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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on the ARRB's Quest for Dr. Burkley's Lawyer's Papers

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

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.

Screen Shot from JFK Revisited

Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:01:28)

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 cover-up.

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.

JFK Revisited claims that "In 1977, through his lawyer, he [George Burkley] wrote a letter to Richard Sprague, Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations."

As far as we know, there was no letter from either Burkley or his lawyer:

Burkley was interviewed by the HSCA and he also submitted a sworn and signed affidavit.

His first interview did suggest one possibility as to what Mr. Illig was talking about in his communication with Richard Sprague:

Dr. Burkley said the doctors didn't section the brain and that if it had been done, it might be possible to prove whether or not there were two bullets. Dr. Burkley thinks there was one but concedes the possibility of there having been two.

There is also another reason, and my next blog post will discuss that in more detail.

Admiral Burkley died in 1991 at the age of 88.

In May 1996, the ARRB reached out to Richard Burkley, one of Dr. Burkley's sons:

In October 1996, the ARRB spoke with Isabel Starling, Dr. Burkley's daughter:

Richard Burkley called Douglas Horne in January 1997:

His "one small redwell" in the call was a Redweld (a brand of expanding file).

Another son, George W. Burkley, also called Douglas Horne:

Douglas Horne then spoke to Nancy Denlea, Dr. Burkley's other daughter:

A letter was then sent to Nancy Denlea with an attorney-client waiver:

The waiver contained this language:

A letter was also sent to Illig's law firm:

The request to the law firm was rather broad, "allowing a duly-authorized attorney from the Assassination Records Review Board, a Federal agency, to determine" what records were of interest. Of course, the ARRB was only interested in assassination-related documents, but perhaps they could have offered to let the family, or the law firm, do the search.

At some point. Ms. Denlea changed her mind:

Was there any reason to expect that Mr. Illig had any assassination-related documents? If he did have documents, wouldn't he have told Sprague more than he did?

In fact, we know exactly why Burkley was conferring with Mr. Illig. It's right there in the Richard Sprague memo shown above:

Mr. Illig stated that he had a luncheon meeting with his client, Dr. Burkley, this date to take up some tax matters.

So, Dr. Burkley was meeting Illig to discuss his tax affairs. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Illig had any relevant documents.

This also provides a possible explanation for Ms. Denlea withdrawing her permission for the attorney-client waiver. Perhaps she didn't want an ARRB fishing expedition through Illig's files. Even though the ARRB was specifically going to search for assassination-related documents, she might have figured that private or personal matters might eventually become public. Not everything is about the JFK assassination.

JFK Revisited is also misleading on the ouster of Richard Sprague as General Counsel of the HSCA. He was not forced to resign because of "his intention to fully investigate the CIA's involvement." Sprague took his old-school prosecution toolkit and misread the changing times.

For instance, in February 1976, the House Government Operations Committee called for all government agencies to stop using polygraphs and "other similar devices." Here is an excerpt for their report in the Dallas Morning News of February 2, 1976, well before the start of the HSCA:

The nature of the research undertaken, both federally and privately funded, and the results there-from have done little to persuade the committee that polygraphs, psychological stress evaluators, or voice stress analyzers have demonstrated either their validity or reliability in differentiating between truth and deception, other than possibly in laboratory situations.

The Los Angeles Times reported on December 15, 1976, that Richard Sprague planned to use a variety of controversial techniques:

The article noted that:

Outlining his plans for the $6.5 million-a-year inquiry he has proposed, Sprague said that his staff would use extensively two types of lie detectors: the usual polygraph, which must be physically attached to the witness, and a "stress evaluator," which its developers claim can indicate truth or falseness of tape-recorded statements.
The committee also plans to purchase two tiny transmitters that can be hidden in the clothing of an investigator during the questioning of a potential witness. When combined with the stress evaluator, this device will permit the committee to subject individuals to secret lie detector tests.
Sprague said that witnesses, including present or former government officials, would be asked to submit voluntarily to a polygraph test. "The stress evaluator can be used when a person does not agree to the polygraph," he said.

This caused alarm bells in Congress:

Arizona Daily Star, January 6, 1977

As for the CIA, JFK Revisited makes the claim that Sprague fully intended to investigate their "involvement." But involvement in what?

There is a revealing passage in Gaeton Fonzi's book, The Last Investigation: (page 197)

He [Sprague] wanted complete information about the CIA's operation in Mexico City and total access to all its employees who may have had anything to do with the photographs, tape recordings and transcripts. The Agency balked. Sprague pushed harder. Finally the Agency agreed that Sprague could have access to the information if he agreed to sign a CIA Secrecy Agreement.
Sprague refused. He contended that would be in direct conflict with the House Resolution which established the Assassinations Committee and authorized it to investigate the agencies of the United States government.
"How," he asked, "can I possible sign an agreement with an agency I'm supposed to be investigating?" He indicated he would subpoena the CIA's records.

So, even Fonzi admits that the CIA was willing to let Sprague have access to the requested documents.

Sprague resigned at the end of March 1977:

House Democrats didn't like the way he lectured them on the subject or his apparent effort to control everything connected with the probes. Particularly, they resented his demands for a big staff and a $13 million two-year budgets, along with plans to use sophisticated equipment such as "stress analyzers," secret microphones and lie detectors in dealing with witnesses.

