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The Botched Ron Brown Investigation

An Interview with AFIP Forensic Photographer Kathleen Janoski

by Wesley Phelan

Former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown died on April 3, 1996, in a plane crash near Dubrovnik, Croatia. Thirty- four persons accompanying Brown on the trade mission also died in the crash. Due to the efforts of Judicial Watch we now know beyond a reasonable doubt that seats on Brown's Commerce Department trade missions were sold to raise funds for the Democratic National Committee and the 1996 Clinton/Gore Campaign. There is overwhelming evidence that Bill and Hillary Clinton knew of and approved this improper and illegal fundraising scheme [1].

Even more serious than the sale of public property for campaign contributions is the likelihood that transfers of American technology, approved and overseen by Ron Brown's Commerce Department, breached national security. Bernard Schwartz, head of Loral Corporation and a major donor to the DNC, accompanied Brown on a 1994 trade mission to China. During this trade mission Brown set up a meeting between Schwartz and a Chinese government official. This meeting led to a transfer of American missile technology to the Chinese that is now the subject of a congressional investigation [2].

At the time of his death Ron Brown was under subpoena to produce documents relating to the sale of seats on trade missions to Judicial Watch for its suit against the Commerce Department. Nolanda Hill, a friend and business partner of Brown, testified under oath that Brown had shown her a collection of such documents in an ostrich skin portfolio. These documents were withheld from Judicial Watch in violation of the subpoena and a FOIA request. Just before his death Brown reportedly said of his mounting legal troubles, "I am too old to go to jail. If I go down, I'll take everyone else down with me" [3].

The suspicious circumstances surrounding the crash of Brown's plane have given rise to much speculation of foul play [4]. Making Brown's death even more suspicious is the fact that a perfectly round .45 inch inwardly beveling hole was discovered in the top of his head as his body was being processed by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP). The story of the hole in Brown's head broke on November 24, with a report by Christopher Ruddy in the Pittsburgh Tribune- Review. Ruddy reported that Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell, a deputy medical examiner with AFIP, questioned the official finding that Brown died of multiple blunt- force trauma as a result of the airplane crash. Cogswell, who did not personally examine Brown's body, based his suspicions on x-rays and photographs of the top of Brown's head. Also suspicious, according to Cogswell, was the fact that the original x-rays of Brown's head showed possible metal fragments in the brain, consistent with a high-velocity gunshot wound. The two head x-rays are missing from Brown's file and Cogswell suspects they were never placed in the file [5].

On December 5, 1997, AFIP imposed a gag order on Cogswell, forcing him to refer all press inquiries on the Brown case to AFIP's public affairs office. Cogswell was told he could leave his office only with the permission of Dr. Jerry Spencer, Armed Forces Medical Examiner. He was escorted to his house by military police, who seized all of his case materials on the Brown crash. If matters had remained there we could dismiss Cogswell as a rather eccentric fellow willing to jeopardize his military career by making wild accusations. But on December 9, 1997, Lt. Col. David Hause, another AFIP pathologist, came forward to corroborate Cogswell's story.

Hause, one of AFIP's leading experts on gunshot wounds, was present in the room when Brown's body was being examined. A commotion erupted when Chief Petty Officer Kathleen Janoski said "Wow, look at the hole in Ron Brown's head." Hause walked over and verified that the wound penetrated the skull, exposing brain matter. According to Hause, the wound "looked like a punched- out .45-caliber entrance hole." After Hause spoke to Ruddy, the AFIP gag order was broadened to include all AFIP personnel.

On January 8, the Justice Department announced it had found no reason to launch an investigation into the case. The next day a story by Michael Fletcher appeared in the Washington Post. Fletcher reported that AFIP had convened a review panel of all its pathologists, including Cogswell and Hause. Fletcher said the panel came to the unanimous conclusion that Brown died of blunt-force trauma and that the hole in the top of Brown's head was not a gunshot wound.

Unfortunately for Fletcher, his story misrepresented what happened in the review panel. What actually happened, according to Cogswell, is that he refused to participate in the review because he thought it would not be fair and unbiased. His lawyer concurred with his decision. In fact, most of those participating in the review were not board-certified in forensic pathology. Of those who were certified, none had significant interest or experience in gunshot wounds. All of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's forensic pathologists with any expertise in gunshot wounds (Cogswell, Hause, and Parsons) dissented from the "official" opinion [6].

On January 13, yet another member of AFIP joined the ranks of the dissenters. Kathleen Janoski, a 22-year Navy veteran, was the head of AFIP's forensic photography unit. Janoski says she was told that missing evidence from the Brown file was purposely destroyed. Janoski originally declined to speak to the press about the matter, but finally came forward out of concern for the careers of Cogswell, Hause, and Parsons. She was stunned that the AFIP inquiry focused on the actions of the whistleblowers instead of on the botched examination of Brown's body. Janoski says a naval criminal investigator told her the original x- rays of Brown's head "showed a lead snowstorm." Janoski then located photographs she had taken of the original x-rays and gave them to Cogswell to review. That is how the story began.

In the following interview by The Laissez Faire City Times, Janoski gives a detailed account of the events surrounding the botched investigation into Ron Brown's death and the subsequent efforts by AFIP to punish the whistleblowers.

QUESTION: According to published reports, Lt. Col. Cogswell said the original x-rays of Brown's head showed possible metal fragments in the head consistent with a gunshot wound. Is that true?

JANOSKI: The original x-rays, which I thought were the only set of x-rays, showed what appeared to be metal fragments inside the skull, similar to a bullet breaking up. I photographed those x-rays when they were up in the light box.

QUESTION: AFIP's explanation for that was that the x- ray cassette was defective. One of my relatives is a radiologist. I asked him about that some months ago. He said he thought it was possible that could be the explanation. What is your response?

JANOSKI: That cannot really be the explanation because it only surfaced after Chris Ruddy broke the story. Lt. Colonel David Hause was one of the forensic pathologists who were examining the bodies and doing whatever autopsies were going to be done. At no time did anyone come up to him and say, "We have this problem with the x-ray cassette and you need to be on the lookout for it."

QUESTION: Would that have been standard procedure - - if you were having a problem with an x-ray cassette someone would have given the pathologists a heads-up to discount any recurring pattern or problem like that?

JANOSKI: Well, I would expect a little more attention to detail than that. If it was indeed a defective x- ray cassette they should have just thrown it in the trash. Since not all the bodies were getting autopsies, and since the examination results were going to be based on x-rays, if they truly did discover this problem with the x-ray cassette Dr. Hause would have been apprised of that, and he was not. Cogswell, Hause and I all talked about this. But this phony explanation about a defective x-ray cassette did not surface until Ruddy broke the story.

QUESTION: So you don't believe the story of the defective x-ray cassette?

JANOSKI: No. About 6 months after the crash I had a conversation with Jeanmarie Sentell, a naval criminal investigative agent. She told me the first set of head x-rays on Ron Brown were deliberately destroyed because they showed a lead snowstorm. I said, "What are you talking about?" She explained to me what a lead snowstorm is: metal fragments breaking up from a bullet. And she proceeded to tell me that the first set of x-rays was deliberately destroyed and a second set was taken. The exposure was changed in an attempt to eradicate or diminish the metal fragments.

When I went on the record with Ruddy, he put that in the story in an article on January 13. He called Sentell and told her what I was saying. I believe she had no comment, or said she could not comment. So she was aware of what I had told Ruddy.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to her since?

JANOSKI: No, because once that story broke I was ostracized. I was the last one to go on the record. They weren't treating me that well, but not as bad as Cogswell, Hause and Parsons.

QUESTION: Who is "they"?

JANOSKI: The Armed Forces Medical Examiner, Dr. Jerry Spencer. Also, a lot of people in the office were avoiding me. There were two factions in the office, and you knew who was on which side in this issue.

Anyway, it was at that point, after the NCIS agent told me this that I went back to my office and pulled out the 35 millimeter slides I had taken when the x-rays were up on the light box. I had photographed them when they were in the light box. I had done that because I was testing out the exposure system on my Nikon F4. It has three exposure systems. I had just gotten out of the FBI Academy for a 2-week school for police photography. It was drilled into our heads to shoot the hell out of everything. If you ever have a doubt about the value of a particular photo, take it anyway. You might see something you think is innocuous at a crime scene, but it may be important later. Film is cheap. All these concepts were drilled into our heads. So I was taking a lot of pictures of this particular crash, or rather, the events at Dover.

I also told Larry Klayman at one time that something had bothered me about this crash. It was a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. One of the things that bothered me was we had a dead cabinet member, but some people seemed to think it was not a big deal. But you don't get a dead cabinet member every day.

QUESTION: Did Ms. Sentell tell you who destroyed the first x-rays?

JANOSKI: No. She didn't tell me.

QUESTION: Did she tell you if she saw them being destroyed?

JANOSKI: No, she didn't tell me that.

QUESTION: So she might have seen it or she might have only heard about it? Or she could have even been the one who destroyed them?

JANOSKI: All of those are possible, yes. She is a sworn law enforcement officer. She was telling me that a piece of evidence was destroyed. I was so stunned by it. I was also stunned when she said there was another set of x-rays. The only set I saw was the one up in the light box in the morgue. If there truthfully was a second set taken, I don't know when that happened. It would have to have been after Ron Brown's body left the morgue. When his body was in the morgue, and his x- rays were up in the light box, they didn't take his body out of the room. And nobody said to me, "We are going to take this body because we need a second set of x-rays."

QUESTION: Where did Ron Brown's body go after it left the morgue?

JANOSKI: When I saw it leave the morgue it went over to the next room, where the bodies are embalmed. I didn't see it actually get embalmed. But I saw the gurney being rolled over there.

QUESTION: Could it have been taken from that room to be x-rayed again?

JANOSKI: This is only my opinion. I would think that if another set of head x-rays were taken, it was probably then, when it left the morgue.

QUESTION: When it left the morgue to go into the other room?


QUESTION: What is the other room called?

JANOSKI: That was the embalming station. At Dover there are stations. The first station is intake; the second was FBI fingerprinting; the third was dental; the fourth was full body x-ray. There was no number five. Six was the morgue area; seven was anthropology, which was in the morgue. Eight was embalming; then dressing and wrapping; then casketing.

QUESTION: What was anthropology?

JANOSKI: We have a forensic anthropologist. If we have a crash with total body fragmentation, he will try to match up what's there.

QUESTION: That was not necessary in Ron Brown's case, was it?

JANOSKI: Oh no, Ron Brown's body was intact.

QUESTION: Was Ron brown's body found in a crawling position?

JANOSKI: From what I understand he was found outside the plane on the rocks and the underbrush. He was in a "dead cockroach" position.

QUESTION: Was he lying on his back?

JANOSKI: He was on his back in the photograph I saw. His arms and legs were up in the air. Perhaps he landed outside of the plane on his stomach. Maybe someone came by and turned him over on his back. It was as if rigor mortis had set in, with the arms and legs slightly up.

QUESTION: Does that sound like a natural death pose for a person, lying on your back with your arms and legs up, because that's the way you fell out of the plane?

JANOSKI: Well, you'd have to ask Cogswell that question, because he's the plane crash expert. But to me this isn't a natural death at all. They found he died of blunt force injury, but even that is not accurate. You need an autopsy to get the precise cause of death.

QUESTION: How many x-rays are in Ron Brown's file currently?

JANOSKI: There are 15 x-rays in Ron Brown's file - - arms, legs, pelvis, stuff like that. He had a broken pelvis, but when you look at the x-rays actually in his file, none of the injuries were serious enough to kill him. That's especially why Ron Brown needed an autopsy. He might have an internal decapitation, a ripped aorta, or bleeding into the chest cavity. That's why you do autopsies - - to find out the exact cause and manner of death.

QUESTION: Would it have been ordinary, even without the head wound, for a person of his stature coming in with those apparent injuries in the x-rays to have an autopsy?

