A Dartmouth faculty member claims to have shown that a “backyard photograph” of Lee Harvey Oswald appears to be authentic based upon his study of the shadow of the nose. But the nose shadow is only one of many indications of fakery, including that the chin is not Oswald’s chin, there is an insert line between the chin and the lower lip, the finger-tips are cut off, and more. I have sought to alert the Dartmouth administration about the problem, to no avail.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:
If [the backyard photographs] are invalid, how they were produced poses far-reaching questions in the area of conspiracy, for they evince a degree of technical sophistication that would almost necessarily raise the possibility that [someone] conspired not only to kill the President, but to make Oswald a patsy.
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:
Date: Sun, 08 Nov 2009 09:47:48 -0600 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: President’s.Office@Dartmouth.edu Subject: About Hany Farid: A Modest Proposal . . .
Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D. Dartmouth College Office of the President 207 Parkhurst Hall Hanover, NH 03755
Dear President Kim,
As you are no doubt aware, a member of your faculty, Hany Farid, has entered into a long-standing dispute over the authenticity of photographs–know as “the Oswald backyard photographs”–related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A summary of his claims, which are creating a sensation with some segments of the public but dismay among serious students of the photos and films, may be found at The Huffington Post:
Unfortunately there are multiple photos and multiple indications that they are faked, where Farid’s analysis dealt with only the shadows of one. He clearly had not taken the time to conduct a search of the literature or he would have discovered that there are at least three photographs, not just one, and that oddities about shadows are only one of many indications of fakery. Presenting only evidence favorable to your position is known as “special pleading”, which I spent 35-years teaching freshmen to avoid.
Even if he were right about the specific shadows on which he chose to work, that could not possibly justify the claim that the “photo” is authentic, because he did examine other shadows in the original nor the many additional features of concern to serious students of JFK. Farid has thus violated a basic canon of scientific research, which is that all the available evidence that makes a difference to a conclusion must be taken into account.
Farid did a digital study of a non-digital photograph. Various features may have been obscured in the process of transformation. The chin of the figure in the “backyard photographs” is a block chin, not Oswald’s chin, which was rather pointed and had a cleft. There is a clear insert line between the chin and his lower lip, and his finger tips appear to have been cut off. There are many features beyond the shadows he studied that indicate these photos were faked.
This, alas!, is not the quality of research that the public expects of a member of the faculty at Dartmouth. Here is a summary addressing two of the photos–there turn out to have been at least three, as Farid could have found simply by googling “the Oswald ‘backyard’ photographs”–including testimony that Jack White, a legendary photo-analyst, presented to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) when it reinvestigated the case in 1977-78 but which it chose to disregard:
In 1992, I organized a research group of the best qualified individuals to ever study the case, including Robert B. Livington, a world authority on the human brain and an expert on wound ballistics; and David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., who is board-certified in radiation oncology, who would discover that the JFK autopsy X-rays have been altered and who has become the world’s leading expert on his death. Our objective was to take rumor and speculation out of the case and place its study on an objective and scientific foundation.
Other members of this group included Charles Crenshaw, M.D., who was present during efforts to revive JFK at Parkland Hospital and then, two days later, was responsible for the treatment of his accused assassin, Lee Oswald; Jack White, whom I have mentioned above; and John P. Costella, Ph.D., whose specialization is electromagnetism and who is the leading expert on the Zapruder home-movie in the world today. He has a tutorial about this at
A professional philosopher of science and former Marine Corps officer, I have chaired or co-chaired four conferences on the death of JFK and have published three collections of studies by experts on different aspects of the case. My books feature the research of Livingston, Mantik, Crenshaw, White, Costella and others. I maintain web sites that discuss the case at assassinationscience.com and at assassinationresearch.com, a journal for advanced study of the death of JFK that I currently co-edit with John Costella.
Among my many lectures about JFK, including ones at Harvard, Yale, and Cambridge, the Cambridge lecture was peer-reviewed and published in the International Journal of the Humanities. It addresses the simple question of where JFK was hit in the back: at the base of the neck, as THE WARREN REPORT (1964) asserts, or about 5 1/2 inches below the collar? This is a simple question with vast ramifications. It is entitled, “Reasoning about Assassinations”, and is also easily accessible via google.
The answer to this question resolves the long-standing debate about the so-called “magic bullet” theory, on which the government’s official account depends. During a conference on JFK held at the University of North Dakota, “John F. Kennedy: History, Memory, Legacy”, 25-27 September 2008, I addressed what we know about the assassination and made a Powerpoint presentation to show the evidence that I was discussing.
The papers from the meeting have been published as a book, which has been made available on-line for ease of access. As an indication of the seriousness of the event, the keynote speaker was Theodore Sorensen, who was JFK’s most important aide. I turned my Powerpoint into my chapter, which discusses our findings in relation to the physical, medical, and photographic evidence. It can be downloaded as a pdf.
I was introduced by John Tunheim, now a federal judge in Minneapolis, who served as the chair of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), a five-member civilian panel with the authority to declassify documents and records related to the assassination from the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and other agencies. They succeeded in declassifying some 60,000 documents and records, where their work is discussed in MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000).
I feature one of the backyard photos already on the second page of my chapter, including a proof of fakery by Jack White based upon the newspapers that the figure is holding, whose dimensions are known. They show that this person is only 5’6″ tall, while Oswald was 5’10” tall. If Hany Farid had conducted a search of the literature, he should have easily discovered it.