Sprague was in trouble well before the Illig contact. It's actually quite the non-sequitur to include the removal of Sprague in the Burkley segment.

Coming Up: The real reason why Dr. George Burkley suspected a conspiracy in the JFK assassination.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK Revisited

"JFK Revisited" Recklessly Accuses George Burkley of being Involved in a Cover-Up

Reckless charges are made against George Burkley with no evidence.

Two Important Posts Debunk "JFK Revisited"

Tracy Parnell debunks a series about JFK Revisited on the WhoWhatWhy website, and Andrew Jackson debunks the film on Quora. Both articles are well worth your time.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Admiral Burkley and the HSCA

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.

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

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"JFK Revisited" Misleads on the Autopsy Photographs of JFK, Part Two

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"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Autopsy Photographs of JFK

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Oliver Stone Pulls the Wool Over Joe Rogan's Eyes, Part Two

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Oliver Stone Pulls the Wool over Joe Rogan's Eyes

Stone misspeaks on the Joe Rogan show and I present a challenge to conspiracy theorists.

Jefferson Morley and "JFK Revisited"

Tracy Parnell dissects Morley's article on JFK assassination documents and "JFK Revisited"

"JFK Revisited" Misleads by Putting Words in Kennedy's Mouth, Part Two

Did President Kennedy actually say that he was going to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind?

"JFK Revisited" Misleads by Putting Words in Kennedy's Mouth...

David Talbot claims that JFK told the French Ambassador that he was not in full control of his entire government. There is no evidence he ever said that.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Supposed CIA Support of the 1961 Coup Attempt in France

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims the CIA supported the 1961 coup attempt against French President Charles de Gaulle in 1961. The only thing missing is evidence.

Max Boot on Oliver Stone's Lies

Max Boot: Oliver Stone just can't stop spreading lies about JFK's assassination.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Valery Giscard D'Estaing

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"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Kennedy's Back Wound

While Gerald Ford edited some language in the Warren Report, he did not change the location of the back wound. Autopsy photographs show exactly the location of the back wound.

"JFK Revisited" alleges Oswald was "placed"

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary alleges that Oswald was "moved" to Dallas and "placed" in the Texas School Book Depository. This is totally ridiculous.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on JFK's Throat Wound

The preponderance of the evidence indicates JFK's throat wound was one of exit.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on the Supposed Chicago Plot

There is no evidence that there was actually a plot against JFK in Chicago.

Was James Gochenaur a Credible Witness in "JFK Revisited"?

Gochenaur's writings don't back up his allegations in JFK Revisited.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Guy Banister

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims that Guy Banister gave Oswald a room at 544 Camp Street. The evidence does not support the allegation.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on JFK's Brain, Again...

Dr. Robert Kirschner's consultation with the ARRB explains a mystery in the documentary.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on the Weight of JFK's Brain

JFK Revisited makes a big deal about the weight of JFK's brain and ignores a non-conspiratorial explanation.

JFK Revisited Distorts John Stringer's Testimony

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary makes it sound like the autopsy photographer said that he did not take the photos of JFK's brain that are in the current inventory,

JFK Revisited Lays an Egg

Oliver Stone took to Twitter last weekend to bemoan the fact that the mainstream press is ignoring his so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass.

Oliver Stone with "JFK Revisited" Crucifies Clay Shaw Once Again

There is something really obscene about Oliver Stone once again going after Clay Shaw.

JFK Revisited Doesn't Tell the Whole Truth about John Connally

You won't learn everything you need to know about Connally's position on the shots from Oliver Stone's so-called documentary.

JFK Revisited Uses Marina Porter to Mislead Viewers

Oliver Stone tries to make it seem like Marina Porter has denied taking the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.

JFK Revisited: Were the Oswald Backyard Photographs Faked?

Oliver Stone once again raises the issue of the legitimacy of the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.

JFK Revisited: Was Clay Shaw the elusive Clay Bertrand?

This post debunks every witness that ever claimed Shaw was Bertrand.

Oliver Stone's Poverty of Imagination

He cannot imagine any sort of non-conspiratorial explanations for any of the suspicious pieces of evidence in his film.

Was Clay Shaw a "Contract Agent" for the CIA?

No, Clay Shaw was not a "contract agent."

Steve Roe Blog Posts on JFK Revisited

JFK Revisited: Again, Caught Creating False Mysteries

"Stone/DiEugenio hatch another Bogus Mystery with Sinister Strap/Sling Mounts on Oswald's Rifle"

JFK Revisited: Tripping on the Stairs

Oliver Stone claims that Oswald could not have been in the sniper's nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Steve Roe exposes Stone's mistakes.

Oliver Stone doubles-down on the Looney Frontal Shot to the President

In an interview on RT [Russia Today], Oliver Stone says that the throat wound might have been made by a flechette.

Oliver Stone - Deceptive Filmmaker?

Steve Roe presents some examples of Oliver Stone's 'creative' abilities.

A Look at the "JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass" Film by Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone distorts the testimony about Oswald's palmprint on the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.


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