Features: The Warren Commission, The Truth, and Arlen Specter: Part 2
THE AUTOPSY REPORT was sent to the Commission, through the Secret Service, on December 20th. The Commission based its conclusions about the characteristics of Kennedy’s wounds on it when it wrote its final Report and deduced from it that all the shots had to come from above and to the rear. There was a small hole, measuring 6-mm by I5-mm, in the rear of the President’s head which was termed a wound of entry: "The dimensions of that wound were consistent with having been caused by a 6.S-millimeter bullet fired from behind and above which struck at a tangent or at an angle causing a 15 millimeter cut." This bullet entered the rear of the head and blew out the right front side of his skull, according to the autopsy.
Another wound provides further enlightenment as to the source of the shots,” claims the Report. A hole near the base of the neck" was located “approximately 5 1/2 Inches from the tip of the right shoulder joint and approximately the same distance below the tip of the right mastoid process, the bony point immediately behind the ear.”
The autopsy examination further disclosed that, after entering the President, the bullet passed between two large muscles, produced a contusion on the upper part of the pleural cavity (without penetrating that cavity), bruised the top portion of the right lung and ripped the windpipe (trachea) in its path through the President’s neck. The examining surgeons concluded that the wounds were caused by the bullet rather than the tracheotomy performed at Parkland Hospital … No bone was struck by the bullet which passed through the President’s body. By projecting from a point of entry on the rear of the neck and proceeding at a slight downward angle through the bruised interior portions, the doctors concluded that the bullet exited from the front portion of the President’s neck that had been cut away by the tracheotomy.
The bullet which caused this wound, it was later decided, was the one that hit Governor Connally. "The clothing worn by President Kennedy," adds the Report, "had holes and tears which showed that a missile entered the back of his clothing in the vicinity of his lower neck and exited through the front of his shirt immediately behind his tie, nicking the knot of his tie in its forward flight" The fact that the bullet exited through Kennedy’s throat was, according to Specter, the prime factor which led to the double hit theory. The bullet had to have hit Connally because there was no indication that it hit anywhere else in the car. "That was the single, most persuasive piece of evidence," says Specter.
In accepting the accuracy of what was termed the official autopsy report, the Commission had to ignore a good deal of evidence which contradicted it.
On December 9th, the FBI had submitted a summary report of its own investigation into the assassination. The Commission based most of its own inquiry on information contained in the volumes of this report. Yet it ignored that part of the report which dealt with the autopsy findings, an account written by agents O’Neill and Sibert, who were present when the autopsy was performed.
According to this FBI report, a bullet hole was found below the shoulder and two inches to the right of the spinal column.
This opening was probed by Dr. Humes with the finger, at which time it was determined that the trajectory of the missile entering at this point had entered at a downward position of 45 to 60 degrees. Further probing determined that the distance traveled by this missile was a short distance inasmuch as the end of the opening could be felt with the finger.