Second Expert: Ron Brown's
Wound Appeared To Be Gunshot
By Christopher Ruddy
From Robert Boudreau
WASHINGTON - A second Armed Forces medical examiner has stepped forward to publicly confirm key statements made by a colleague about the death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Hause (pronounced "hoss"), a deputy armed forces medical examiner, told the Tribune-Review he personally examined a suspicious head wound on Brown's corpse while it was being examined at Dover Air Force Base, Del. He said several allegations made by Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell in a Tribune-Review article last week are true. Hause also expressed criticism of the military's treatment of Cogswell in the wake of that article.
Hause and Cogswell, both members of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, participated in AFIP's investigation of the April 1996 military jet crash in which Brown and 34 others died.
Cogswell has alleged that when Brown's body was examined by military medical personnel, a wound that could have been caused by a gunshot was discovered at the very top of Brown's head.
Cogswell was not present at Dover when the wound was examined, but Hause was.
According to Hause, his examination table was only two tables away from the one on which Brown's body was laid out. "A commotion" erupted, he said, when someone said, "Gee, this looks like a gunshot wound." Hause said he left his examination table to view the wound.
He remembers saying, "Sure enough, it looks like a gunshot wound to me, too."
He said the wound "looked like a punched-out .45-caliber entrance hole."
To the best of his recollection, Hause said he never discussed the wound with Col. William Gormley, the pathologist examining Brown's body, nor did he review any X-rays.
In last week's article, Cogswell called the wound "as close to a perfectly circular hole as you can get." He based his description on discussions with colleagues and his review of records, photographs and X-rays.
"Essentially ... Brown had a .45-inch inwardly beveling circular hole in the top of his head, which is essentially the description of a .45-caliber gunshot wound," Cogswell said.
Cogswell referred to the hole as an "apparent gunshot wound," but also said, "Whether it's a bullet or something else, we don't know."
Hause agreed the wound appeared perfectly circular, which is consistent with a high-velocity impact caused by a bullet. Neither Cogswell, who has been involved in more than 100 plane crash investigations, nor Hause, who has been with AFIP for five years, could remember finding a similar wound in a plane crash victim's head.
Both contend that while parts of the plane could certainly pierce the skull during a crash, the resulting hole probably would be left jagged or irregular after the object entered and exited the skull.
Hause is considered one of AFIP's leading experts on gunshot wounds. He served as an Army combat infantryman in Vietnam, where he received a Purple Heart. He left the service for a brief stint as a police officer, but rejoined to become a medical pathologist. Hause said he has been involved in autopsy procedures since 1972.
Before joining AFIP, Hause spent two years as division surgeon for the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, including duty as a surgeon during the Gulf War. He also served as the Army's regional medical examiner in Germany.
No autopsy was conducted on Brown's body. Gormley, the assistant armed forces medical examiner who conducted the external examination of the corpse, contends the hole definitely wasn't a bullet wound. With no suspicion of foul play, he said he didn't have authority to order an autopsy of the civilian.
But Cogswell said the wound should have prompted an autopsy since it raised the possibility of homicide. In such a case, Brown as a member of the Cabinet would have been covered under the Presidential Assassination Statute.
Hause agreed that "by any professional standard" an autopsy should have been conducted on Brown's body, but said he understood that "political and administrative" factors made it difficult for one to be conducted. Even so, he suggested that Gormley should have consulted with superiors to get authority, or if that was impossible, sought permission from the next of kin. After viewing the wound, Hause said he did not pursue the issue or investigate further. "I made the presumption the reason (Gormley) concluded it wasn't a gunshot wound, (and) therefore there was no need to go further, was that he looked at the X-rays" and found no evidence of a bullet, Hause explained. He described Gormley as a competent pathologist, but added that Gormley's experience is more in airplane crashes and less in gunshot wounds.
Gormley, who has approximately 25 years' experience in pathology, has stated he did review X-rays and found no evidence of bullet fragments or the fired slug itself, and no sign of an exit wound all indications that pointed away from foul play. Cogswell suggested, and Hause agreed, that since a bullet may have entered at the very top of Brown's head, it could have traveled down his neck and lodged itself somewhere in the body. Hause said he examined one chest X-ray and found no evidence of a bullet.
