Disclosures this summer about President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination are prompting a blistering dispute on whether new "scientific evidence" proves that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK as a lone gunman — or whether the claim against Oswald is part of an ongoing media cover-up of the truth. 

cyril wecht capaDuring the historic JFK document dump this year ordered by Congress, forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril H. Wecht (shown at right) repeatedly challenged two media darlings, politics professor Larry J. Sabato and author Philip Shenon, for claiming that recent scientific disclosures confirm the Warren Commission’s controversial finding in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed Kennedy.

Wecht — a former county coroner for 20 years based in Pittsburgh and a forensics expert who has studied the JFK death for five decades — repeatedly requested without success last month that Sabato (shown in a file photo below at left) cite his evidence for claiming in a Politico column co-authored with Shenon that “21st century forensic science demonstrates that Oswald was almost certainly the lone gunman in Dallas.”

Larry Sabato

Several other prominent researchers, including acoustics expert Dr. Donald Byron Thomas, also have strongly criticized the Sabato-Shenon columns, which suggest in part a highly controversial theme that Cuba Communists may have supported Oswald.

The Politico article, How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK's Murder, was published in print on Aug. 3 and followed a similar column here that Sabato and Shenon co-authored for the Washington Post on July 25. Both columns followed the National Archives release on July 24 of some 3,810 previously suppressed JFK assassination records.

In a law passed unanimously in 1992, Congress started a process that requires these and other remaining documents pertaining to the Kennedy assassination to be disclosed by Oct. 26. The National Archives staff has suggested that at least one more document release will occur by then.

Some four million pages of other documents have been released previously. These previous releases have provided the public with an increasingly complete picture of a murder that changed American history in many ways extending to the present.

Here's more about this summer's scientific dispute: 

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Kyle Kondik, a colleague of Sabato's at the University of Virginia, instructed Wecht that if he wants proof of Sabato's scientific proof Wecht should read the books published in 2013 by Sabato (The Kennedy Half Century) and Shenon (A Cruel and Shocking Act).

Kondik is managing editor of "Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball," which is affiliated with the Sabato-run Center for Politics at the university. Television and cable news outlets frequently host Sabato to speak about current events. That celebrity helps generate many invitations for Sabato and Kondik to share their views for print publications, including a Washington Post news story Sept. 22 that called Kondik a "respected" political observer. Media outlets focus repeatedly on just a few of the nation's thousands of professors whose expertise is relevant to current affairs.

Larry Sabato CoverWecht replied that neither the Sabato nor Shenon book documents any specific reference to new  “21st century forensic science” studies that prove that Oswald was the lone gunman in the JFK assassination.

"Professor Sabato must know this, and so do you," Wecht continued in blunt correspondence with Kondik that is reprinted in full below.

"To slough me off as if I were some unknown simpleton is highly insulting," continued said the 86-year-old Wecht, who has authored or co-authored more than 50 books, taught medical students, and served as head of medical societies, among other accomplishments.This weekend, he is in Key West performing what he described as his 420th autopsy of the year.

Wecht then came to his main point in writing Sabato, who was being buffered by Kondik:

"More importantly," Wecht wrote, "is the harsh fact that Professor Sabato and Mr. Shenon have publicly expressed a statement that is untrue. Millions of people who have read their article are now misinformed."

Another professor and author, Dr. David Byron Thomas, separately has described the supposed findings of Sabato and Shenon as entirely unsupported and as best described as "fake news." jfk jackie caroline kennedy library custom

More generally, this debate is important because it involves specific facts that are widely neglected elsewhere, whether in media, museums, universities or other institutions that we in the public naturally assume are studying such matters in a rigorous and unbiased manner.

Kennedy, shown in a file photo with his wife and children, remains an object of intense public interest, as indicated by a current photo exhibit at the Newseum, a Washington, DC-based museum that focuses on news coverage of American history. The exhibit is “Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe.

But this editor's experiences with Newseum staff, including an author lecture and a separate preview of the photo exhibit during VIP preview this summer primarily for museum donors, indicated minimal interest from the museum's expert research staff in hard questions about JFK's death, including why CIA, FBI and other agencies have fought so long and hard against document releases and exploring tough questions. Instead, the museum focuses primarily on the more marketable legacy of the fondly remembered Kennedy era of glamor, idealism and "Camelot," as indicated by the title of the photo exhibition.

Our column today primarily covers the specific dispute over scientific evidence. Contending are a camp of JFK scientific researchers typified by Wecht against Sabato, Shenon and those in the mainstream media who promote them. .

Our follow-up column, Part II, will address in greater depth the major financial reasons why so little discussion occurs in so-called prestigious media and academic circles regarding scientific evidence in the JFK case, even from ostensibly independent media outlets. As a preview, the track record of these outlets for decades has shown that they either ignore evidence challenging the Warren Commission or deride proponents of such evidence as "conspiracy theorists."

Our two columns thus focus narrowly on scientific and related media aspects of the current controversy. But this dispute inevitably raises the background questions of why Kennedy was killed and why the mysteries surrounding his death continue to percolate in more than 2,500 books so far, plus countless movies, articles and other debates. These are highly relevant to a host of issues, including the current Public Broadcasting System (PBS) series The Vietnam War, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. This is a 10-part series that began on Sept. 17. It omits JFK's growing opposition to war, according to critics familiar with advance screenings of the series or the episodes shown so far.

Our Justice Integrity Project, now in collaboration with the Wecht-chaired research group Citizens Against Political Assassination (CAPA), addresses these larger issues in a Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination. The Readers Guide started in 2013 during the 50th anniversary retrospectives of the Kennedy death and legacy. The Readers Guide consists so far of 40 columns. One column lists the major books and features all significant viewpoints, including the Warren Commission's view that Oswald alone killed JFK because of Oswald's supposed Communist views and disordered personality.

In related news, CAPA announced this week that registration is open for the mock trial State of Texas vs. Lee Harvey Oswald that CAPA has been organizing for civic education from Nov. 16-17 on the campus of the South Texas College of Law in Houston, which is the co-sponsor. Registration is here. Beginning on Sept. 25, the college website www.stcl.edu/oswald will be the site for registration. 

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A prominent structural engineering expert who has been studying the technical mysteries about the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 during the 9/11 attacks delivered on Sept. 6 a free webinar on his preliminary findings contradicting official versions of how the building collapsed.

ae911 leroy hulsey sept 2017 promoDr. Leroy Hulsey, chairman of the department of engineering and mines at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks,  presented his team's findings so far during a lecture on Sept. 6 at the university that was live-streamed and available for interested members of the public.

Hulsey, shown in a graphic about his lecture, also announced his preliminary written report. The full report of his team's two-year study is expected later this fall, followed by a six-week public comment period. The final report is scheduled for release in early 2018.

wtc map seven buildingsThis video version of the Building 7 collapse is here, with a reported 1.5 million views. A map of the building layout is at right, and also at the bottom of this column in an appendix.

The compelling video of his lecture is here via the university and YouTube (63:47 mins.): Other details are here.

Critics of official U.S. government investigations have questioned how the three World Trade Center (WTC) buildings collapsed even though they were steel-framed high-rises that supposedly could resist both fire and a jetliner crash.

Among the three towers was WTC 7 (at the top of the map at left). Building 7 was not hit by an airplane and fell at nearly free-fall speeds more than seven hours after the other two buildings. A widely viewed video shows the 47-story building collapsing in just over seven seconds and in symmetrical fashion.

 ae for 9 11 truth logoThe non-profit group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) retained Hulsey and his team to study the issue. AE911Truth's more than 3,000 members have signed statements calling for a new investigation and expressing doubt about the U.S. government's official conclusions.

Our Justice Integrity Project last year published Justice Integrity Project, Experts Reject Planes, Fire As Cause For 9/11 WTC Collapses, a comprehensive overview of both the official reports and statements by critics.

Appended to the column is a "Readers Guide" that is intended to make easily available in concise formats the major official and alternative studies, news items, commentaries, videos and films on the topic, with representation from diverse and reasonably credible viewpoints that attract significant support. This series thus parallels our Project's three existing "Readers Guides," which separately provided similar arrays of research on the 1960s assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.   

This editor spoke at a major AE 911 Truth conference last Sept. 11 featuring Hulsey, AE911Truth Founder Richard Gage and other experts at the historic Cooper Union hall in New York City and is helping co-promote the group's call for renewed government investigation.

That advocacy continues during the coming week with other events in New York City, Oakland and Washington, DC, and delivery of information packets by volunteers on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12 to the offices of all 535 members of the U.S. House and Senate. Details are below. 