JANOSKI: I would say good forensic pathology would have caused an autopsy to occur, regardless of who he was. He needed an autopsy plain and simple. It is a gross miscarriage of good forensic investigation that he did not get one. You could have a homeless guy dead on the streets of D.C., and he's going to get an autopsy. Yet we have a dead cabinet member without one?

QUESTION: Some might say too many bodies came through that day, that it was not possible to do autopsies.

JANOSKI: That's baloney. I was told there was a lot of pressure from the White House to get the bodies out.

QUESTION: Can you say who told you that?

JANOSKI: Yes. It was an investigator by the name of Bob Veasey. He told me there was a lot of pressure from the White House to get the bodies out.

QUESTION: Did that mean to get them buried?

JANOSKI: Get them in, get them out. Get them into the embalming and casketing area. Get them out of the morgue.

QUESTION: Was he more specific than just the White House? Might he have mentioned a name?

JANOSKI: No. I was also told I was taking too long to take photographs. There was a real hurry to move this guy out. I was the senior photographer, and I had 4 guys working for me. Being in the navy so long, I had the feeling the senior person has the responsibility, but they also have the accountability. I decided I was going to photograph Ron Brown's body. If something happened like somebody's film didn't turn out, I didn't want them to have to bear that burden. So I took it upon myself. Since I didn't want to be the photographer whose film didn't turn out, with a dead cabinet member, and I'd have to look for another day job, I was very careful in what I did. I took a lot of photographs. I figured, if this role of film gets destroyed in processing, I'm going to have another roll of film to back it up. I was determined we wouldn't have something similar to Vince Foster's crime scene, where everything comes out underexposed.

QUESTION: How long had you worked for these people who you characterize as being in a different faction on this?

JANOSKI: I had been in the Medical Examiner's office a little less than a year.

QUESTION: Had there ever been another occasion where the staff had split like this over a procedure? Had there been an occasion where Hause, Cogswell and Parsons had taken one position and everyone else had taken another one?

JANOSKI: No. Let me go back a bit. I had been there 2 1/2 years when the story actually broke. So I had worked in this office 2 1/2 years when the office split into two factions. There would sometimes be disagreements on cases, but nothing of this magnitude.

QUESTION: Had there ever been any indication that the White House was exerting pressure in any case before this?

JANOSKI: Not that I know of. The actual team leader of this mission was a Navy commander by the name of Edward Kilbane. He had actually gone to the West Wing of the White House before the bodies came to Dover. I saw him in his dress blue uniform, and I asked him why he was all dressed up. And he said he had to go to the West Wing of the White House.

QUESTION: What was his role, exactly?

JANOSKI: He was the team leader. When we went out on a plane crash or terrorist bombing, we called it a mission. We would have one person in charge. He was the one making sure the motel reservations were made and he would coordinate with federal agencies. He was your point of contact.

QUESTION: Did he go to the site in Croatia?

JANOSKI: No, Cogswell was the one who went to Croatia.

QUESTION: Did anyone else go to Croatia?

JANOSKI: One of my photographers also went - - Ron Kikel. Cogswell had seen the body briefly at station 2 [7]. The head wound was not noticed at that time. It was noticed at the morgue, when I opened up my big mouth.

QUESTION: What did you say?

JANOSKI: I said, "Wow, look at the hole in Ron Brown's head."

QUESTION: Why did Edward Kilbane have that visit to the White House?

JANOSKI: I would say it was probably some kind of meeting to coordinate bringing the bodies back. That's my opinion. Larry Klayman got some FOIA documents from Commerce. Some of the documents concern this crash and points of contact and so forth. There was a meeting, I believe it was before the bodies came back, to plan everything.

QUESTION: Was that in the White House?

JANOSKI: I believe the FOIA document said West Wing, but I'm sure it said White House. I don't have it handy right now.

QUESTION: Was that the meeting Kilbane attended?


QUESTION: Had you worked with Kilbane for sometime?


QUESTION: Did you find him to be trustworthy?


QUESTION: In what sense no?

