Sunday, December 20, 2009
Fascinating New Video from the 1945 Yalta Conference. The Memoir of Col. Joseph Gregory Mayton.
The video is an oral history of Col. Joseph Gregory Mayton, who was chief of the Russian division of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, predecessor to the CIA). Mayton attended the 1945 Yalta conference as translator for and liason of General George Marshall and was recruited by virtue of his fluency in the Russian language.
Being the super-spy that he was, he was aware of the repression and atrocities perpetrated by Stalin and was anti-communist. This resulted in his being "blackballed" for an official position in Moscow and it is clear that the Soviets had a docier in him since, as you will see, they "knew about him" at Yalta.
Most importantly, he took his camera with him and shot video of the conference, combining it with that taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps into a remarkable 30 minute film that contains large amounts of previously unseen footage. Some of the video, obviously outtakes, shows FDR in a state never before publicly seen, something that would never have been permitted during his lifetime.
By way of background, Mayton was born in 1897 in Russia, emigrated in 1918, spent some time in Houston (where he knew LBJ as as schoolteacher) and had some academic connection with LSU prior to his time in the service. He was discharged in October 1945. He was married, probably had no children and died in Altanta at the ripe old age of 97. This video was made in 1988, when Mayton was nearly over 90 years old, but he most definitely "has all his marbles" to put it in neurological parlance.
There is only one glaring factual error in the video, FDR's whereabouts in March 1944,but that is really not diminish the importance and credibility of Mayton's dialogue.
The host of the film, Ted Baehr, is presently director of a fundamentalist Christian film reviewing organization, but this is really all about Mayton.
The video is in five parts since one can only put 10 minute segments up on You Tube (thank goodness for 21st Century technology).
I hope you enjoy this fascinating, unique and informative historical document as much as I did.
ps. We have just (1-7-10) acquired Mayton's de-classified OSS file from the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. I was made aware of it by the most accomodating President of the OSS Society, Charles Pinck (http://www.osssociety.org/) and sent my great researcher, Tim Frank, there to retrieve it. It confirms everything we know about Mayton and, among other things, reveals that he had one child, a daughter, who, if she is still alive, would be around eighty years old.)
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Saturday, October 31, 2009
A New and Important Find
Friday, October 16, 2009
The Margaret Suckley Diary
By perusing the entries chronologically, one can appreciate a story within itself, documenting the true story of the deterioration of FDR's health as seen through the eyes of one who loved him intensely and without qualification.
FDR shared many of his inner thoughts with Daisy, yet, by no means, all of them. Even with this "Closest Companion", he was far less than candid about his deadly secret, often leading the medically unsophisticated spinster to her own research.
It is through Daisy that we learn about Harry Setaro (aka Harry Lenny) who was permitted to massage the president by virtue of his contacts with her. One untold piece of history only recently came to light. A 1945 check made out to Daisy by FDR to reimburse her for paying Setaro.
FDR probably considered Setaro nothing more than a harmless amusement. He was far too medically sophisticated, especially with respect to polio, to believe that this retired boxer had any possiblility of improving his condition, though Daisy appears to be convinced of his value. Of course though, even Daisy had no real idea of the true nature of most of FDR's medical problems.
Geoffrey Ward's book "Closest Companion" is essential reading to any serious FDR enthusiast.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The Tale of FDR's Handwriting
"He never told the truth, when a good lie would do"
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Early Scar
Sunday, October 4, 2009
How Deep was the Cover-up?
On the face it, a simple x-ray report on an unknown patient, this document tells many stories.
Found in the archives of the Franklin D. Roosevelt library, it is one of the relatively few surviving medical records of the President. Exactly why Ross McIntire decided to separate this one from what must have been countless others is a matter of speculation, but we can make a highly educated guess.
It is dated January 10, 1940. Just about the time a reknowned cancer doctor, Reuben Peterson, sent a friendly letter to FDR mentioning his concerns about the pigmented lesion over his left eye- a wake-up call that it something must be done so that it didn't raise concerns among other, less well-intentioned, observers. Roosevelt was about to attempt what no man had ever done, run for a third term as president, and even the slightest whiff of suspicion that he had a malignant disease would spell an abrupt end to that lofty ambition.
