The recent decision by President Joe Biden to delay for another year the full release of some still-secret JFK assassination documents is a testament to the fact that intelligence agencies are not transparent by nature and that they can keep secrets. But what is the intelligence community still hiding after 58 years?
The Warren Commission Report concluded that JFK was shot at three times from the 6th floor of the Texas School Board Depository by Lee Harvey Oswald. But critics of the Report have always argued that there is evidence that Kennedy was killed, instead, in a deadly crossfire by bullets fired from both the front (grassy knoll) and from the rear.
The Importance of Frontal Shots
Now the significance of any frontal shots cannot be overstated. If there were any frontal shots, it would confirm that the killing was not the act of some “lone nut” (Oswald) but was, instead, some sort of a conspiracy whose aim (perhaps) was regime-change, i.e., to alter the direction of U.S. domestic and foreign policy.
I argued recently on this website that there is simply no corroborating evidence that JFK was shot in the throat by a bullet from the front. (Whether the fatal “head shot” was frontal will not be examined here.) No bullets or bullet fragments were found in the throat by Dr. Malcolm Perry at Parkland Hospital when he performed tracheotomy surgery on the president. And according to the FBI agents present, no bullets or bullet fragments were discovered in the throat area when a dozen brain and full-body X-Rays were taken and developed at the “official” autopsy at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. Finally, no Secret Service agents in either the presidential limo or in the follow-up car reported that there were any shots fired from the front that hit the president in the throat.
The Bootleg Autopsy Photo
One of the lingering controversies concerning the throat shot is that a bootleg autopsy photo of JFK on his back shows a substantial “gash” incision in the throat at the site of the tracheotomy. Some
proponents of a frontal throat shot have claimed that the gash is far too large to be associated simply with the tracheotomy procedure done at Parkland. Since there was no reported surgery of the throat at
Bethesda, they speculate that the wider incision could represent clandestine pre-autopsy surgery of the throat area in a search for a bullet from the front.
Now the speculation that there was pre-autopsy surgery to search for a throat bullet is an extraordinary claim; it would require extraordinary proof to be taken seriously. Fortunately, there is a far more straight- forward and believable explanation for the throat gash seen in the photo, namely, that Dr. Perry himself made that larger incision in order to more fully explore the throat area.
The conventional wisdom has always been that Dr. Perry only incised the small throat wound he found in order to make it just large enough to complete a conventional tracheotomy on the president. But this is simply NOT accurate. In his testimony under oath before the Warren Commission, Perry said that the incision he made was large enough to allow him to explore for damage in the throat and large enough (even) to perform additional surgery within the throat area itself. Here is Dr. Perry describing what he did in his own words:
“Once the transverse incision through the skin and subcutaneous tissues was made, it was necessary to separate the strap muscles covering the anterior muscles of the windpipe and thyroid. At that point, the trachea was noted to be deviated slightly to the left and I found it necessary to sever the exterior strap muscles on the other side to reach the trachea. I also made it big enough that I could look to either side of the trachea … I didn’t know whether I was going to encounter carotid arteries or whatever. But the path of the bullet clearly put those vessels at risk as well as the trachea, so I made the wound big enough to do that … How big it [the incision] was, I don’t know … . I made it big enough to control an underlying bleeding blood vessel if necessary.”
A Modified Collar Incision
What is described above is definitely not a standard tracheostomy procedure; instead, it is a description of a long-standing operating protocol at Parkland Hospital for suspected “penetration” wounds of the throat. Recall that Dr. Perry asserted several times on November 22nd that he suspected that the JFK throat wound was one of entrance. So suspecting a wound of entrance, Dr. Perry likely followed hospital protocol and proceeded to make a modified “collar incision” in the throat, which is a substantial surgical cut just below the Adam’s apple. This larger incision would allow the surgeon to explore the throat for injury and allow for additional surgery, if necessary.
What is important here is that this slightly modified collar incision resembles almost precisely the controversial gash depicted in the bootleg autopsy photo.
In addition, the description of the throat wound surgery at Parkland is corroborated both by Dr. Perry himself and by Dr. McClelland, who assisted with the tracheotomy. Both stated publicly that the wider surgical cut shown in the autopsy photo looks to be the unaltered incision made by Dr. Perry. For example, Dr. McClelland bluntly stated the following in 2009:
“Some people have even said ‘Oh, that tracheostomy has been altered; it’s too big a wound’. Well, I can speak for that — no, it had not been altered. That’s exactly the way it was made at Parkland. It’s just that people expected it to be smaller.”
Dr. McClelland even offered a reasonable explanation for the intense speculation about the gash. As he said, a tracheotomy procedure normally requires a relatively small incision, which is what most people expect to see in the bootleg autopsy photo. But, of course, they don’t see that at all because–as Dr. Perry himself admitted—the incision had to be large enough to both explore for damage and to perform additional surgery, i.e., the cutting of the right-side strap muscle to examine the trachea more fully. It is now clear that none of that exploration and cutting could have been accomplished with a routine tracheostomy incision.
In sum, both the surgeon that actually did the throat procedure on JFK and the surgeon that assisted in that procedure, did not find anything remarkable about the wider incision in the autopsy photo. And now that we know that, neither should we.
What are the Intelligence Agencies Hiding?
All of the above information has been public knowledge for decades although, perhaps, not widely known; it certainly cannot be what the intelligence agencies are hiding. So what are they hiding? They could be hiding evidence that the head shot that actually killed JFK—which we have not discussed or dismissed—actually came from the “grassy knoll” to the right/front of the motorcade. Or they could be hiding evidence that the Mafia or the Cubans were somehow involved in the planning or execution of the assassination. These would be astonishing revelations and would certainly explain the 58 year cover-up. My guess, however, is that it is far more likely that what the intelligence agencies are actually hiding is embarrassing information concerning the precise nature of their historical relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald.