According to an old maxim, good things come in small packages and such is the case with Stewart Galanor's 184-page volume Cover-up (Kestrel Books, 1998-ISBN 0-9662772-0-1). It is unfortunate that Galanor's book wasn't available at the time Oliver Stone produced his docudrama JFK. If Stone had optioned Cover-up as the basis for his script instead of Jim Marrs' Crossfire, he might have made a more accurate film. In Cover-up, you won't find reference to the Umbrella Man, Three Tramps, Storm Drain Shooters, Mystery Deaths List, or other canards employed by some theorists. Galanor's book can be thought of as the antithesis of Jim Moore's Conspiracy of One with brevity being their only similitude.
Galanor's book is a well-written volume that is easy to read and beautiful to look at. It features an excellent 13-page photo section at the front of the book that outlines the story of the assassination up to the publication of the Warren Report. At the end of the main text is an extended document section followed by the Zapruder frames and Galanor's analysis of where 216 Dealey Plaza witnesses thought the shots originated. The document section, which includes photographs taken by Galanor, is beautifully reproduced. I had never seen some of these items in such detail and clarity before.
Galanor, a multimedia consultant and technical writer based in New York, has studied the assassination since 1964. His book purports to show evidence that a conspiracy existed to assassinate the 35th President. It is essentially a compendium of criticism of the "official version" of the assassination as presented by the Warren Commission (WC), House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), and the major news media.
Galanor begins his book with a discussion of the medical evidence and does a credible job of outlining the discrepancies that exist. He attempts to show that three or four "evolutions" of the President's wounds are discernable. The FBI Reenactment of May 1964 placed the President's back entrance wound slightly to the right of the spine and six inches below the top of the collar and the head entrance wound at the hairline. The WC subsequently "moved" these wounds to the base of the neck and slightly to the right and above the External Occipital Protuberance (EOP), respectively. The Clark Panel in 1969 placed the back entrance two inches lower than the WC version and the head entrance four inches above the EOP. The HSCA generally concurred with the Clark Panel although Dr. Michael Baden (their chief forensic pathologist) placed the back wound at the first thoracic vertebra, yielding an improper trajectory from the alleged sniper's nest.
Galanor also discusses the observations of the Dallas doctors who generally placed the large head exit wound at the right rear rather than the side of the head. He uses material found in the WC 26 volumes to dispute the HSCA claim that the Dallas doctors were mistaken in their observations. Galanor also uses the WC's own tests on goatskins to argue that the small wound in the President's throat reported by the Dallas doctors (altered when a tracheotomy was performed) could not be an exit wound.
Jet Effect, Single-Bullet Theory, and Neutron Activation Analysis
Galanor devotes some effort to the controversial subjects of the single-bullet theory, the "jet effect", and neutron activation analysis. He begins by disputing the assertion by Dr. Luis Alvarez that the movement of JFK "back and to the left" after Zapruder frame 313 is the result of a "jet effect" by citing quotes from the motorcycle escorts who were splattered by brain matter.
The author next turns his attention to the "single-bullet theory" (SBT) created by WC attorney Arlen Specter to show that one bullet traversed JFK's throat and then caused all of Connally's wounds. The major problem Galanor finds with the SBT is one of alignment. He cites the 1964 FBI reenactment to try to show that JFK and Connally were not properly aligned at the time (Zapruder frames 210-225) the WC says the single bullet struck them. Galanor, somewhat predictably, then questions whether CE 399, which he describes as "slightly deformed", could have caused the wounds the two men suffered.
Galanor wades into the waters of the neutron activation analysis debate by questioning the work of Dr. Vincent Guinn, who was hired by the HSCA to use this technique to try to link CE 399 to Connally's wrist fragments. Galanor summarizes Guinn's results and concludes, "…the antimony [a metallic element used in a wide variety of alloys] level in a Manlicher-Carcano bullet is by no means unique. …The table, which amazingly is from Guinn's own experiments, contradicts his claim that Manlicher-Carcano bullets could be distinguished from each other." He concludes this part of the book by repeating Mark Lane's description of the single bullet theory set forth in Rush to Judgement and seen most recently in Stone's JFK, "The magic bullet strikes the President … it rises… hangs in midair… makes a sharp right turn…".
Sniper's Nest Shooting Feat
In Galanor's discussion of the feasibility of the shots from the sniper's nest, he makes reference to two studies of the issue. He correctly points out deficiencies in the WC study of the matter, including the fact that their marksmen fired at stationary targets and used a 30-foot tower instead of the 60 feet necessary to simulate the height of the sniper's nest. Moving on to the 1967 CBS News tests, which were conducted under more accurate conditions, Galanor points out that only four of the eleven marksmen were able to score two hits out of three.
However, both the WC and CBS tests fail to account for a relatively new theory first postulated by the HSCA. In that scenario, the first shot is fired at Zapruder frame 160 and deflected by a tree branch, causing it to miss. The WC and CBS tests assumed a total firing time of 5.6 seconds. Under the new theory, the time frame for the three shots to occur would increase to around eight seconds. This additional time could make the sniper's nest shots by an average shooter (which probably best describes Oswald) much more feasible.
