John Canal, a retired USAF SMSgt and long time researcher of the Kennedy assassination, has acquired proof that The Clark Panel willingly lied about what the autopsy evidence was telling them. The Clark Panel was commissioned in February of 1968 by Ramsey Clark, the Attorney General of United States, to conduct an independent review of the autopsy evidence.
At this time there was a climate of skepticism about the conclusions of the Warren Commission that had so assiduously argued for Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin who had shot the president. John Canal maintains that The Clark Panel had a set agenda to simply reinforce the government’s thesis, that there was no conspiracy, and that a lone nut had killed the president without confederates.
Furthermore, John Canal has clarified just how injurious The Clark Panel Report was to future investigations. This report prejudiced the next two major studies of the autopsy evidence. Those were the Rockefeller and House Select Committee on Assassinations, who simply parroted what the Clark forensic pathologists had reported. The Clark Report had the kind of clout to preserve the scenario that the shots came from the back of the motorcade exclusively.
An original independent examination of the autopsy evidence was never conducted by the Rockefeller and HSCA panels. John Canal is particularly troubled by the way that these forensic pathologists were obviously hypnotized and under the spell of Russell S. Fisher, M.D. Russell Fisher was chiefly responsible for The Clark Report, and was widely admired by his colleagues.
These forensic experts were incapable or unwilling to question the findings of Doctor Fisher, a “God of Forensic Pathology.” John Canal has come up with this phrase that aptly captures the authority and respect that Fisher commanded.
Moreover, John Canal notes major problems with the formation of The Clark Panel, in terms of the overlapping backgrounds of the four medical experts, who comprise this new review of JFK autopsy evidence. That is, a lack of possible independence is implied. Canal characterizes the problem (a conflict of interest) in his press release in just this way:
But Clark did more than just criticize Garrison. He commissioned a team of four forensic experts, including three forensic pathologists and one forensic radiologist, to re-examine the autopsy photographs and X-rays that he would later deny Garrison’s subpoena to examine. The lead expert on that team was forensic pathologist, Doctor Russell Fisher of Baltimore. Doctor Fisher was highly credentialed and had been President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences from 1960-1961.
What may be somewhat disturbing is that the record suggests Fisher may have been “handpicked” by Clark to ensure Clark’s agenda (debunking Garrison’s multiple gunmen theory) was kept intact. Certainly it seems inappropriate from a conflict of interest standpoint that Clark and Fisher met at least once with one another “prior” to Fisher’s examination of the autopsy photos and X-rays. And regarding possible conflicts of interest, it seems appropriate to point out these facts:
1). One of the other forensic pathologists on Clark’s team was Doctor Alan Moritz, who was none other than Fisher’s professor at Harvard, 2) The team’s forensic radiologist was Doctor Russell Morgan, who taught at John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore, where Fisher had his office, and 3) The third forensic pathologist was Doctor William Carnes, who received his residency training in Baltimore hospitals and served on the faculty at none other than John’s Hopkins University.
Considering those associations, begs the question, “Did the team members offer totally ‘independent’ and objective opinions with respect to what they observed during their examination of the autopsy photos and X-Rays?”
*Note: In A Tribute to the Late Russell S. Fisher, by Werner U. Spitz, M.D. (also on the Clark Panel) I found further blind worship. One line that rings with irony is: “This was my first lesson: in the office, if you want something fixed in a hurry, you had better fix it yourself.” And fix it he did, the autopsy report that is. One of Spitz’s lines is simply silly. “Forensic pathology can be taught to anyone, just as you can teach a bear to dance in a circus.” Just imagine dancing bears in the autopsy room of our 35th president!
Ramsey Clark, who took the oath of office as Attorney General of the United States on March 2, 1967, had nothing but contempt for Jim Garrison. I believe that history has exonerated many of Garrison’s more zealous allegations of conspiracy. Why would Ramsey Clark be so intimidated by Jim Garrison’s cries of federal involvement (CIA) in the assassination? Because Clark had to tow the line, he was the status quo. He was the government.