The handwritten annotations and typed interpretion were by Dr. Charles Francis Behrens, the navy's top radiologist. At the time, radiologists performed the dual function of interpreting films and treating patients, mostly with cancer, with radiation therapy. He was at the top of his field in both, authoring many scientific papers and editing the first textbook on the effects of radiation on the body, Atomic Medicine, in 1948. He would also be an integral part of the diagnostic team put together to treat Roosevelt in 1944, as noted by Howard Bruenn in his 1970 paper. Every existing x-ray report of FDR carries Behren's signature. Whatever was really wrong with Roosevelt, Behrens knew. His interpretations were the portal that all others relied on.
The films were taken at the White House and transported to the Naval Hospital in the nearby foggy bottom section of Washington (near the site of the present-day Vietman memorial) by Mcintire's right hand man, George Adam Fox, to be read by Behrens. The text of the interpretation is revealing.
"View of the siuses (sic) in the Caldwell position shows the antra and the ethmoids to be fairly clear. The frontals do not show well but there is possibly some haziness on one side. The turbinates are swollen on the same side. The lateral view of the frontal sinuses is negative."
There is no secretarial signature at the bottom. That, the fact that no patients name appears, the mis-spellings and hand-written annotations indicate that Behrens generated the entire dociument himself. Even with an anonymous patient, it was far too sensitive to be seen by anyone other than Ross McIntire.
The most telling aspect of the report are the words "on one side" and "on the same side". This is most definitely intentional, since leaving out such an essential point of information as the side of the pathology is something that any trained radiologist would never purposefully do. Almost surely, the problematic side was the left one but any written mention of the side of FDR's problem was strictly verboten.
In summary, this fascinating document is more evidence that their was an active cover-up of Roosevelts melanoma as early as January 1940.
Friday, October 2, 2009
FDR and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda
FDR took a special interest in the center, choosing the site and providing a rough design of the building. He laid the cornerstone in 1938.
This video comes from the website of British Pathe www.britishpathe.com , the best and most accessible repository of FDR videos in existence. I showed it as part of my lecture on FDR's health at NNMC as the inaugural lecture in the Surgeon General's Lecture Series on FDR's health on November 7, 2007. An ongoing debt of thanks is due to surgeon general VADM Adam Robinson and naval medical historians Jan Herman and Andre Sobocinski.
FDR's Cooks: Henrietta Nesbitt and Daisy Bonner
FDR and Harvey Cushing
Cushing at left, Betsey at far right
The correspondence between these two giants was documented in this 2001 paper:
Ironically, FDR and Cushing had another connnection. At the outset of FDR's fatal brain hemorrhage on April 12, 1945, Roosevelt's blood pressure soared to 260/150, a phenomenon seen as a consequence of a rapid elevation in intracranial pressure (basically, a reflex effort by the body to maintain blood circulation to the brain). This was first described by Cushing in 1902 and is known as the the Cushing response or Cushing's phenomena.
H. W. Cushing: Some experimental and clinical observations concerning states of increased intracranial tension. American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Thorofare, N.J., 1902, 124: 375-400
Thursday, October 1, 2009
When did they know?
I found the caption on this 1937 photo intriguing. As soon as I saw that FDR was avoiding the press because of a "sty" in the eye, it raised suspicion that perhaps something else was being treated. Further research yielded the fact that, of course, it was the left eye that had the "sty".
After four years of researching this incredibly deceptive man, one thing becomes entirely evident- no public statement about his health can be taken at face value.
All of the stories of "sinusitis" "flu" "intestinal flu" "grippe" "swamp fever" must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Knowing what we do tells us that we really don't know very much at all.
Could they have been treating FDR's melanoma as early as 1937? Of course, but there is not a shred of direct evidence. Then again, there is not a shred of evidence that it was ever treated and we know with absolute certainty that it was.
