Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Twists & Turns of the Single Bullet Critics (Pt.3)


In response to points I raised in Parts 1 & 2 of this series, Rex Bradford, editor of the "Reclaiming History? Or Re-Framing Oswald?" website, added an Addendum to Gerald McKnight’s article “Bugliosi Fails to Resuscitate the Single-Bullet Theory” which Bradford says was done "in the interests of furthering understanding of the testimony and issues regarding the shirt slits." The Addendum summarized the points I made and included a response by Gerald McKnight.

While I appreciate the lengths Mr. Bradford went to in pursuing this matter, I’m forced to say that I'm not impressed in the least with McKnight's response to the points I raised. For example, one of my points, which Bradford labeled #4 in his Addendum, was:

"4. Dr. Carrico in his testimony does not twice indicate a point above the collar line as the location of the throat wound. This statement is made by questioner Dulles, and Carrico states that the wound was "Just about where your tie would be." [3H361-62]

Gerald McKnight replied this way:

"...it is McKnight who attributes to Carrico that the wound is above the collar line. I am not putting words into Carrico’s mouth, as Vaughan seems to imply as he sets them up inside quotation marks. This is based on Carrico’s response to a query from Dulles as to where the wound was located. According to Dulles, Carrico put his "hand right above where your tie is? What that says to me is that the anterior neck wound was above the collar line. Vaughan can cut it anyway he wants to fit his predispositions but to me Carrico’s meaning is clear."

I only put quotation marks around what Dr. Carrico testified to, what McKnight wrote, where McKnight himself had used quotation marks, or around my hypothetical Dr. Carrico reply. In short, I know how to use quotation marks, I know very well who said what, and it was exactly as I stated.

McKnight states that I imply that he is putting words into Dr. Carrico’s mouth. I’m not implying that at all – I’m flat out saying it! McKnight is without question putting words into Dr. Carrico’s mouth. It was not Dr. Carrico who said "I see. And you put your hand right above where your tie is?", it was Allen Dulles! When Dr. Carrico replied to what Dulles had said, Carrico attempted to go back to relating the location of the wound to the location of the tie, saying "Yes, sir; just where the tie -- ", but Dulles cut him off. As I asked before, what does McKnight think Dr. Carrico was going to say, "Just where the tie isn't"?

McKnight put even more words into Dr. Carrico's mouth when he wrote:

“As Carrico explained to Specter the use of scalpels was 'the usual practice' in a medical emergency of this nature.”

I took McKnight to task for claiming this in his article because the simple fact of the matter is that Dr. Carrico never said anything of the sort.

In his response to my points, McKnight tries to offer up a convoluted explanation for this, claiming:

"I did not add to my argument that Harold Weisberg interviewed both Carrico and Perry at Parkland Hospital on 12/1/1971. [Weisberg's] notes on the conversation [show] that Carrico acknowledged that he was talking about a scalpel when he told Specter '...I proceeded with the examination and the nurses removed his clothing as is the usual procedure'," and "The instrument used was a scalpel, Carrico told Weisberg," and, get this, "I added scalpels because of Carrico’s confirmation that scalpels were used in his 1971 conversation with Weisberg."

So let me get this straight - McKnight, decided to tell his readers that Dr. Carrico “explained” under oath to Specter that the use of scalpels was the usual practice not because he, Dr. Carrico, actually explained that to Specter during his testimony, but because Dr. Carrico allegedly told Harold Weisberg this seven years later?

You've got to be kidding me!

Is that how McKnight, a historian of record, hopes to justify what he wrote?

Perhaps we should expect more flim-flammery from "historian" Gerald McKnight. For instance, during her Warren Commission testimony Nurse Diana Bowron told Specter that "...Miss Henchliffe and I cut off [the president's] clothing and then after that everybody just arrived..." Given McKnight's use of Dr. Carrico's alleged 1971 statements to Weisberg about the clothing being cut off with scalpels, is it now acceptable to write that “Nurse Bowron explained to Specter that she and Nurse Henchliffe cut off the President's clothing using scalpels"?

I certainly don't think so - not in a world that expects its historians to use facts to build their case.

Words and combinations of words have meaning, Mr. McKnight, and your words here completely misrepresent what Dr. Carrico testified to, seriously misleading any uninformed reader. Had Bugliosi, whom you are critiquing in your article, committed the same sin it would have been considered a tremendous outrage, wouldn't it? Shouldn't you be held equally responsible? I think so.

Apparently, Mr. McKnight is not above altering the historic record by simply putting words into Dr. Carrico’s mouth, he also takes words out of Dr. Carrico's mouth.

In his article, McKnight wrote:

“Allen Dulles, who accompanied Specter to Dallas, asked Carrico twice to show him the location of the hole in Kennedy’s anterior neck. The Parkland doctor responded on both occasions locating a point above the collar line.”

But that is simply not true. Dr. Carrico certainly did not locate a point above the collar line in response to that question. When he was first asked by Dulles where the throat wound was Dr. Carrico replied, "Just about where your tie would be." What does McKnight think, that President Kennedy wore his tie outside of and above his shirt collar? And in his response to my points on this issue, McKnight ignores Dr. Carrico's first answer just as he ignored it in the article itself, as if Dr. Carrico never said it. POOF!!! It’s gone. As a result, McKnight's response to my points on this matter is, in fact, no response at all.

McKnight's disregard for reality is no more blatant than in his claims that Nurse Henchliffe (or anyone else for that matter) accidentally made the tears below the shirt collar with a scalpel during an attempt to cut open the President’s shirt collar.