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This editor lectured on Wednesday evening, Aug. 23, at the National Press Club about solutions to the controversial problem of an estimated 700 Confederate statues and other memorials around the nation that are becoming increasingly divisive in the wake of the fatal white nationalist rallies earlier this month in Charlottesville, VA.

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Updated: In the talk before the McClendon Group at the Club, I recommended that monuments in general Confederate monuments that could be construed as taxpayer-supported endorsement of rebellion and slavery be moved from public property unless common sense economic, historical or other reasonable factors dictated otherwise.

Also, I described the existing monuments, estimated recently by USA Today as numbering more than 700 in 31 states, as part of pattern in all countries whereby "history" is inevitably intertwined with advocacy, propaganda, and suppressed history. Thus, the issue of Confederate monuments could find parallels in many other situations, such as Union monuments, and real or potential monuments to federal troops fighting Native Americans, or conversely memorials to Native American leaders such as Geronimo who fought troops or even settlers.

For larger context, I noted the continuing relevance of such political philosophers as Friedrich Nietzsche, whose monograph The Use and Abuse of History was published in 1874 in the wake of Bismarck's victory for an emerging Germany over France. The copy was my own well-thumbed and annotated version from my time as a history student at Cornell University in the 1960s, where I covered also as a student newspaper reporter a major confrontation between armed black students and white counter-protesters.

As described by historian Julian Kraft, Nietzsche (1844-1900) challenged those who regarded history as a primarily as a logical process, whereas pointed out that moral, emotional, and patriotic factors are in play also.

Ironically, I noted, that the courageous scholar Walter Kaufman had rescued Nietzsche's learning and reputation from oblivion after showing that he was not really a precursor for Nazi and Hitler-style advocacy, as widely thought in the 1950s and 1960s, but instead had an enduring message relevant for such contemporary issues as the Confederate monuments.

The Trump Firestorm       

As background, President Trump created a firestorm when he equated white nationalists rallying in Charlottesville, Virginia, with counter-protesters and opined that there were some "very fine people" among the whites at the rally.

Some critics described his remarks as a tipping point for his presidency, particularly after business, arts, and military leaders joined with more familiar critics of his administration in distancing themselves from his views.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017Following three deaths related to the rally, I published for the Justice Integrity Project a column, Words Fail But One Still Must Speak Out, that urged Americans to get off the fence regarding underlying issues. The column also provides a comprehensive overview of commentary from others at mainstream and alternative outlets regarding the issues.

Proposed solutions for the divisive issue of Confederate statues and other memorabilia have provoked passions and nationwide headlines (as indicated above by the covers of New York Daily News and Economist magazine) because the perceived conflict between racism and reverence for the past, augmented by partisan politics.

Omissions in standard mainstream reporting on the topic carries special local importance because of northern Virginia's locale as an operations center for white nationalists. Those white supremacists include the murdered American Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell in the 1950s and "Alt Right" creator Richard Spencer today.

I concluded with a historically important "false flag" racial incident from my years at college, revealed in my 2015 column Let's Question All Propaganda: Left, Right and Center, and the positive lessons for today.

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charlottesville torchlight parade 8 12 2017

White supremacists, neo-Nazis, Alt-right hate-mongers and their allies paraded in a torchlight march in Charlottesville, VA

As the U.S. strongman Donald Trump disgraced himself and the nation on Aug. 15, the challenge is how to comment on the situation ― particularly when so many others have done so eloquently about what is aptly described as the worst day of his presidency.

But this is a time to draw the lines about acceptable behavior and say something even if the words may not be unique about his remarks at Trump Tower in New York City, (where the New York Daily News front paged his remarks on Aug. 16 below right).

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Controversy escalated throughout the day, with the Wall Street Journal reporting Trump’s Business Councils Disband After CEOs Defect.

Powerful reactions continued in later days from both the fatal terror attack and a courageous video by Vice News correspondent Elle Reeve showing hundreds of marchers chanting bigoted slogans.

In an interview Aug. 16, Vice News’ Elle Reeve Confirms There Were No ‘Very Fine People’ Among White Supremacists, Reeve told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (shown at left) that her reporting showed that the marchers were organized and did not include the kind of "fine people" Trump had claimed.

