Madison, WI (OpEdNews) -- When The Huffington Post (5 November 2009), headlined, "Hany Farid, Dartmouth Scientist, Says Controversial Oswald Rifle Photo Real", I and every other serious student of the assassination of JFK knew that something was terribly wrong. I might as well have been reading that Lonardo had not painted the Mona Lisa. It was that blatantly false. Jack White, a legendary photo-analyst, had even testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) when it reinvestigated the case in 1977-78, about more than a dozen indications of fakery. Some were subtle, but many were not. The chin was not Oswald's chin; there was an insert line between the chin and the lower lip; the finger-tips of his right hand were cut off; the stance seemed unstable; across several different poses, the face remained exactly the same! Everyone seemed to know the photos were fake except for Hany Farid!
When I learned that Hany Farid was an expert on the analysis of photo fakery, I found the situation even more puzzling. He had focused only on the shadow of the nose under a single photograph, since its constancy across different photos would have exposed the fraud as well. Indeed, it was obvious to me that Hany could not have performed the first stage of a serious research project, namely: a search of the literature to discover what previous research had been done on the "backyard photographs", which would have revealed that he could not possibly be correct. I continued to be dumbfounded about the improbability that a competent photo analyst could have plunged into the deep end of the pool without searching the literature when I received, "Proving that Seeing Should Not Always be Believing", The New York Times (2 October 2007), which explained that he performed work for the FBI. At that point in time, the situation acquired a certain degree of clarity.
Having chaired or co-chaired four national conferences on the death of JFK and edited three books with contributions from the most highly qualified experts who have ever studied the case and given hundreds of interviews and lectures on the subject, I was astonished that a Dartmouth professor would be offering a "song and dance" about photos that have been repeatedly proven to be fakes, as Lee Oswald himself observed during his interrogation. So another expert on JFK, Jim Marrs, the author of CROSSFIRE: THE PLOT THAT KILLED KENNEDY (1989), and I co-authored "The Dartmouth JFK-Photo Fiasco" (18 November 2009) to expose the fraud. To appreciate the magnitude of the issue, we quoted the words of Robert Blakey, who is now a professor of law at Notre Dame, but who had served as Chief Counsel to the HSCA, and had spoken to the committee about the forensic significance of the backyard photographs. Blakey observed on that occasion:
As a graduate of another Ivy-league college, Princeton '62, it bothered me tremendously that this faculty member at Dartmouth appeared to be abusing his position for the benefit of a special interest, which appeared to me to be that of the FBI. The role of the FBI in covering up the crime was all too familiar to most of us, but not to the American people. If Hany Farid, as I surmised, was actually performing a service for the agency, then it ought to be brought to the attention of the administration of the college. Accordingly, I wrote to President Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D., on 8 November 2009, to explain my concerns and to offer "a modest proposal" to extricate Dartmouth from this problem, When I did not hear back from him by 10 December 2009
-- after Jim Marrs and I had published our article about it -- I wrote again and included a link, along with indications it was being picked up by many internet sources and receiving a certain degree of interest. On 14 December 2009, I received a note saying a dean would respond.
