Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Twists & Turns of the Single Bullet Critics (Pt.1)


Who checks the factual accuracy and integrity of the articles accepted and published at the "Reclaiming History? Or Re-Framing Oswald?" website? The reason I ask is that Gerald McKnight’s article “Bugliosi Fails to Resuscitate the Single-Bullet Theory” is replete with basic factual errors, misinterpretations of testimony, and seeming outright misrepresentations of the facts of this case.

For example, in the article's opening paragraph McKnight writes:

“This theory, largely the creation of Arlen Specter, asserts that one shot entered the back of the President’s neck near the right shoulder, transmitted his neck without striking bone, exiting through his shirt collar and tie, and entered Connally’s chest under his right arm pit, smashing four inches off his fifth rib before exiting under his right nipple, then smashing through his left wrist, and finally penetrating his left thigh just under the skin before it came to a stop.”

How many factual errors can you count in that one paragraph?

I count three:

1.) The single bullet theory does not hold that the bullet that exited the President’s throat exited “through his shirt collar and tie”, rather it exited through the shirt collar and only nicked the tie.

2.) Governor Connally’s back wound was not “under his armpit”, it was to the left of it. Dr. Shaw stated that the wound was “just medial to the axilliary fold or the crease of the armpit”.

3.) Finally, and get this one, McKnight claims that it was Connally’s left wrist that was wounded, when in fact even the most novice student of the case knows that the Governor was wounded in his right wrist.

Just after making these errors McKnight has the audacity to state, “Bugliosi’s assertion that the single-bullet theory is based on substantial or irrefutably convincing evidenced is so removed from reality as to defy caricature or parody.”

"...so removed from reality as to defy caricature or parody"

Tell that to Governor Connally’s wounded left wrist, Mr. McKnight.

But the trouble with McKnight’s article doesn’t end with just basic factual errors. McKnight also appears to be misinterpreting testimony.

McKnight writes:

“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.”

As a source for that claim he cites 3H361-362.

When one checks 3H361-362 the following exchange is found:

Dr. CARRICO - There was a small wound, 5- to 8-mm. in size, located in the lower third of the neck, below the thyroid cartilage, the Adams apple.

Mr. DULLES - Will you show us about where it was?

Dr. CARRICO - Just about where your tie would be.

Mr. DULLES - Where did it enter?

Dr. CARRICO - It entered?

Mr. DULLES - Yes.

Dr. CARRICO - At the time we did not know.

Mr. DULLES - I see.

Dr. CARRICO - The entrance. All we knew this was a small wound here.

Mr. DULLES - I see. And you put your hand right above where your tie is?

Dr. CARRICO - Yes, sir; just where the tie --

Mr. DULLES - A little bit to the left.

Dr. CARRICO - To the right.

Mr. DULLES - Yes; to the right.

So exactly where does Dr. Carrico say that the wound was “above the collar line?”

As can be seen, the first time he was asked to locate the wound Dr. Carrico placed the wound “Just about where your tie would be.” Dr. Carrico is likely referring to the knot of Kennedy’s tie, which was certainly not “above the collar line” but rather exactly where the holes in the shirt collar and the nick in the tie knot were. Certainly no part of a man's properly fitted tie is located “above the collar line”. So McKnight’s claim that Dr. Carrico “responded on both occasions locating a point above the collar line” is false.

As for the second time Dr. Carrico is asked to locate the wound, Allen Dulles asked “And you put your hand right above where your tie is?” That was a question on Mr. Dulles’s part, not a statement by Dr. Carrico. Dr. Carrico’s reply to that question, “Yes, sir; just where the tie —“, was cut off in mid-sentence. But what was Dr. Carrico going to say, “Just where the tie isn’t.”? Of course not. It’s more than obvious that he was going to repeat the answer that he had already given – that the wound was located “Just about where your tie would be.”

