- 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.
- PRESENT FOR EXAMINATION
- 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
- 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.
- SEVERITY DISPUTED
- 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.
- X-RAY EVIDENCE
- 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
- 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.
- HOUSE ARREST
- 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
- 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
- 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.