Grassy Knoll Witnesses
One of the major contributions Galanor obviously hopes to make with Cover-up is his analysis of those witnesses who reported shots originating from the grassy knoll. In 1978, the HSCA had Dr David Green, chairman of the Psychology department at Harvard, analyze accounts of witnesses from the 26 WC volumes and FBI reports. Dr. Green and the HSCA concluded that, out of 178 witnesses analyzed, 11% thought the shots came from the grassy knoll, 27% thought they came from the TSBD, 44% were unsure, and 17% named another source. According to Green, the size of the sample (178 out of approximately 600 people believed to have been there) "makes it difficult to believe that a sizeable selection bias was present". Galanor argues that a significant number of these witnesses were, "government agents who tend to identify with the government's case. Hence the Committee's selection process did not come close to producing a random sample". Galanor concludes, "Therefore, Dr. Green's claim that an accurate statistical analysis could be performed is false".
Additionally, Galanor offers a detailed look at four issues pertaining to the knoll witnesses that he maintains were not considered by Dr. Green and the HSCA.
Galanor maintains that, "One delicate issue to confront is the truthfulness of some of the witnesses". He then goes on to explain how Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry, JFK aide Kenneth O'Donnell, and AP Photographer James Altgens originally expressed the view that the shots came from the knoll but later changed their story to match the "official version".
On this subject, Galanor writes, "A second issue to consider is: How diligent was the Warren Commission in obtaining the Witnesses' accounts?". He goes on to cite three witnesses who were never asked their opinion as to the direction of the shots and who fingered the grassy knoll area.
Most of the discussion in this section is reserved for the notes made by Secret Service agent Glen Bennett. In his notes reported to have been made around 5:30 p.m. (before the autopsy), Bennett said he saw one shot strike JFK "four inches down from the right shoulder" and subsequently saw the fatal head shot hit "the right rear high". The WC mentioned Bennett in their report, giving substantial weight to his observations. According to Galanor, "A more demanding Commission would have examined photographs of the assassination to see if Bennett was at least looking at the President when the shots were fired. Alas, photographs taken by witnesses show Bennett looking off to his right toward the knoll long after he claimed to have turned to look toward the President".
Galanor maintains that the government never interviewed several reporters who witnessed the assassination and the HSCA analysis is therefore incomplete. Galanor's own analysis of the 216 grassy knoll witnesses shows the following:
32% were not asked where the shots came from.
37% thought the shots came from the grassy knoll.
32% thought the shots came from the TSBD.
24% could not tell where the shots came from.
4% thought the shots came from both the knoll and the TSBD.
3% named a location other than the knoll or TSBD.
The infamous "Backyard Photo" controversy draws considerable attention from Galanor who reports, "Doubts about the photograph's authenticity increased when several variations were published". Galanor notes the verdict by the HSCA photography panel that the photos were genuine. He counters that by stating, "A distinguished independent photographic expert differed with the House Committee's findings". Galanor then relates the BBC interview of Malcolm Thompson, a Scotland Yard Detective, in which Thompson said that the photos were forgeries based on the shadow differences. He goes on to cite several more examples of evidence that the photos are fakes.
Cover-up examines many of the now familiar issues associated with the alleged killer of JFK. These include the paraffin test, the palmprint found by the Dallas police but not by the FBI, Howard Brennan, Marina Oswald, and Oswald's mail-order rifle. Galanor concludes his brief study of Oswald with the following equally familiar questions: "Why was an avowed communist in the Marines sent to a secret air base where super-secret U-2 planes were launched? Why was a Marxist in the Marines given a proficiency test in Russian? Why did embassy officials in Moscow fail to arrest a former Marine threatening to divulge military secrets? How did the CIA fail to debrief a former defector to the Soviet Union? How could a communist living in Texas manage to have only right-wing acquaintances?".
Any book on the assassination of JFK seeks to "finish with a flourish" by divulging new information or at least putting a new spin on old data. Cover-up is no exception to this rule, and Galanor has selected the analysis of the JFK autopsy x-rays by Dr. David Mantik for this purpose. Mantik, a radiation oncologist and physicist from Eisenhower Memorial Hospital in California, published the results of his work in the controversial book Assassination Science edited by James Fetzer. Mantik studied the JFK x-rays using a technique called "optical densitometry" and concluded they were altered. Additionally, Mantik claims to have discovered a 6.5-mm object on one of the President's frontal x-rays that went unreported by Commander Humes and his associates. Finally, using a CAT scan of a person with "upper chest and neck dimensions the same as President Kennedy's", Mantik tries to show that a person receiving the wounds of JFK would have suffered a shattered spine. Galanor concludes, "With one simple stroke, Dr. Mantik had scientifically disproved the lone assassin theory".
With Cover-up, Galanor offers a concise treatment of the undeniable discrepancies that exist in the JFK case today. Lone assassin theorists will no doubt find many areas in the book to challenge and may point out that some of the anomalies in the evidence are probably benign in nature. The major contribution of Cover-up is likely to be Galanor's own analysis of the 216 grassy knoll witnesses. To his credit, Galanor has omitted many discredited theories and misrepresentations of fact that weaken similar volumes. He is also to be credited for presenting a substantive discussion of the medical evidence without using some of the more graphic autopsy materials. In this regard, Cover-up would be an excellent tool for even younger students wishing to familiarize themselves with the issues that may suggest conspiracy. On the down side, he asks many questions, only some of which he attempts to answer. Ultimately, it will be up to each reader to decide if the puzzles of the JFK assassination are the evidence of a conspiracy or the result of an inadequate autopsy, mistaken eyewitness observations, and various other innocuous slip-ups. On that score, Galanor leaves the reader with no doubt as to where he stands.