam's apple. Or take a look at this photo of JFK.
Try drawing a line of c. 18 degrees backward from the knot in JFK's tie. Where does it come out? Upper back, right? The claim that Ford's change "strengthens" the WC's SBT is simply not true. If I haven't made my point by now, I give up." -- Jean Davison; January 2, 2007
All of this is somewhat complicated because it is important to take into account the lean of Kennedy's body - which was absent from the Warren Report/Specter perspective.
Here is the photo that Jean Davison refers to:
David Von Pein writes:
"Ford didn't need to move the back wound up. And in fact he didn't, since the phrase he revised put the wound on "his back at a point slightly above the shoulder." [Jean's emphasis.] It can't be above the shoulder and still be in the back. (Except maybe in conspiracyland where apparently anything is possible.)"
Gerald Ford made a reasonable and purely editorial change.
The bullet fired from the 6th floor window of the Texas School Book Depository was moving downward at 18°. Moving the entry up from the base of the neck would have made it too steep for the single-bullet theory:
JFK Revisited tries to create a mystery where there is none. The Warren Commission made a big mistake in not having a team of forensic pathologists examine the autopsy X-rays and photographs. But now they have been examined and we know the location of JFK's back wound.
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