Two days later, on 16 December 2009, I received an email from Acting Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Carol L. Folt, which stated, "As with most colleges and universities, Dartmouth College does not take institutional responsibility for the scholarly activities of individual faculty members. While we have no reason to doubt the validity of Professor Farid's research, he alone is responsible for it. If one scholar takes issue with another's research methods or conclusions, the traditional vehicle to express such concerns is through the open scholarly literature." This was precisely the kind of response that I had expected, which, however, was completely inadequate to this situation for a number of reasons:
(i) the backyard photographs had previously been thoroughly investigated and had been proven to be fakes by many experts across decades;
(ii) any scholar approaching the subject for the first time would appreciate the necessity of conducting a search of the literature, which would reveal as much;
(iii) Hany Farid was a highly-qualified expert, well-versed in the evaluation of the authenticity of photographs, and a faculty member at an Ivy-league college;
(iv) he treated the issue by focusing on the shadow of a single photo of a set of at least four, and then studied only a very specific feature of that photo;
(v) even if he had been right about the nose shadow - and there are reasons to doubt that he was - he could not possibly have authenticated it on that basis;
(vi) the photo, after all, would be authentic only if all of its features corresponded to the features that an authentic photo would possess;
(vii) where, as I have observed, the chin is not Oswald's chin; there is an insert line between the chin and the lower lip; and so on, which he did not address;
(viii) far from having committed an amateurish "mistake" by not conducting a search of the literature, this appears to have been a carefully contrived study;
(vix) the only apparent beneficiary of a carefully contrived study of the photo(s) would be agencies of the government who are trying to obfuscate the evidence;
(ix) Hany Farid has known ties to the FBI, which is such an agency, where I have been advised that his photo research laboratory is actually funded by the agency;
(x) which means that, in presenting his research as though it were objective and unbiased, he has deliberately mislead the American people and even Dartmouth;
(xi) where the public relations aspect of disinformation operations of this kind is paramount -- and I cannot imagine any other objective that is achieved by its publication;
(xii) which means that this is not a normal matter of "scholarly research" or of "academic freedom", but is an abuse of his standing as a faculty member;
(xiii) where the submission of an article disputing his would take on the average approximately two years from authorship to publication, as a rough estimate;
(xiv) which means that the public would have received the impression that the photo was genuine, based upon his standing and the reputation of Dartmouth;
(xv) which contributes to the goal of these operations -- not to convince anyone of a specific position but to obfuscate what is known and thereby confound the public.
In my judgment, Hany Farid has performed a disservice to the nation and the reputation of Dartmouth has been stained. President Jim Yong Kim is a very accomplished scholar, who has even been recognized by being the recipient of a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation. I presume that Dean Folt is also an accomplished scholar. But this is not rocket science and anyone who takes a look at the article Jim Marrs and I published or others that we cite would know that something is terribly wrong at Dartmouth. I have discussed this with a former member of the Board of Trustees, who confirmed my suspicion that I am being given a "run around". Since I have been informed by the Secretary to the Board of Trustees that any issue I would like to raise with the board would first be discussed with President Kim, I have no doubt that he is right, which is why I am publicizing our correspondence which, as anyone can see, is principally mine.
After all, like the warning signs that come with prescriptions, anything that comes from Hany Farid ought be accompanied by an acknowledgment to the FBI as its sponsor, when that is indeed the case, as a matter of "informed consent". Then the public will at least be in the position to evaluate the source without simply taking for granted that it bears the imprimatur of Dartmouth College. Princeton has the motto of "Princeton in the nation's service". But I don't think it carries over to the abuse of position by faculty members to support the dissemination of disinformation on behalf of the FBI. It should not take a genius to observe that no alternative explanation appears to be reasonable. Under the circumstances, were I among the alumni of Dartmouth College, I would want to know more about what's going on here and why the President has cast aside my modest proposal:
(I) Initial email to President Jim Yong Kim:
The backyard photograph, which was published in LIFE, was a fake. His finger tips were cut off; the shadows from his nose and eyebrows were inconsistent with the shadow cast by his figure; the chin was not Oswald’s pointed chin with a cleft but a block chin with an insert line. Jack White used the newspapers as an internal yardstick and discovered that either the person shown was only 5’6” tall--too short to be Oswald, who was 5’10”--or the image of the newspapers was too large.
(II) Second email to President Jim Yong Kim:
(III) An acknowledgment from Dartmouth:
(IV) My reply to the acknowledgment:
(V) Response from the Acting Provost and Dean of the Faculty:
(VI) Email to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees:
(VII) Response from the Secretary to the Board of Trustees:
Jack White on "The Many Faces of Lee Harvey Oswald"