- WASHINGTON -- Military officials who publicly questioned the investigation
of Commerce Secretary Ron Brownís death are finding that the action
has affected their careers.
- On April 3, 1996, an Air Force jet carrying
Brown and 34 others on a trade mission to Croatia crashed into a mountainside.
Last December, allegations first surfaced about the ensuing investigation.
- Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell, a
forensic pathologist assigned to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology,
alleged that a circular hole found at the very top of Brownís head
resembled a .45-caliber gunshot entry wound and should have prompted an
autopsy. No autopsy was conducted. Cogswell participated in the investigation
but was at the crash site when Brownís body was being examined in
- After Cogswellís concerns were
made public, another AFIP pathologist, Army Lt. Col. David Hause, came
forward to concur that the wound looked like a gunshot and should have
prompted an autopsy. Hause examined the wound on Brownís head after
it was discovered during an external probe of the corpse.
- A third AFIP pathologist, Air Force Maj.
Thomas Parsons, later publicly agreed with Cogswell and Hause that the
head wound was suspicious. Parsons, who participated in an AFIP internal
review of the case, also declared that no ruling on cause of death could
be made without an autopsy.
- While acknowledging that the hole did
cut through the skull to Brownís brain and had several characteristics
of a gunshot, AFIP has maintained that an object from the plane, not a
gunshot, caused it. AFIP and Col. William Gormley, the doctor who conducted
the external examination of Brownís corpse, insist there was no
exit wound and no metal fragments inside the head, proving there was no
- Navy Chief Petty Officer Kathleen Janoski,
head of AFIPís forensic photography unit, was present when Gormley
examined Brownís body. She recently told WorldNetDaily that she
did not believe a thorough examination took place.
- Janoski also alleged that another AFIP
staffer told her months later that original head x-rays showing metal fragments
had been destroyed.
- For Janoski and the three pathologists,
life in the military has changed greatly since they went public.
- Cogswell, for the first time in his 10-year
career in the Air Force, has been given a negative performance evaluation.
Cogswell received his annual rating late last month -- more than six months
- The evaluation states that Cogswell is
ìdisruptive to the work environment with immature behavior.î
He has been ìunresponsive to counseling,î it continues, adding
that he has used ìinappropriate languageî and worn ìinappropriate
dress.î Cogswell is even criticized for his manner of driving in
the AFIP facilityís parking lot.
- The belated report bears three signatures,
including those of Armed Forces Chief Medical Examiner Jerry Spencer and
AFIP Director Col. Michael Dickerson. The signatures are not dated.
- Cogswell told WorldNetDaily the negative
evaluation has ended the possibility of future promotion.
- In previous annual performance reviews
Cogswell shared with WorldNetDaily, he received nothing but sterling evaluations
-- including reviews signed by Dickerson and Gormley.
- Just a year earlier, Dickerson and Gormley
noted in an evaluation that Cogswell had been cited as ìthe number
one forensic pathology consultant in the Department of Defense.î
- The report also stated that Cogswell
was ìan extremely capable officerî who was given ìthe
- ìHis professional acumen is incomparable,î
the report continued, adding that Cogswell was ìan exemplary officer
and outstanding physician.î
- In an evaluation in 1995 signed by Gormley
and Dickerson, Cogswell was called AFIPís ìexpert on gunshot
- Dickerson recently ordered Cogswell,
Hause, Parsons and Janoski to cancel their planned attendance at the American
Academy of Forensic Sciences conference earlier this month in San Francisco.
The annual meeting is the most important of seminars attended by AFIP staff
for professional development. All other AFIP staff were permitted to attend.
- Just weeks after Janoski went public
about the Brown case, she and her staff of three photographers were told
to vacate their offices in the AFIP medical examinerís facility
in Rockville, MD. The photography unit was relocated to another AFIP office
in Washington, D.C.
- Chris Kelly, spokesman for AFIP, denied
that any form of retribution has taken place.
- He said Cogswellís negative evaluation
was ìnot a retaliationî since it covered a period before Cogswell
made his comments on Brown.
- Kelly confirmed that trips were canceled
to the American Academy conference, but said the reason was ìan
internal matter for the institute.î
- He said Janoskiís unit was transferred
because ìthey have a lot of skills they need to keep up with,î
and added that the unit would continue doing photography work for AFIP.
- Cogswell told WorldNetDaily he is ìabsolutely
certainî AFIP actions were caused by his comments on the Brown case.
Janoski said those actions indicate the military is fearful about the controversy.
Hause previously described the situation at AFIP as a ìSalem atmosphereî
referring to the witchcraft trials that took place in Salem, MA.
- Judicial Watch, a public interest legal
group headed by former federal prosecutor Larry Klayman, represents two
of the military officials involved in the case. Last week, Judicial Watch
filed a petition with the three-judge panel that oversees independent counsels,
asking that Daniel Pearson, who had been investigating Brownís business
dealings at the time of the crash, be given new jurisdiction to investigate
the controversy involving the death itself.
- Klayman said he plans to warn officials
at AFIP and the Pentagon not to take punitive actions against any of the
personnel who have spoken out.
- ìThis campaign of fear and intimidation
against these courageous military people could be construed as obstruction
of justice and witness tampering,î he told WorldNetDaily.
- ìAn independent counsel could
prosecute senior officials for bothering with these whistle blowers,î
he said, adding that retaliatory actions ìwill not stop the truth
from coming out.