Any review of the pages and pages of visits to the White House doctor's office, essentially daily from late 1938, the mysterious trips and voyages, and the plethora of known deceptions we have already uncovered, tells us that we have only begun to unravel the many layers of smokescreen.
The most exciting prospect of this book getting wide attention is that we have one last opportunity to "shake the tree" (without Dr. Bruenn to squelch it, as he did quite successfully in 1979). We are most excited to see what fruit may fall out.
See for yourself. Here is the 1979 TIME magazine article published following the release of Harry Goldsmith's paper. Note, in particular, Dr. Bruenn's response. It is easy to see now that the keeper of FDR's deadly secret was lying through his teeth, but its taken fully thirty more years before we can finally expose these comments for what they were.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
FDR and Poker
(Walter Trohan, Political Animals, p. 68)
Roosevelt was a great bluffer and a driver in command of the game, calling on this person to ante up, bet or fold up. Nothing delighted him more than a successful bluff, although he never seemed to suspect there was some hesitancy to win on the part of most of his opponents, including his staffers. He was most unhappy when one of his bluffs failed, almost childishly so. My delight was getting a pair, back to back at stud poker, a great favorite for him, and calling his bluff. One of the first signs of his declining health came when he became vacant and forgetful at the poker table and often had to be invited to make his play.
(Robert Jackson, That Man, p. 143)
Hopkins was uniquely lucky and played his cards for everything there was in them. Secretary Ickes, like myself, was not a particularly colorful player. Watson was a rather careless player, bent on thorough enjoyment of the game rather than results. Dr McIntire was a keen player and thoroughly intelligent.
The President studied the players as much as he did the cards. We often caught him bluffing but throughout the trip there was a marked peculiarity in his playing. Invariably he lost the early part of the game and we would have him down several dollars. Invariably he made it up in the last three or four hands of the evening. We finally told him that the only way we could beat him was to break up the game and we were going to arrange to have a fire call about four hands before the finish.
(Samuel Rosenman, Working With Roosevelt, p. 148.)
The President thought he was a good poker player. That opinion, however, was not shared by all those who played with him- and some of them should know. He lost more often than he won. All of us took particular pride and joy in winning from him, and nothing pleased him more than to win from us. As the president grew older, Doc McIntire insisted that the number of hours of card playing on his birthday be cut. From the all-night sessions which used to take place in Albany, they gradually shrunk to 4 A.M. then to 2 A.M., and finally, much to the President’s disgust, to midnight. He would complain about quitting early, but on a glance from Doc we would all insist, and if necessary just get up and quit.
(Navy Nurse Barbara Lint, oral history describing a visit to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Potomac Currents, V. 2 no. 3.)
She remembers a time when he wheeled himself...unannounced … into the solarium where a taboo poker game was going on. Instead of a dressing down, the men were surprised by FDR’s request to be dealt in.
The following comes from wordsmith and father of two world-class poker players, Richard Lederer.
Because of paraplegia brought on by his polio, Franklin D. Roosevelt was unable to relax by taking long walks or playing golf or tennis. But he often had dinner with his poker-playing pals and then adjourned to a marathon session of cards. His favorite game was seven-card stud. Among the regulars were the Vice President, Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Secretary of Commerce, and at least one Supreme Court Justice. The President's secretary, “Missy” LeHand, served cocktails and often played in the game. One of the rules was that nobody could discuss anything serious at the evening poker sessions. The only thought was how to outfox the other players.
From Doris Kearns Goodwin: During the war, he'd relax with marathon poker games with his cabinet. The only thing he thought about was how to beat these guys in poker. There's a story about an annual poker game he held on the night that Congress was supposed to adjourn. There was a rule that whoever was ahead at the moment that the speaker called to say Congress was adjourned would win the poker game.
Well, he's playing one year, and it turns out that when the speaker called at 9:30, Roosevelt was doing terribly and his secretary of the treasury, Morgenthau, was way ahead.
So Roosevelt took the phone and pretended it was someone else on the line. "Well I'm so glad you're calling, but we're in the middle of a big poker game." Then they kept playing and playing until finally around midnight Roosevelt pulled ahead. He whispered to an aide, "Bring me the phone." So he says into the phone, "Oh, Mr. Speaker, you're adjourning. How fine!" Then to his friends, "Well, boys, I guess I win!"