But the primary evidence cited by Gormley that the hole was not caused by a bullet was that the circular hole "didn't go all the way through the skull." He described the hole as having "no open communication with the inside of the head" no brain was visible, and the "punched out" bone defect had simply been depressed into the skull but was still visible, covering the brain.
Gormley acknowledged that had the hole actually gone through the skull to the brain, it would have raised suspicion. "You wouldn't want to have that. It's not good," he told the Tribune-Review. Because the hole did not puncture the skull, Gormley said, it was likely not created by a rod, but rather by a rivet or some fastener that was part of the plane.
Cogswell, the AFIP pathologist sent to the crash site in Croatia, disputes the idea that any part of the plane could be found to account for the hole. He also has argued that a photograph of the wound contradicts Gormley because it shows that the hole did go through to the brain.
Additionally, Cogswell and another expert consulted by the Tribune-Review said a side X-ray indicates a "bone plug" from the hole displaced under the skull and into the brain. Hause's eyewitness examination also contradicts Gormley. "What was immediately below the surface of the hole was just brain. I didn't remember seeing skull" in the hole, he said. Hause concluded that the piece of skull "punched out" by the impacting object had displaced into the head.
Cogswell has also alleged that an initial X-ray of Brown's head showed tiny metallic fragments, which he said could be consistent with a "lead snowstorm" resulting from a disintegrating slug. Cogswell alleges this X-ray was replaced with other X-rays that did not show the possible fragments.
Cogswell has a photographic image of the initial X-ray, as does the Tribune-Review.
In a press report released after last week's article, the Air Force contended "the alleged `bullet fragments' were actually caused by a defect in the reusable X-ray film cassette" and that "medical examiners took multiple X-rays using multiple cassettes and confirmed this finding."
Cogswell and another AFIP source also have alleged that all of the original X-rays of Brown's head, which were supposed to be in the case file, have disappeared.
Hause confirmed that for the Tribune-Review. Last Friday, Hause explained, he was asked to review the Brown case file with Dr. Jerry Spencer, the AFIP's chief medical examiner. They laid out all of the X-rays and discovered that, indeed, no X-rays of Brown's head remained.
Hause said he was also ordered to collect all photographs taken of Brown at Dover. These photos, stored in a safe, should have included photographs of the X-rays. But after compiling an extensive inventory of the negatives, Hause could find no original photo negatives of the head X-rays. They, too, had disappeared.
According to Hause, all that remains of the head X-rays are photographic slide images in the possession of Cogswell and copies of images possessed by the Tribune-Review.
Hause said the disturbing facts raised by Cogswell, including the missing X-rays, have not drawn an appropriate reaction from AFIP officials.
"It looks like the AFIP is starting its usual procedure of, upon receiving bad news, immediately shooting the messenger," Hause commented in reference to administrative actions taken against Cogswell in recent days.
Cogswell received a letter late last week informing him that he was under internal investigation, that he could not leave the area of his office without permission an order one AFIP member likened to "House arrest" and that he was not to speak to the press.
On Friday, Hause said a commotion developed in the office when a military police officer showed up and asked Cogswell to accompany him to Cogswell's home to retrieve all slides and photos in his possession relating to AFIP cases.
"One of the things I'm wondering is why all the attention is focused on Cogswell, who never had the original X-rays," Hause said.
He said Cogswell's allegations should have precipitated a review of AFIP's handling of the Brown case, both from within the office and from outside consultants, rather than an investigation targeting Cogswell.
Hause noted Cogswell had made his concerns about the Brown case known during slide programs at professional conferences. AFIP, Hause said, has "encouraged" and "directed" staff pathologists to conduct such programs using previous case materials, including photos and X-rays. He said there was no need to seek prior approval either to use previous case material or to discuss previous cases.
Based on AFIP's actions last week against Cogswell, "The question you have to ask yourself is: Are (officials) upset that AFIP may have blown a case, or are they upset the American public found out that AFIP may have blown a case?"
After negative publicity of AFIP's actions surfaced Friday, Cogswell told the Tribune-Review the agency has backed down slightly. He said he is now allowed to speak to the press, as long as it happens during off-duty hours.
Contacted for comment Monday, Gormley referred all questions to AFIP spokesman Chris Kelly. Kelly said he didn't expect any of the questions to be answered by the end of the day.

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