I invite the reader to take a close look at the following FBI photograph of the President's shirt collar.

Note the vertical relationship of the tears (red arrows) to the collar button. Keep in mind that the tear on the right side of the photograph begins exactly where the tear on the left side does - just below the bottom edge of the collar band. Dr. Mantik and others who have examined the clothing have stated that what appears to be a continuation of the tear going upward above the bottom edge of the collar band on the right side of the photograph (the President’s left) is nothing more than a loose, upturned tuft of thread or fabric. The tears begin below the collar and well below the button and run downward from there.

Now, here's the million-dollar question: If Nurse Henchliffe really wanted to try and cut away the President's buttoned shirt collar with a scalpel, why would she have made slits in the locations where the tears appear on the clothing? The location of the tears don’t jibe with any type of location where they would even remotely assist with the opening of the collar.

When the shirt collar is buttoned, the two collar sides, left and right, are held together by the button in the buttonhole. Thus in order to open the collar, something has to be done to free the button from the buttonhole. Making a vertical cut in the shirt below the button (where the tears appear) would not accomplish this. So why in the world would Nurse Henchliffe, or anyone else, cut those areas with a scalpel, as McKnight, Weisberg, and many others suggest? It makes no sense whatsoever.

Additionally, one can tell from just looking at this photograph that these tears are rather ragged at their edges, more so then one would expect to encounter when a clean-cutting, razor-sharp scalpel is used. In fact, the tear on the right side of the President’s shirt even appears to have a bit of a horizontal tearing component associated with it right below the collar band.

In his testimony before the Warren Commission, FBI agent Robert Frazier noted that the tears were "ragged" and that the torn fibers of the cloth protruded outward. Most importantly, Frazier stated that while he "could not actually determine from the characteristics of the hole alone whether or not it was caused by a bullet...it was caused by a projectile of some type which exited from the shirt at that point..."

Obviously, the President’s clothing was cut off – with scissors. The cuts on the President’s suit coat lapels and shirt front panels seem to exhibit the jagged, zigzag, stop and go pattern that one would associate with having been caused by scissors, rather than a scalpel.

A comparison of the autopsy photographs (which show the tracheotomy incision) with films and photographs taken of President Kennedy on the day of the assassination (in Fort Worth, at Love Field, and in the motorcade) clearly show that the tracheotomy incision was located at a point on the President's throat that corresponds exactly with where the holes in the shirt collar and the nick in the tie knot would overlay. Given that the throat wound obviously had to exist somewhere within the borders of that tracheotomy incision, it only stands to reason that the throat wound was below the shirt collar and corresponds exactly to the location of the slits in the collar.

Gerald McKnight argues that because the President is depicted nude from the waist up in the autopsy photographs, and because his head rests in a brace that elevates the head (and supposedly stretches his neck in some unpredictable way), the correspondence between the slits in the shirt and the neck wound can not be made or relied upon.

But the fact that the President is shown nude in the autopsy photographs has no bearing on the issue in question, since the landmarks of the anterior throat can clearly be seen in the images. In other words, we know that the collar and tie encircled the President's neck at the level of the tracheotomy incision (and thus, the bullet wound).

As far as McKnight's suggestion that the angle at which the President's neck is bent backward is somehow distorting the location of the neck wound, it seems extremely unlikely that there is any vertical stretching going on. In fact, if the President's neck were bent forward in a more relaxed manner than that depicted in the autopsy photographs, it would only serve to move the upper border of the tracheotomy incision to an even lower position - not some higher position above the collar, as McKnight suggests. In any event, you can experiment with the skin on your own throat and see that regardless of the position of your neck (forward, backward, side-to-side, etc.) the skin underneath the Adam's Apple (where Kennedy's throat wound was located) doesn't move very much at all.

But one does not have to rely alone on the autopsy photographs to determine where the wound on President Kennedy’s throat would be situated in relation to his shirt collar. Dr. Carrico testified that the throat wound was in the “lower third of the neck, below...the Adams apple.” Dr. Perry testified the wound was “in the lower part of the neck below the Adams apple.”

The upper margin of the shirt collar of a properly fitted dress shirt normally lies at the midpoint of, or at the lower edge of, the Adams Apple, with the rest of the shirt collar and the area immediately below it covering the lower half of the throat, exactly where Drs. Carrico and Perry place the wound. Photographs of President Kennedy taken in Fort Worth and at Love Field on November 22nd show that his shirt collar lay exactly in that position.

If the observations of Drs. Carrico and Perry isn’t enough, Dr. Ronald C. Jones told the Warren Commission that the throat wound was located "just above the superasternal notch", the notch at the top of the sternum that for all practical purposes defines the inferior-most margin of the anterior neck (throat). During a December, 2003, appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live, Dr. Jones described the throat wound as “...a small hole in the midline of the neck, just below the Adam's apple...” and he pointed to and touched the center point of the knot of his tie, obviously below the collar line.

So, given all of these facts, how in the world can Gerald McKnight claim that the tears in the President's shirt have nothing to do with the bullet wound in his throat and were somehow caused by a nurse's scalpel? I'll tell you how: by distorting the record. And when his distortions are pointed out, how does McKnight respond? He simply ignores some of the issues raised and only superficially touches on the others. In short, he has no answer.

And Gerald McKnight has the gall to crticize Vincent Bugliosi for misrepresenting the truth.


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