Everything was great until Morgenthau read in the newspaper the next day that Congress had adjourned at 9:30. He said he was so angry he actually resigned for a few moments until the charm of Roosevelt persuaded him it was all in fun.
The 1941 Transfusions and 1944-45 Weight Chart
The first slide documents the abrupt rises in hemoglobin level that are absolute confirmation of at least nine transfusions FDR received in 1941. The is no other physiologic explanation. Bruenn's notion that the anemia responded to Iron therapy, like many other of his assertions, is not viable.
The second slide is a chart of FDR's weight in 1944-1945. The solid line is documented in Bruenn's paper. The dotted line is a reasonable estimate based on the countless reports of ongoing weight loss seen during three years of research.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Some Additional Reading
Harry Hopkins' medical biography, written by Dr. James Halsted
An absolutely definitive account.
The earliest known description of the embalming of FDR in the hand of the embalmer, F. Haden Snoderly
Walter Trohan's article in the Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1945
Monday, September 28, 2009
Doctor Roosevelt and his Magnificent Obsessions
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The Early Show, Featuring Ross McIntire
Honorary Consultants and Frank Lahey
The myth that McIntire was incompetent and did not use adequate expertise in treating FDR has not been adequately refuted. Ross McIntire did what he did at the behest of his commander in chief, knowingly and unselfishly sacrificing his future reputation for the sake of the duty and honor of his position.
Here's the article I (SL) wrote for Navy Medicine in his defense.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The Right Answer for the Wrong Reason
Here is the slide that started it. Even more coincidentally, the fatal tumor is in the right parietal lobe of the brain, just like the one that was the source of the hemorrhage that killed the President.
The Gospel According to Bruenn
Now you see it.... Now you don't!
Take a look for yourself:
November 7, 1938
September 4, 1939
September 30, 1940
It is just not possible to determine when, and how many times, the lesion was operated upon by Ross McIntire. A few days were needed away from the glare of the public and press for the area to calm down after being surgically manipulated in some fashion. There were many opportunities for this to have happened. Many of the daily visits to the White House doctor's office were likely devoted to treating and soothing the area, which surely must have been chronically inflammed. Much of the "sinus" treatment was probably just another smokescreen necessitated by the deadly secret.
What can easily be seen, though, is by the time of the "Arsenal of Democracy" speech on December 27, 1940, even accounting for the use of make-up (pancake makeup was invented by Max Factor in 1935), the lesion is noticibly lighter. Also, note again, that FDR's hands do not leave his side.
After this, the difference is unmistakable. In all videos from 1941 and forward, the lesion is, at most, a faint shadow of scar tissue.
Amazingly, what had been a prominent facial feature had disappeared without any public notice. Only one record exists that the pathologic potential of the lesion was noticed at all- the January 1940 letter of Reuben Peterson (see the book for details).
March 18, 1941
November 3, 1941
As stated by the eminent dermatologist, the late A. Bernard Ackerman, in our paper in the Archives of Dermatology, there are only too possibilities, based on physical characteristics, that this lesion could be: Solar Lentigo (aka sunspot or senile keratosis) or Melanoma. Even more relevant, while rarely these lesions may spontaneous regress, the natural history of either of them is incompatible with its disappearance over so short a time.
To read the entire paper: http://www.scribd.com/doc/14660879/Derm-Article
Therefore, within any degree of medical probability, the lesion was intentionally removed. What you have just seen is the unequivocal objective evidence of that removal!
Friday, September 25, 2009
January 6, 1945. The Smoking Gun Video
Here is a color still photo of the speech.
In contrast, here is a video of FDR speaking in October 1944, less than three months prior to the State of the Union video. There are a few minor stumbles, but his hands remain at his side. The contrast is remarkable.