On Aug. 15, Trump had wandered off topic from transportation infrastructure to defend the "good people" attending a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as widely reported (with excerpts below from news accounts of the past few days).

djt daily news devils aug 16 17

The tragedy resulted in the deaths of a counter-protester and two state police officers, and many non-fatal injuries among counter-demonstrators. In stark contrast to Trump's words casting in effect equal blame on white nationalists and counter-protesters, a video by Vice taken last Friday showed hundreds of ultra-right marchers chanting hate slogans in a torchlight march (as portrayed in a still photo above). 

Trump's actions revealed also much about him and America's other thought leaders familiar to news audiences. Several of them, including such experienced commentators as U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and CNN pundit Van Jones, appeared to choke up with cracked voices and sorrow as they described the impact on the country of Trump's violation of decency norms.

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Long-suppressed documents released last week about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas show that the city's mayor at the time had a covert relationship with the CIA.

Earle Cabell, Dallas mayor and congressmanDocuments showing the CIA status of the late Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell (shown at left) were among the 3,810 released by the National Archives on July 24 as it approaches its deadline of Oct. 26 to release the final batch of government documents pertaining to Kennedy's assassination.

jfk parade route dealey plaza

As mayor, Cabell and his team would have helped plan, among other things, the bizarre parade route (marked in red on the adjoining chart) that brought the president's limousine to a crawl at a sharp and seemingly unnecessary turn as it entered the kill zone at Dealey Plaza (marked in green).

Cabell, who went on to election as the region's congressman during the rest of the 1960s, was already known to be a younger brother of former CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell, a general whom Kennedy had forced out in a purge of the top three CIA leaders in late 1961 after the disastrous, CIA-orchestrated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba that spring.

The July 24 document release — with overviews here from the National Archives, National Archives Begins Online Release of JFK Assassination Records and here Released JFK Documents) — is prompting a flare-up of serious disputes within JFK research circles.

As usual, it's between critics of official accounts and those establishment media and academics who endorse the government's view that ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone (as determined the FBI and Warren Committee), or nearly alone (as later found by congressional investigators in 1979), to kill JFK because of Oswald's allegedly troubled past and Marxist sympathies.

jack ruby shooting oswald full

Many critics cite the now-extensive evidence that Oswald was a low-level undercover military, law enforcement and intelligence asset whose superiors manipulated him into suspicious actions.

In this view, Oswald served as a fall-guy or patsy for a high-level conspiracy by rogue officials within the CIA and elsewhere to murder the president and use their allies in law enforcement, courts, Congress, academia and the media to cover-up how the crime unfolded. Oswald was murdered by mob figure Jack Ruby in a Dallas police station (as shown in an iconic photo at right) two days after the assassination. Oswald had  desperately proclaimed his innocence, including a shouted comment to reporters "I'm just a patsy!"

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The famed forensic pathologist, author, consultant, and medical school professor Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D. released the following statement in conjunction with a petition by Sirhan Sirhan this week to the Organization of American States (OAS) seeking a new trial or evidentiary hearing on charges that Sirhan acted alone and fired the fatal shot killed U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

Dr. Cyril WechtDr. Wecht, shown at left in his lab, referenced the news conference July 20 at the National Press Club here featuring Dr. William F. Pepper, attorney for the imprisoned Sirhan. A jury convicted Sirhan in 1969 of fatally shooting Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy the previous year.

Pepper, a friend of the late senator, argued in the petition to the Inter-American Human Rights Council (IACHR), a unit of the OAS, that Sirhan failed to receive effective assistance of counsel.

The petition, which can be read here, argues that Sirhan's original attorney was conflicted because of a secret felony indictment against him regarding another case and should have defended Sirhan (shown last year in a California prisons photo) by challenging the government's evidence on many scientific, eyewitness and other grounds. A video of the 75-minute news conference is here.

Sirhan's current attorney concedes that his client, now 74 and last year rejected for parole for the 15th time, fired shots at RFK from the senator's front but says Sirhan did so only because he had been brainwashed by others to serve as an unwitting patsy while the real killer shot RFK from behind at close range and escaped.

Dr. Wecht's statement supports that argument as follows:

I strongly endorse and support the petition that Attorney William Pepper is submitting to the Organization of American States seeking a new trial for Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted for the 1968 killing of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

As an official consultant in forensic pathology to Dr. Thomas Noguchi [shown at left], the Los Angeles Chief Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy on Senator Kennedy, I had the opportunity to visit the shooting scene at the Ambassador Hotel and subsequently review and analyze all the relevant forensic scientific evidence and investigative findings in this matter.

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