The main motive for establishing the Clark Panel was to discredit Jim Garrison, to squelch rumors of conspiracy once and for all. This never happened. As the ’60s progressed, conspiracy theories simply multiplied and flourished. Clark writes with scorn in his book Crime in America: “Three years after the assassination, Garrison launched a sensational, if bizarre, series of public charges of conspiracy reaching into the federal government.”
The Clark Panel Report was made public on January 16, 1969, when it was deposited with the Washington, D.C., District Court. An underlying motive of its delayed publication, was that Jim Garrison’s trial, which was trying to prove a conspiracy existed to kill JFK, would commence on January 29, 1969, only 13 days after The Clark Panel Report was made public.
John Canal asserts that the real motive of this ‘concocted report’ was to attempt to undermine the growing popularity of Jim Garrison’s allegations of multiple gunmen in Dealey Plaza. Let me share with you the two startling conclusions that John Canal has reached, that are included in his press release. I received this press release by email from my editor (Judyth Piazza) at NewsBlaze. John Canal writes:
1. “The Clark Panel wrongly, and probably intentionally-undoubtedly motivated by Jim Garrison’s investigation of the case and prosecution of Clay Shaw-refuted the descriptions of the eyewitnesses, including the autopsy surgeons, regarding JFK’s head wounds which appeared to be consistent with Garrison’s multiple gunmen scenario.”
*(Below I will link for you Jim Garrison’s Opening Argument made at the trial of Clay Shaw in New Orleans, which began on January 29, 1969. I believe myself that Shaw was connected with the CIA and involved in the assassination plot, but Ramsey Clark wrote: “Conceding that Shaw was not in Dallas on the day of the assassination, Garrison brought all of his powers to bear unfairly against Shaw.” Note: The first public showing of the Zapruder Film was at Clay Shaw’s trial.) JGK
2. The experts who served on the Rockefeller and HSCA panels simply “rubber-stamped” the wrongful findings of Doctor Fisher and his team regarding President Kennedy’s head wounds. I base that conclusion on the fact that many of the forensic experts who served on the 1975 Rockefeller Commission and the 1977 HSCA panels had either worked, trained, or written books with Doctor Fisher, and the fact that it would have been extremely difficult for any forensic expert to disagree with the findings of Doctor Fisher-after all he had been the President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and, in his time, arguably this country’s most highly regarded forensic pathologist. (John Canal)
Publishing of The Clark Panel Report altered the course of history permanently. I have been a student and researcher of the JFK assassination for some 35 years. I had heard of The Clark Panel before, but never put all that much stock in it. Yet, if we factor in what John Canal is asserting here, that say, the HSCA’s forensic experts simply took at face value what Dr. Fisher wrote in his report, a most disturbing zeitgeist dawns on us.
Simply put, the Clark Report concludes that all the shots came from the rear. This reaffirms what the original Humes/Boswell autopsy had concluded, but it goes against what many of the eyewitnesses in Dealey Plaza saw and what the Dallas doctors clearly saw when they struggled to save the life of a moribund president. John Canal aptly states the conundrum in his press release.
By the end of that fateful day in Dallas, nearly 47 years ago, dozens of medically trained eyewitnesses, who tried to save President Kennedy’s life at Parkland Hospital, described his wounds as being consistent with him being shot from the front. These observations were ominous to say the least because, considering it was known early on that shots had been fired from the President’s rear, that would mean multiple shooters had gunned down JFK and there had been an assassination conspiracy.
For many that frightening possibility was not tempered by the autopsy that was performed later that night at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. Indeed, even though the three autopsy doctors concluded all the shots that struck JFK had been fired from above and to the rear, which suggested he had been gunned down by a lone assassin, they did in fact describe wounds that seemed more consistent with a multiple gunmen than a lone assassin scenario.
After receiving a copy by email of John Canal’s press release, and his newsworthy findings in the lengthy saga of the JFK assassination investigation, I emailed John and agreed to write a story that would unveil what he had discovered. We had a conversation over the internet and John recommended some items for me to study, that I might get up to speed on what he has spent the last ten years laboring over. That is to say, John Canal has narrowed his focus on the medical aspects of the assassination.
One publication that John suggested that I read is on the internet and is titled: How Five Investigations Into JFK’s Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got It Wrong, by Gary L. Aguilar, MD and Kathy Cunningham. I will link this work for you at the end of my article. The major reports (Warren Commission, Justice Department, Clark Panel, Rockefeller Commission and HSCA) of the autopsy were all very technical in nature, but this piece provides criticism and analysis of these major studies in layman terms, so that you and I can understand it.
After study of this May 2003 article and after reviewing some pivotal monographs (Six Seconds In Dallas by Josiah Thompson, On The Trail Of The Assassins by Jim Garrison and Best Evidence by David S. Lifton), I posed six questions to John Canal in order to better understand his significant uncovering of wrong doing, or put more softly, to reveal levels of untruthfulness by professionals in the field of medical forensic science.
Rather than just summarizing for you this question and answer volley, I choose rather to reproduce for you, the reader, a verbatim transcript of our exchange. In the interest of accuracy and for the public record, here we go!
John Canal: While some say Jay Epstein’s book or Thompson’s book, or Boswell’s 1968 letter to Ramsey Clark (suggesting a re-examination of the autopsy photos and X-rays be done), or the Liebeler Memo (Lifton got that started), led to the formation of the Clark Panel, I’m convinced it was Garrison’s investigation that did the trick.
Clark had nothing but distain for Garrison and Garrison’s investigation, which was anti-Warren Commission, captivated the country’s attention far more than Epstein, Thompson, and so on did.
The lesson to be learned is that it’s not a good idea to have the government re-checking the government….which was the case with the Clark Panel (Justice Dept.). I know you didn’t ask about the subsequent panels (Rockefeller & HSCA), but the experts needed to be checked out to make sure there were no conflicts of interest as are as any of them being associated with Fisher et al.
The result in these failings has led to an unnecessary perpetual debate over a national tragedy.
JK: 2. What motive would Ramsey Clark have for trying to undermine the ‘conspiracy leaning’ investigation of Jim Garrison? Is it only because he didn’t want to dispute the findings of the Warren Commission, which were reached during the Johnson administration?
JC: Yes. Some big names had endorsed the Warren Commission…..Hoover, Katzenback, Warren himself, and some pretty influential commissioners. Also, Clark surely didn’t want to open the conspiracy can of worms.
Remember this? Katzenbach 11-25-63 memo to LBJ: “It is important that all the facts surrounding JFK’s assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the U.S. and abroad that all the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now: THE PUBLIC MUST BE SATISFIED THAT OSWALD WAS THE ASSASSIN; THAT HE DID NOT HAVE CONFEDERATES WHO ARE STILL AT LARGE…”
Or this? Redich 4/64 memo to Rankin: “Our intention is not to establish the point with complete accuracy, but merely to substantiate the hypothesis which underlies the conclusion that Oswald was the sole assassin.”
JK: 3. Why do you think the Clark Panel described the entrance wound to the back of the president’s head as 100 mm higher than Humes had originally described it? My understanding is that the Clark Panel described the bullet as entering the top, back of the head, right about at the cowlick position of the scalp.
JC: Pretty much all the experts agreed where the exit was….it was high towards the front right of the head. But, because a low entry and that high exit didn’t appear to be consistent with a shot from six floors up, the entry needed to be moved up. Had the possibility the bullet deflected up upon penetration at the low sight they might not have “adjusted” the entry location (IOW, moved it up).
JK: Do you have any idea what led them to this unlikely conclusion?
JC: They needed the evidence to point to a lone shooter….not one firing from near ground level in the back.
JK: 4. Did the Clark Panel render an opinion about the throat wound? As you know, the Dallas doctors were quite clear in their belief that this was a wound of entrance. Dr. Malcolm Perry was absolutely certain of this.