On March 1, 1945 FDR give the worst performance of his life during his speech to congress, deviating from the prepared text, (according to the New York Times, 49 times, we never counted) due to a primarily left sided visual deficit. On April 12, he died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage emanating from the right posterior portion of his brain- the area that controls the left side of vision.
Do FDR's Medical Records Exist? The Case For.
In fact, the bulk of the medical records that do exist document the only incident, in our mind, that Ross McIntire was indeed asleep at the wheel, permitting FDR's hemoglobin to fall to the nearly fatal level of 4.5 grams in May 1941 (America was perilously close to President Henry Wallace at that time). So I ask, if Ross Mcintire didn't destroy those records to cover his real mistake, why would he later destroy records to cover himself?
One possible reason they weren't destroyed is that Eleanor already knew about it, as witnessed by her strikingly specific letter to Anna at the time the problem occurred (so much for the myth that she didn't care about "physiology"). She would never have even found out that much if FDR didn't tell her himself, most likely because neither he nor his doctors actually knew the reason why it occurred and didn't feel it was related to the deadly secret (though it most likely was- to our thinking, induced as consequence of the radiation he received).
The story of the famous safe at the hospital, and who had access to it, is well known, as per Howard Bruenn's version (the only one anybody ever quotes, as per the 1970 "gospel"). The story is in the book, but we are still unclear as to why the records that McIntire supplied to Eleanor were only the selected ones we have examined.
As an opposing view, there is a strong case to be made that the records were not destoyed. The prime evidence here is FOIA file DFI-1259, obtained by Ken Crispell and Carlos Gomez for their 1985 book "Hidden Illness in the White House" (see p. 254).
Ken Crispell has died and Carlos Gomez (currently a hospice physicisn in the Washington, D.C. area) has no idea where the original document is. The document, dated November 17, 1981, from the chief legal officer of the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda states unquivocally that FDR was a patient there 29 times and lists all the known aliases FDR was treated under!
Considerable efforts to locate the legal officer have not met with success. Many of the aliases on the document correspond to those on existing records, but others do not, and some documents have names that are not on the list, most notably F. David Rolph, that appears on nearly all the documents from the time of the anemia in 1941 (though close names, like Rolph Frank, for which we have no records, are on the list).
The obvious question: Where did the chief legal officer get the information from? There is only one answer- the allegedly "lost" medical file.
More corroboration for the exisistence comes from numerous conversations with a physician who was at Walter Reed in the late 1970's. The physician wishes to remain anonymous, but, trust me, he/she, who we shall call Dr. X, exists and appears credible.
As the story goes, Dr. X was nosing around the hospital at the time working on another project (prune bellies, to be exact) and came across a VIP file that intrigued them. It had various reports and x-rays, some of which were photocopies, with different names though all with the same accession number! This immediately aroused Dr. X's suspicion that they were those of FDR. Upon further inspection, they appeared to be of someone who was being treated for, among other things, a urological malignancy.
Included in these records was a retograde pyelogram (see "John Cash" in the previous post) showing an abnormality of the left kidney (ibid). Also noted incidentally was a severe metastatic lesion eroding the L3 vertebral body and that the level was somewhat difficult to surmise due to the presence of a "transitional vertebra".
Aside from the fact a the metastatic lesion of the spine would be quite consistent with either melanoma or prostate cancer, it provides an alternative explanation for the severe pain FDR was experiencing at Bremerton, Washington in August 1944 and even moreso for the incident described by son James at his fourth inauguration in January 1945.
If one looks at the John Cash letter, Dr Reuter also describes an anomaly of the left kidney and "six lumbar vertebrae" another term for a transitional vertebra, a fairly rare developmental anomaly of the spine. Therefore, either this is one of the greatest coincidences in medical history, or Dr. X was looking at FDR's x-rays!
The alternative take to Howard Bruenn's story is that the records do indeed exist and are not destroyed, but presently lost under one of FDR's many assumed names or no name at all. If they are anywhere, they are in St. Louis at the national records center (That's where all documents older than 10 years wind up these days).
When thinking about the whereabouts of FDR's medical records, I envision the last scene from George Lucas' great film "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
The records are right next to the holy grail!!!!