FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Debra Conway
JFK Lancer Productions & Publications
332 N.E.5th Street
Grand Prairie, TX 75050
Warren Commission Suppressed Jackie's
Testimony On JFK's Head Wound
Court Reporter's Tape Shows
Additional Description Withheld
Dallas, TX -- August 5, 2001 -- JFK Lancer, an historical research firm reports that the Court Reporter's tape shows Jacqueline Kennedy's testimony before the Warren Commission had additional descriptions which were withheld.
Mrs. Kennedy testified in a short private session held at her home in Washington, D.C., with Chief Justice Earl Warren, Commission General Council J. Lee Rankin, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and a court reporter in attendance. Testimony of witnesses before the Warren Commission was made public in the fall of 1964. Jacqueline Kennedy's testimony was also released containing her description of her husbands wounds which read :
"And just as I turned and looked at him, I could see a piece of his skull and I remember it was flesh colored
. I remember thinking he just looked as if he had a slight headache. And I just remember seeing that. No blood or anything."
But a second section in which she described the wounds she saw carried only the notation: (Reference to Wounds Deleted).
Although very few Americans actually read those transcripts, historians and researchers who did read them were outraged, and waged a legal battle to have the omitted testimony released. In the early 1970s, a court decision required the United States Government to disclose to the public the contents of the still classified section of Mrs. Kennedy's 1964 Warren Commission testimony. Her previously withheld statement read:
" I was trying to hold his hair on. From the front there was nothing --- I suppose there must have been
But from the back you could see, you know, you were trying to hold his hair on, and his skull on
Releasing this previously withheld section gave researchers what was assumed to be Mrs. Kennedy's complete description of the President's head wounds. Researchers took for granted that the hand-typed transcript page released by the National Archives from the official records of the Warren Commission ended the matter.
However, new analysis reveals that the original court tape actually reads:
"... I could see a piece of his skull sort of wedge-shaped, like that, and I remember that it was flesh colored with little ridges at the top
Filmmaker Mark Sobel found the discrepancy while doing research for a forthcoming documentary on JFK. Sobel explained, "I was quite surprised to find that Mrs. Kennedy was not asked for more detail --- she had an opportunity to view the wounds longer and closer than any other person as they originally existed. Given the seemingly contradictory testimony by the doctors who treated the President at Parkland Hospital in Dallas just after the shooting and the Doctors who performed the autopsy at Bethesda many hours later, Mrs. Kennedy's testimony would appear critical."
Sobel filed under the Freedom of Information Act to have the court reporter's original tape of Mrs. Kennedy's testimony unsealed, citing that the content had already been fully declassified by the courts and that it was in the best interest of the public for the accuracy of the existing transcript to be verified. Sobel explained, "As I compared the 1964 transcript to the original court reporter's paper tape, I reached a sentence officially transcribed by the Warren Commission as: "I could see a piece of his skull, and I remember that it was flesh colored"words on the original paper taped no longer matched up."
Court Reporter Kathy Bradford of Bradford Court Reporting of Dallas, Texas, agreed. Bradford reviewed the transcript from the archives and certified Mrs. Kennedy's complete statement was not found in the Warren Commission's version..
This extra description was almost certainly witheld from the Commissioners and Legal Staff as well, since these descriptions are missing in the typed transcript that is contained in the actual Warren Commission Records --- before it was finally released publicly in its entirety
Apprised of these new details, David Mantik, M.D., Ph.D. stated, "Given the lack of follow-up in Mrs. Kennedy's description to exactly what she saw, these details could have been valuable to the House Select Committee on Assassinations that reviewed the medical evidence." Mantik is one of the few doctors allowed to view President Kennedy's original autopsy materials in the National Archives.
Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, seen in films and photos in Dealey Plaza climbing onto the rear of the limousine, stated in his Warren Commission testimony,
"Between the time I originally grabbed the handhold and until I was up on the car, Mrs. Kennedy--the second noise that I heard had removed a portion of the President's head, and he had slumped noticeably to his left. Mrs. Kennedy had jumped up from the seat and was, it appeared to me, reaching for something coming off the right rear bumper of the car, the right rear tail, when she noticed that I was trying to climb on the car."
Debra Conway of JFK Lancer, says that the court reporter's tape is now on their web site. Conway stated, "Mrs. Kennedy also describes this piece of skull to historian Theodore White in her famous 'Camelot' interview where she told him, 'I could see a piece of his skull coming off; it was flesh colored not white--' This is very similar to what she said to the Warren Commission."
Conway went on to explain, "There were pieces of skull found in the street and in the limousine. The piece of skull described by Mrs. Kennedy could have been one of those later found in the street, the limousine, or an avulsed piece still attached to his head."
Researcher Barb Junkkarinen, who specializes in the medical evidence of the Kennedy assassination and is the Director of the JFK Alliance for Open Archives organization, told JFK Lancer, "The real 'find' here is that two specific descriptions of the head wound by Mrs. Kennedy (that the skull piece was wedge shaped, and that it had little ridges at the top) are not included in what is supposed to be the full and complete transcript of her testimony."
In his memoirs, Senator Arlen Specter, a Junior Council for the Warren Commission in 1964, suggests that the minimal testimony taken from Mrs. Kennedy was due to Earl Warren wishing to be protective of her, and that the handling of her testimony created some distress among other Commissioners and Legal Staff. However, in formerly Top Secret transcripts of the meetings of the seven Commissioners, Commissioner John J. McCloy repeatedly emphasized the importance of obtaining such testimony as quickly as possible "She's the best witness," he said "as to how those bullets struck her husband
Junkkarinen adds, "Why they would withhold an accurate description is open to debate, but the fact that they put out an altered transcript is telling
. How many other transcripts may have fallen victim to the same shenanigans? This is a find that proves alteration of original evidence, and that is important
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