JC: The Clark Panel said it was an exit wound. In Perry’s defense, the throat wound was small and entry-like…but Perry didn’t see the back wound, which was entry-like as well,…had he seen the back wound closely he may not have been so certain the throat wound was an entry.
JK: 5. Why do you think the HSCA, which was better funded, failed to engage in their own independent analysis of the autopsy evidence?
JC: Man, if not most of the experts on both the Rockefeller and HSCA were associates of Fisher, in his time, the “God of Forensic Pathology”….none of them would dispute what he concluded. Heck, for instance, Werner Spitz, whom I’ve interviewed, served on both the Rockefeller and HSCA panels….and Fisher trained him…he worked
for Fisher when he first arrived in this country!
JK: 6. Do you think that by the time (1968 is 5 years after the assassination)) the Clark Panel looked at the autopsy evidence, some of it was already tainted or tampered with?
JC: Yes, the brain and some of the other evidence was missing. Not only that, the AP X-ray had probably been altered with the addition of a 6.5 mm opacity up in the cowlick area (see Dr. David Mantik’s article in “Assassination Science” (edited by J. Fetzer). I’m not so sure that the lateral X-ray wasn’t tampered with as well…Mantik thinks so. Also, the lower back of JFK’s skull (in the area where Humes said the entry was) didn’t show up in the AP X-ray. The radiologist said it was an equipment problem, but I have suspicions that they didn’t want to show the entry low or that the lower back of the head had an opening.
One more thing, there’s a photo of the back of JFK’s head that shows an almost undamaged scalp….Lifton and all the other authors and researcher thought that photo represented the way the back of JFK’s head (BOH) looked when he first got to Bethesda….that’s why Lifton thought surgery had been done on the plane. He couldn’t have been more wrong….that photos were taken after the morticians had repaired the BOH damage…after all they were preparing him for an open-casket funeral.
It was stupid, if not disingenuous, of “all” the experts to imply that photo (along with a suspect lateral X-ray) proved the PH witnesses (the autopsy docs) were wrong when they said they saw an exit-like BOH wound (other than the entry).
JK: I have often heard allegations that select autopsy photos had been altered or even that JFK’s brain was missing from the National Archives. That is, could these Clark panelists be analyzing some forged evidence?
JC: I’m certain the AP X-ray was altered with the addition of the 6.5 mm opacity. Also, maybe Fisher didn’t know-but maybe he should have known-the aforementioned photo of JFK’s undamaged BOH was taken after the morticians repaired the scalp….I’m not sure, but I figured it out…but then again no one else including Lifton, did.
John, I’ve been studying this medical evidence, almost exclusively, for over 10 years…one of the most respected researchers, a former nurse, by the name of Barb Junnkarenin (a conspiracy believer, no less), has stated that no one knows the medical evidence better than I do. That said, I could feed you enough information for a book…
*In October of 1966 an inventory of JFK autopsy materials was conducted at the National Archives. Items (the brain and tissue slides) listed under No. 9 were missing and unaccounted for. The HSCA suspected that Robert Kennedy had taken these items so that they would not get in the wrong hands. The HSCA report is linked below.
But I didn’t want to overwhelm you or stray too far from my main points…..that the Clark Panel lied, or misreported JFK’s wounds to debunk Garrison and keep Hoover, etc. happy and the Rockefeller and HSCA experts rubber-stamped Fisher’s conclusions because he was who he was………..and that I, not only can prove the experts lied or misreported his wounds, I have emails from one expert indicating they did lie or misreport his wounds (John Canal).