So, again, exactly where does Dr. Carrico say that the wound was “above the collar line” as McKnight claims?

The answer is clear. Nowhere.*

But it gets worse, much worse. McKnight seemingly makes direct misrepresentations of the facts of this case.

McKnight writes:

“Because time was critical the attending nurses took scalpels and cut off Kennedy’s clothes. In their haste to free the patient from his clothes one of the nurses nicked the tie and left two slits in his shirt collar. As Carrico explained to Specter the use of scalpels was “the usual practice” in a medical emergency of this nature.”

The citation for this, 3H361-362, remains the same.

But when one checks that citation, and then Dr, Carrico’s testimony as a whole, one finds that Dr. Carrico NEVER, EVER, testified that a scalpel was used to remove the President’s clothing. In fact, Dr. Carrico never even uses the word “scalpel” in his entire testimony!

As for the claim that “Carrico explained to Specter the use of scalpels was “the usual practice” in a medical emergency of this nature,” where McKnight has the words “the usual practice” in quotations as if he is quoting Dr. Carrico in some scholarly way, another check of that citation and the rest of Dr. Carrico’s testimony reveals that Dr. Carrico never testified to that as well.

McKnight is claiming that Dr. Carrico said something that he did not.

What would be almost laughable, if this entire episode wasn’t so outlandish, is that after making such a wholly unsupported claim, McKnight has this to say in an endnote number 11:

“Specter questioned both of the emergency room nurses, Diana H.Bowren (6H 134ff) and Margaret M. Henchcliffe (6H 139ff), but he never asked them if they used scalpels to remove JFK’s clothes.”

Of course he didn’t ask them, Mr. McKnight - Dr. Carrico never suggested that they did.

As for the overall suggestion that the slits in the collar were made by a scalpel, can anyone imaging the absurdity of trained medical professionals hurriedly trying to cut off a snug tie and shirt collar with a razor sharp scalpel? One slip and, presto, the patient winds up with a wound they did not come into the emergency room with. Having worked on an ambulance and been present many, many times in a hospital emergency room, I can assure anyone that a scalpel would never be used for such a job. In emergency situations clothing is cut off with scissors, sometimes specially designed scissors for just such a purpose. In the case of the shirt collar it wound have been quicker to rip it open than try and fumble around cutting it with a scalpel.

McKnight further claims that the slits in the President’s shirt collar do not align with one another when the shirt is buttoned.

But this claim is refuted not only by the Warren Commission testimony of FBI agent Robert Frazier, but also by the examination of the shirt by Dr. David Mantik, who buttoned the collar and found that the slits aligned perfectly.

In what amounts to an introduction to the “Reclaiming History? Or Re-Framing Oswald?” website, Rex Bradford writes:

“[Bugliosi] cherry-picks the evidence, ignores the most compelling counter-evidence, and sets up straw-man arguments to knock down. This website is devoted to presenting differing viewpoints on Bugliosi's book and the arguments he makes, in the pursuit of a truly fair evaluation of the case. Judge for yourself.”

Well the judge is in.

If Bradford and the folks at the “Reclaiming History? Or Re-Framing Oswald?” website really want a “truly fair evaluation of the case” as they claim, they need to hold the content of their site to the same standards they’re trying to hold author Vincent Bugliosi to. Publishing articles with the kind of basic factual errors, misinterpretations of testimony, and seeming outright misrepresentations of the facts of this case, that are seen in Mr. McKnight’s article, don’t accomplish that.


*In fact, a simple comparison of films and photographs taken of President Kennedy on the day of the assassination (in Fort Worth, at Love Field, and in the motorcade) with the autopsy photographs clearly show that the tracheotomy incision was located at a point on the President’s throat that corresponds exactly with the holes in the shirt collar and the nick in the tie knot. And of course the throat wound had to exist somewhere within the borders of that tracheotomy incision. Therefore any claims that the throat wound was above the shirt collar cannot be true.

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