Report from Washington
By Donald W. Stacey
A summary of a telephone conference with Chief Petty Officer Kathleen Janoski USN conducted by a group of concerned citizens.
On Wednesday, October 28, 1998, a group of citizens from various parts of the country talked with Kathleen Janoski. Chief Petty Officer Janoski was the Chief of the Forensic Photography Division at the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner in the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology ("AFIP") and a 22-year veteran of the Navy. The subject of the discussion was the hole in Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown's skull that looked like a bullet hole.
On April 3, 1996, while transporting Mr. Brown and 34 others, an Air Force CT-43 executive transport crashed near Dubrovnik, Croatia. Thirty three of the bodies, including Ron Brown's, were flown to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where they were examined by AFIP personnel. At the time of the crash, Mr. Brown was under investigation by the Office of Independent Counsel (Mr. Daniel Pearson was the Special Prosecutor) and was under subpoena to produce documents concerning the sale of seats on trade missions in a civil law suit by Judicial Watch.
The official determination of the cause of Mr. Brown's death was blunt force trauma as a result of the plane crash.
On November 24, 1997, shortly after the Air Force released a voluminous report of its investigation of the crash, an article concerning the report was published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. On December 3, another article included statements by one of the pathologists on the AFIP team, Lt. Colonel Steven Cogswell (USAF), that there was a perfectly round hole, inward-beveled, in Mr. Brown's skull that looked like a bullet hole. However, no autopsy was performed.
On December 5, Cogswell was put under a gag order. At about that time, he was escorted to his home by military police who seized all case materials on the Brown case.
On December 9, Lt. Colonel David Hause (U.S. Army) another AFIP pathologist and a leading expert on gun shot wounds, confirmed Cogswell's statements. The gag order was broadened to include all AFIP personnel.
On January 8, 1998, the Department of Justice reported that it had looked into the matter and saw no reason to launch an investigation. No one from DOJ talked to Cogswell or Hause.
On January 9, the Washington Post reported that the AFIP had convened a review panel of all its pathologists that had unanimously concluded that Brown died of blunt force trauma and that the hole was not a gunshot wound. But Cogswell says he refused to participate in the review and that the only pathologists with expertise in bullet wounds dissented (i.e. himself, Hause & Major Thomas Parsons of the USAF).
Shortly after the Post article, Major Parsons came forth to indicate his dissent to the so-called "unanimous" board conclusion.
On January 13, a fourth member of the AFIP team, Chief Petty Officer Janoski, came forth to confirm the account of the skull hole. She further indicated that she had been told by Jeanmarie Sentelle, a Special Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, that x-rays of Brown's skull had been destroyed after the "lead snowstorm" was discovered. According to Sentelle, a "lead snowstorm" on x-rays is caused by bullet fragments when a bullet disintegrates upon impact.
Also on January 13, Cogswell, Parsons, Janoski and Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch met with Congressman John Conyers, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Caucus is composed of 30 Congressmen, all Democrats. The Caucus called for a Congressional investigation and was supported by the NAACP, the Nation of Islam and Dick Gregory.
On February 12, a Petition to Order Continuation of the Independent Counsel's Investigation into Matters Related to Former Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The NAACP and Dick Gregory filed documents in support of the petition. Apparently the court declined to decide the matter and referred it to Mr. Pearson for action. No action has been taken.
Although the mainstream media was eerily silent about most of the developments outlined here, Black Entertainment Television and Christian Broadcasting Network and a few others provided some coverage. Talk radio has provided coverage of the matter. Unfortunately most people know nothing about the hole in the skull.
A collection of articles appears at:
Janoski's duties included photographing the bodies from head to toe. Beginning at the head of Ron Brown, she saw a perfectly round hole in his skull. She said something to the effect "Wow. That looks like a bullet hole." She immediately was "shushed" by Colonel William Gormley, the AFIP pathologist examining Brown's body. She repeated her statement and was again "shushed." Hearing her comment, others in the room came to Brown's body and looked at the hole. The hole was viewed by Hause, Gormley, Commander Edward Kilbane (USN) - all pathologists - and Lt. Colonel Craig Mallak who was doing his residency in pathology. There may have been other personnel in the room who saw the hole as well. Janoski's photo of the apparent bullet hole can be viewed on the internet at"
On the light box at the morgue were x-rays of Brown's skull which were photographed by Janoski. Ironically, her purpose in photographing the x-rays was to test the light meter in her new camera rather than record evidence. The photos of the x-rays became critically important when the x-rays apparently disappeared. The Brown files contain 15 x-rays of other parts of the body and the file cover indicates that there are 15 x-rays, indicating that the file is intended to support the conclusion that no skull x-rays were taken.
While photographing Brown's body, Janoski was urged to hurry by Bob Veasey, AFIP investigator working with Colonel William Gormley, referring to "White House pressure."
On the Friday following the crash but before the bodies had arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Kilbane, the team leader, attended a meeting at the West wing of the White House (where the Oval Office is located). On Saturday, a memorial service was held for Brown. President Clinton spoke. On Sunday (Easter) the bodies were examined by the AFIP team.
Cogswell did not view the hole in the skull as he was dispatched to the crash site in Croatia soon after the bodies arrived at Dover. While in Croatia, he was called by Gormley who asked that he check the wreckage to see what might have caused the hole that he described to Cogswell. Cogswell responded to Gormley that, as described, it sounded like a bullet hole. Cogswell checked the wreckage and photos were taken of objects that might have caused such an injury but nothing was found that could have been the cause of the hole. Gormley's call to Cogswell came after Brown's body had been embalmed and released for burial.
Gormley initially stated that the wound was not a bullet hole because it did not penetrate the skull and because the brain was not visible. Later he reversed himself saying that the skull was penetrated and that Brown's brain was visible. He also confessed that no autopsy was ever requested "[based on discussions at the highest level from in Commerce, at the Joint [Chief of Staff] and the [Department of Defense], the White House ."
Although it seems clear that there is a perfectly round, inward beveled hole measuring .45 inches in Ron Brown's skull and that no autopsy was performed, the media has failed to inform the American people about this matter. From pictures of skull x-rays, it appears that that there may be metal fragments in the skull. Apparently the x-rays have been destroyed and official records now indicate that there never were any. Colonel Gormley indicated that the decision not to have an autopsy was made with participation by the White House. It is important that as many people as possible see this report.