As a person who was hired by Jeremy Gunn in 1995, and who worked closely under him (and with him) from August of 1995 until his abrupt resignation from the Assassination Records Review Board in July of 1998, I watched his presentation with great interest.
Overall, I found it to be a good primer for those newly approaching the case, with respect to how many of the details about what really happened in Dealey Plaza in 1963 are truly “unknowable,” because of the many conflicts within the evidentiary record, and because of the many instances where key evidence in the case has a badly broken chain-of-custody.Jeremy also pointed out that in many cases supposedly “key evidence,” such as the Zapruder film, is subject to differing interpretations by different viewers; just as the reliability of witness testimony is subject to differing opinions by those evaluating their testimony or their recollections.
For the most part, his speech was a cautionary tale about not jumping to conclusions without first considering ALL of the evidence about any facet of the assassination, pro or con. Jeremy is saying here that one must approach all evidence (film evidence such as the Zapruder film or many of the autopsy photos; eyewitness testimony; and so-called forensics evidence) with extreme caution, and take nothing for granted about its accuracy or provenance.
Yet—and I find this unfortunate—Gunn continues to use all of the uncertainties about the evidence as a “mask” to hide behind in a sense, which allows him to continue to say that he personally has no idea who killed President Kennedy, in an attempt to avoid controversy. Significantly, I do recall reading an interview he gave to a Washington D.C. law journal circa the year 2000, in which he stated that he thought that far into the future the official consensus of government and media would be that Lee Harvey Oswald had killed President Kennedy, and that he personally thought that this ultimate “verdict of history” would be INCORRECT.
That is the true Jeremy Gunn, the one I knew and worked with for almost three years—who while not knowing who assassinated JFK, certainly believed that there had been a massive U.S. government cover-up of the facts surrounding his death, particularly of the medical evidence, and of the Mexico City evidence. This is the true value of this 2013 presentation: the many specific examples he gave of why we cannot trust the medical evidence or the Mexico City evidence.
Gunn, unfortunately, made some factual errors during his presentation. As someone who has also spoken publicly about the assassination, I know how easy it is to make an inadvertent mistake when speaking before an audience. Nevertheless, it is important for someone to correct these inadvertent errors, so here goes:
1. Gunn stated that the autopsy doctors had not seen the autopsy photos before their ARRB depositions; this was incorrect. Humes, Boswell, and Ebersole saw the original autopsy photos and x-rays on Nov. 1, 1966, and created a catalogue listing of what they depicted; Humes, Boswell, and Finck saw them again in January 1967 when gathered together by the Justice Department to write a report; and Humes, Boswell and Finck saw prints of some of the transparencies before the HSCA in 1977 and 1978.
2. Gunn mistakenly said that Dr. Humes had never told the Warren Commisison that he had burned the first draft of the autopsy report. In fct, Humes admitted this under oath to Arlen Specter that he burne the original after preparing a revision, but tried to change the focus solely to his destruction of notes, when before the HSCA.
3.Gunn stated incorrectly that “the Secretary of the Navy, Arleigh Burke,” was present at JFK’s autopsy. This was untrue, and with some sympathy I could tell from his presentation that he knew he had misspoken. The truth is that the Surgeon General of the Navy, Admiral Kenney, was present; along with George Burkley, the President’s military physician, as well as Admiral Galloway, who was in charge of the entire Bethesda complex. There was at least one other flag officer present as well: General Wehle (U.S. Army), the Commandant of the MDW. There is some reason to believe that one of JFK’s enemies, USAF General Curtis LeMay, was present at his autopsy; but there is no evidence to suggest that another of his adversaries, Navy Admiral Arleigh Burke, was present.
4. Gunn correctly admitted the importance of 2 brain exams (vice one) having taken place following the autopsy on JFK’s body, but deftly avoided discussing the unavoidable implications: namely, that the brain photos in the Archives today were taken at the second exam, not the first, and CANNOT BE photos of JFK’s brain. This is undeniably true; I know Jeremy believes it; and he was dodging the implications of this fact (U.S. government cover-up) by not mentioning the implications of the second brain exam.
5. Gunn’s personal bias toward the authenticity of the Zapruder film was blatantly obvious; but he may not yet have been acquainted with the remarkable testimony of Dino Brugioni, the Chief of Information at the CIA’s NPIC in 1963, who says he saw a different Z film the weekend of the assassination. If Gunn could view the 4 hour, 15 minute video interview of Dino that I recorded on video in 2011, I’m confident his views on the authenticity of the Zapruder film would be modified.
6. In discussing the Dallas physicians Gunn incorrectly stated that none of them had been pressured to change their minds about what they saw on 11/22/63. This is not true.
Nurse Audrey Bell relayed to Gunn and I personally, in 1997, that Dr. Perry had told her the day after the assassination that officials at Bethesda Naval Hospital had pressured him all night long to change his opinion about the throat wound being an entrance wound, and to say instead that it had been a wound of exit. If that is not pressure, I do not know what is.
Also, the HSCA became aware of reliable hearsay that Secret Service Agent Elmer Moore later admitted toa third party (James Gochenaur) that he had “leaned on Dr. Perry about the throat wound” and that he felt remorse for that. [Moore was the official who showed the Dallas doctors the final version of the autopsy report on December 11, 1963.]
In conclusion, Gunn’s speech is a good introductory primer about the hazards involved in investigating the JFK case; but as usual, he is unwilling to directly say what I know for a fact—that he personally believes there was a government cover-up of the medical evidence and of the Mexico City evidence, or discuss the obvious implications of those cover-ups. In refusing to go this far in public statements, I believe Gunn hopes to avoid censure by the academic community, and any ensuing risk to his career. If you will watch his speech a second time, you will see that he actually acknowledges terrible misdeeds in these two areas, and much wrongdoing by government officials, but is unwilling to discuss the implications.
One of the most significant things Gunn ever said to me about the medical evidence was that in his opinion, the JFK autopsy photos placed into the official record—we both knew there were numerous autopsy photos that had been “deep-sixed,” or suppressed—were intended to CONCEAL, rather than to reveal what had happened. In other words, the intent of the culled collection of photos was to conceal the reality of the event, and present a misleading picture of what had truly transpired during JFK’s assassination.
This revelatory statement (which he made more than once to me) reveals that while Gunn could not figure out who had killed President Kennedy, he believed without any doubt that the U.S. government had covered up the crime.