The “lynch-pin” evidence that led to my conclusions is a copy of a previously all-but-completely set aside or misunderstood JFK autopsy photograph, which (in my presence) was authenticated-in writing-by John Stringer, the Navy photographer who actually took the autopsy photographs. That photo, officially #45, is evidence that the eyewitnesses were correct, and proves that the government panels lied about and/or grossly misreported the true nature of the President’s head wounds. (John Canal)
It’s important to note that while Dr. Fisher wrote in his report that the contrast in photograph #45 was “too poor to make it useable”, two of my associates, Dr. Chad Zimmerman and Larry Sturdivan, who was a wound-ballistics expert for the government for over 40 years, both reported following their examination of the original autopsy photos and X-rays in the National Archives, that photograph #45 was “crystal clear.” Moreover, both Zimmerman and Sturdivan agreed with my analysis of that photograph. (J.C.)
But I didn’t conclude 18 forensic experts lied about or misreported JFK’s head wounds based solely on the aforementioned photograph. I have recently presented to nationally known skeptics of my revelations the reports (which “interestingly” seem to have been virtually buried in with the vast holdings of JFK official records) of three forensic experts who, in the late-nineties, quietly, also re-examined the autopsy photos and X-rays. (J.C.)
As I expected, perhaps because I could find no record of these three experts being associated with any of the aforementioned 18 experts, the reports by the three experts definitively refute key findings of the Clark, Rockefeller, and HSCA panels. (J.C.)
When I confronted one of the highly credentialed forensic experts who had served on the HSCA panel with my evidence (the authenticated photograph and the reports of the three forensic experts) that proves his panel lied about or misreported JFK’s head wounds to congress, he confided to me, “Yes, what we reported was not the truth”. He would later write [email], “By all means carry on with your support for Dr. Humes et al. I’ll not opine that you are wrong. Rather, I congratulate you for shedding light on a cloudy issue.” (J.C.)
The same forensic expert sent me a copy of his email to Doctor Martin Fackler, a leading ballistics expert. He wrote, “John Canal, an assassination buff, contacted me as he favored the original interpretation by Dr. Humes….As I reviewed what he furnished, I wished I could go back to the US Archives and do another review…..” The significance of those comments shouldn’t be understated. Humes was the lead autopsy doctor so it was quite telling that years after this forensic expert signed the HSCA report that unequivocally stated the autopsy doctors were wrong about JFK’s head wounds, he would write comments like those. (J.C.)
John Canal is calling for a new review of the autopsy evidence to be conducted. This would be an independent, impartial review, so therefore, our own federal government could not be the party who should organize and actually undertake yet another such re-investigation.
By default (I believe John would agree with this) our own government would be excluded, since they had already botched five previous investigations. In any case, I will reproduce for you John’s exact words. The urgency for such a new investigation couldn’t have been put any better.
John, let me add that the window of opportunity to “provoke” (by a credible article by you exposing the cover-up…that may be re-printed by the NY Times or some other major paper) the government into seeing that a fair, proper, and impartial re-examination of the medical evidence is done, is closing pretty quickly. My health is poor and my witness who just might tell the truth if deposed is almost 90. Moreover, the autopsy photographer who verified my photo is also around 90. Furthermore, like I said, not to toot my horn, but no one else has the goods on these guys like I do.
For clarification, this story is not about whether or not there was a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy-it is, however, all about how forensic experts broke the trust that the public had in them to report the truth about the President’s wounds and misused their positions in order to complete their own agendas.
In my opinion, at least for the sake of an accurate historical record on an important aspect of one of this country’s greatest tragedies, this story should finally come to light.
The Clark Panel was a ‘wrench in the works’ of justice. At a time in the late 1960s when the lies of The Warren Commission were brought out into open air, the Clark pathologists were able to reaffirm a status quo scenario of an assassin shooting from the Texas School Book Depository Building all on his own. And now, forty-one years later, we have an incredible breakthrough! John Canal is exposing this deception. Please hear his case and let’s ask for a new ‘professional examination’ of the medical evidence.
Clark Panel Report
How Five Investigations Into JFK’s Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got It Wrong-By Gary L. Aguilar, MD and Kathy Cunningham-May 2003
History of Autopsy Materials-Volume VII of the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Opening argument made by Jim Garrison