My purpose in writing, however, is to suggest that Dartmouth has a unique opportunity to contribute to the public interest by resolving this issue. It would be unfortunate if the college were to have its reputation permanently tarnished by Farid’s research. If you consider it appropriate, I recommend creating a panel to review his work, settle the issue, and thereby reaffirm Dartmouth’s integrity. If you decide to do this, let me know if I can help.
Incidentally, I should mention that, after founding the journal, MINDS AND MACHINES, which I edited for ten years, I invited Jim Moor of your Department of Philosophy to succeed me. We co-edited the journal for a year, after which Jim has been editing it on his own–and doing an exceptional job! You are welcome to ask him about me, since (although it is hard to believe) we have known each other for more than 35 years!
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:
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2009 11:57:36 -0600
From: email@example.com To: President’s.Office@Dartmouth.edu Subject: The Dartmouth JFK-Photo Fiasco
Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D. Dartmouth College Office of the President 207 Parkhurst Hall Hanover, NH 03755
Dear President Kim,
Having written to you about a matter of importance in relation to the reputation and integrity of the institution over which you preside, I have been acutely disappointed to have received no acknowledgment of my letter, in which I offered a modest proposal for redeeming what can be redeemed of Dartmouth’s involvement in this photographic fiasco. I have now co-authored an article about it with Jim Marrs, author of CROSSFIRE (1989), one of the principal sources for the film “JFK” by Oliver Stone, which we have recently published in OpEdNews,
The Dartmouth JFK-Photo Fiasco by Jim Fetzer and Jim Marrs
where a google search on the title discloses a certain degree of interest,
[NOTE: Here I included the first two pages of a google search on this article.]
There is more, but I presume you get the idea. This has cast a considerable cloud over the reputation of the institution you head. A new study, moreover, demonstrates that even Farid’s research on the shadow was not properly done:
Now it is my understanding from this article that Hany Farid receives funding from the FBI, which misled the nation–at the direction of J. Edgar Hoover–about the state of evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It is my suspicion that the FBI suggested to Hany Farid that he should publish a piece on the “backyard photographs” in furtherance of its efforts to confuse the public regarding what is known about the true causes of the death of JFK.
As the president of an institution I have long admired, I hereby request that:
(a) you formally acknowledge the receipt of this and my previous letter to you;
(b) advise me as to what concrete steps you intend to take to straighten it out.
As a graduate of Princeton ’62, I would note that this, alas!, is not what most would regard as an appropriate example of “Dartmouth in the nation’s service”.
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2009 09:10:56 -0500 From: “President’s Office” To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” Subject: RE: The Dartmouth JFK-Photo Fiasco
Dear Professor Fetzer,
Thank you for writing to President Kim. I regret the delayed response to your first email. Your emails have been shared with the Dean of the Faculty for Arts & Sciences for review. The Dean or her designee will then respond to you as soon as possible.
Office of the President
(IV) My reply to the acknowledgment:
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009 15:01:34 -0600 From: email@example.com To: “President’s Office” Subject: RE: The Dartmouth JFK-Photo Fiasco
Thank you very much for an acknowledgment of my inquiry regarding this matter. There is much interest in fakery of this kind, where a famous Canadian journal, GLOBAL RESEARCH, has picked up our study and published it with the title, “JFK Assassination. False Flag Attacks: How “Patsies”are Framed – The Case of Lee Harvey Oswald” by Jim Fetzer and Jim Marrs.
Here’s a URL, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16224 in case President Lee might enjoy reading it. I have also been sent an article about Professor Hany Farid’s association with the FBI from THENEW YORK TIMES, October 2, 2007, “A CONVERSATION WITH HANY FARID: Proving That Seeing Shouldn’t Always Be Believing” by Claudia Dreifus. I would be glad to forward a copy if the Dean or the President would like to have it.
(V) Response from the Acting Provost and Dean of the Faculty:
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 10:14:42 -0500 From: “Carol L. Folt” To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” Subject: Photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald
Dear Professor Fetzer:
President Kim has referred to me your e-mail of December 10, 2009 concerning Professor Hany Farid’s analysis of a photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald.
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.
Carol L. Folt Acting Provost and Dean of Faculty Dartmouth College
(VI) Email to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees:
Date: Fri, 08 Jan 2010 11:19:11 -0600 From: email@example.com To: Marcia.J.Kelly@Dartmouth.edu Subject: Inquiry . . .
I understand that you are the secretary to the Broad of Trustees. I am a retired professor of philosophy from the University of Minnesota Duluth, who has some material that I would like to share with the members of the board. Could you please advise me as to the steps that need to be taken in order for that to be done? I would be glad to make hard-copies and to send them to you for distribution, for example, if that is appropriate.
(VII) Response from the Secretary to the Board of Trustees:
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2010 14:48:04 -0500 From: “Marcia J. Kelly” To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” Cc: “Kimberly Watson” Subject: RE: Inquiry . . .
Dear Professor Fetzer,
You can send your document to me at the address below and I will be happy to share it with our Board Chair, Mr. Charles Edward Haldeman Jr. He will, no doubt, consult with President Kim and make a decision about sharing your materials with the full Board. If it is easier, please feel free to send me an electronic copy.
Marcia J. Kelly Secretary to the Board of Trustees Dartmouth College Hinman 6001 Hanover, NH 03755
Jack White on “The Many Faces of Lee Harvey Oswald”