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July 5, 2007

Bugliosi on Pitzer
by Allan Eaglesham

What words best describe
Vincent Bugliosi's
coverage of the death
of LCDR William B. Pitzer
on pages 560-563 of the
endnotes for Reclaiming History?

Unscholarly, inaccurate, incomplete,
shoddy, biased...

Instead of discussing the salient features of the case, Bugliosi attacks the veracity of the "messenger," Dennis David, who stated in a Waukegan, Illinois, News-Sun article in 1975 that he believed that Pitzer had been murdered in October 1966, possibly because of what he (WBP) knew of President Kennedy's wounds. The lawyer impugns Dennis David's honesty on the grounds that authors Harrison Livingston and Robert Groden stated that David claimed to have been present at the autopsy on President Kennedy's body (whereas his name is absent from the HSCA list of those present). Here are the quotes from Livingstone and Groden [1].

        "Dennis David, a medical corpsman present at the autopsy, was..."
        "Dennis David, a witness at the autopsy, said..."

Livingstone and Groden provided no source for this claim. We have to take them at their word, and Bugliosi is happy to do so because it suits his purpose.

In stark contrast, on June 6, 2007, Dennis David informed me:

        "Bugliosi indicates that I told Livingstone that I was in the morgue during the autopsy.
        That is an absolute lie.
        I have never told anyone that I was inside the autopsy room that night.
        In fact, I have always been certain to state that I was not present."

What checking did the lawyer do on the claim by Livingstone and Groden that David said he had been in the autopsy room? Did he phone Livingstone? Did he consult with Groden? Naah -- he asked photographer John Stringer. This may seem fair inasmuch as Mr. Stringer certainly attended the JFK autopsy, but Bugliosi admits that Stringer told him that he didn't know David. No matter; the lawyer is happy to conclude that Dennis David lied about being present at the Kennedy autopsy on Stringer's assurance that David's duties as chief-of-the-day would have confined him to the Medical School office.

When Dennis David gave telephone testimony to the Assassination Records Review Board, he revealed information that, according to Bugliosi, "he apparently never told [author David] Lifton or Livingstone," i.e. that he saw in William Pitzer's possession photographic materials including a movie film generated during the autopsy on President Kennedy's body. The lawyer concludes that "it's clear that David is incapable of telling the same story twice in this matter." The fact is, however, the 1975 News-Sun article is cited in books by both David Lifton and Harrison Livingston and it quotes David as saying that Pitzer "filmed the autopsy of President Kennedy" and that he "saw slides of Kennedy's wounds." Furthermore, Livingstone's High Treason 2 [2] quotes David as follows:

        "I do know that [Bill Pitzer] had a film in his possession at one time"
        When he and I looked at a portion of the film, we remarked only on the
        extent of injury, apparent point of entry, etc.
        Bill also had some 35 mm slides which...I assumed were excerpts from the film."

Dennis David's recollections have been consistent since 1975. His telephone number is in the white pages. I just checked -- it took seconds to find it on the internet. Why didn't Bugliosi call him? An investigator worth his salt would have. To impugn a man's character on the basis of shoddy work and unsourced statements is disgraceful. It speaks to the accuser's own integrity.

The main reason that Dennis David suspected that William Pitzer had been murdered was that he heard through the grapevine that his mentor had died of a gunshot wound to the right temple, whereas he believed that Pitzer had been left-handed. Although it emerged eventually that Pitzer had been right-handed, new information indicated murder. The autopsy report described a hole in the skull bone in Pitzer's left temple in addition to the fatal entry wound to the right temple with an exit wound above and slightly behind the left ear. Other information indicated that Pitzer had sustained a bullet wound to the left temple. Clearly, two bullet wounds to the head would be indicative of homicide rather than of suicide, the official verdict [3]. Although all of this information is detailed in articles that have been on the internet for years [4], Bugliosi fails to understand the significance of the left-temple defect. He credits Walt Brown [5] as revealing that the Pitzer autopsy photographs "showed no wound in [or near] the left temple." The words in brackets -- "or near" -- are added by the lawyer, and one has to wonder why because the exit wound was near the left temple. I am at a loss to interpret this and conclude that Bugliosi has grasped the wrong end of the stick and doesn't know what he is talking about.

Bugliosi uses Kent Heiner's book [6] as his main source of information on the death of William Pitzer. That is his prerogative, but it is noteworthy that much more information on the specifics of the case is available on the internet [4], free of charge. It is noteworthy also that the URL for the Pitzer website is provided in Heiner's book. It is noteworthy again that the information on the internet makes the case that William Pitzer had in his possession a movie showing President Kennedy's body on an autopsy table that was generated via closed-circuit television [7]. The lawyer doesn't touch the issue of closed-circuit television -- a special part of Pitzer's duties -- and is too close-minded to deal with the fact that an open-minded "conspiracy theorist," on appraisal of new information, decided against the pro-conspiracy theory and concluded that William Pitzer committed suicide [4].

Vincent Bugliosi isn't interested in the important implications of the Pitzer matter. He decided from the outset that it was a convenient vehicle for kicking "conspiracy theorists." Don't bother him with the facts; he has already made up his mind.

[1] The sources quoted by Bugliosi are Groden and Livingstone, High Treason, pp. 124 and 229. However, if you look for Dennis David's name on these pages, you will not find it. The actual source is Livingstone and Groden, High Treason, pp. 124 and 229, i.e. the expanded version of High Treason published in 1998.
[2] Harrison Edward Livingstone, High Treason 2 1992 p. 557.
[3] Two naval investigations into Pitzer's death concluded that he had committed suicide. Bugliosi cites one of these, stating that the conclusion that the gunshot wound was self-inflicted was "consistent with conclusion of John G. Ball, the Montgomery County medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Pitzer." The lawyer is wrong again. The Pitzer autopsy was done at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, by Lieutenant Commanders J.G. Harmeling and W.B. Lowsma. This information has been available for 9 years at https://manuscriptservice.com/Pitzer/Article-2.html.
[4] https://manuscriptservice.com/Pitzer/
[5] Walt Brown edits JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly (https://manuscriptservice.com/DPQ/) and writes extensively therein. However, the article to which the lawyer refers here was written by me, not by Dr. Brown. Please see footnote [1], another example of inability to get simple source facts straight.
[6] Kent Heiner, Without Smoking Gun, Trine Day 2004.
[7] Since William Pitzer wasn't present during the autopsy, Bugliosi judges it impossible that he could have had possession of a movie film showing the body of President Kennedy.

William Pitzer and Dennis David ca. 1965.

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