JANOSKI: I often had difficulty with him. If I needed a decision made, he would come back and say, "Let me think about that and I'll get back to you." And he never would. I'd have to keep pestering him for an answer. I always had the impression that his decision was going to be made on political correctness - - whichever way the prevailing winds were blowing. It wasn't going to be made on right or wrong.

QUESTION: Where is AFIP located?

JANOSKI: It's located in Washington. The main building is on the Walter Reed Hospital Complex. In August of 1996 the Medical Examiner's Office and Toxicology moved out to Rockville, Maryland.

QUESTION: How did people come to be stationed there? Did the White House have an opportunity to plant people there?


QUESTION: So all these people were there long before the Ron Brown crash occurred?


QUESTION: What would be the motive for those who did not want to pursue this issue? Was it just to protect Gormley, or could there have been a different motive?

JANOSKI: There could have been.

QUESTION: But you don't know of one?

JANOSKI: I don't know. I always thought a lot of what happened was laziness and incompetence and stupidity. But what concerned me was the military hammered us so quickly when the story broke that I had to think maybe there was more to this than I thought.

QUESTION: People I have talked to who are in the military say you guys should have expected the treatment you got because you broke the chain of command. You went outside the military to make statements. How would you respond to that?

JANOSKI: We realized the chain of command was not going to work in this case. Gormley was an Air Force Colonel. He had been in that office for fifteen years. He knew better. He should have done an autopsy. He should have gotten permission. I have a naval criminal investigator telling me that evidence was destroyed. This was not a normal situation where you have a problem aboard ship, where you go up through your chain of command.

You have to look at the bigger picture in this episode. Ron Brown was under investigation. Nolanda Hill had testified about the selling of seats on trade missions for donations to the Democratic National Committee. Everyone had heard about John Huang. This is not textbook "how to be a good petty officer" stuff. We were naive. We had no idea we could get in so much trouble for telling the truth.

QUESTION: Would Gormley to your knowledge have had any motive for not having conducted an autopsy as he should have?

JANOSKI: For a long time I thought he was just being lazy. An autopsy would have required a bit of work on his part.

QUESTION: You don't think that anymore?

JANOSKI: If I look at the big picture I don't think it is that innocent and that simple.

QUESTION: Gormley is probably not the kind of person who follows Judicial Watch, and knows that Nolanda Hill had given testimony that Ron Brown told her seats on Commerce missions had been sold for contributions. Is that correct?

JANOSKI: No, he wouldn't have known.

QUESTION: So what motive could he have for covering up?

JANOSKI: You'd have to ask him that question.

QUESTION: But you don't know of a motive he might have had?

JANOSKI: No. There are a lot of unanswered questions here. The whole office needs to be hauled in for depositions.

QUESTION: Do you know if it will be?

JANOSKI: I don't know.

QUESTION: Do you have any kind of a lawsuit against AFIP?

JANOSKI: My lawyer will be filing one later this year.

QUESTION: Just one more time here: to your knowledge, Gormley was not a White House plant in the office?

JANOSKI: No. That's giving him far too much credit.

QUESTION: And nobody had contacted him, to your knowledge, to tell him to lay off of this?

JANOSKI: I don't know.

QUESTION: And you don't know if anyone else had been contacted by the White House, except Kilbane, who had gone to a meeting in the White House?

JANOSKI: No, I was told by Bob Veasey there was a lot of pressure to get these bodies out.

QUESTION: Pressure applied to whom?

JANOSKI: He didn't say.

QUESTION: How were you punished for coming forward with the others?

JANOSKI: I was given 32 hours to clear out my office. I was not given any reason why I was being reassigned, even though I asked for it, via phone , email, and in person.

QUESTION: Would it be normal procedure to explain to you why you were being reassigned, wouldn't it?

JANOSKI: Yes, if it was a question of poor work performance, good leadership and management dictates that someone sits down and says, "Chief, were not happy with your work performance, we're going to reassign you." Usually it is written down. It is a counseling session. That's the way we do things in the Navy.

QUESTION: One would think that military procedure would require some kind of a meeting to explain this to you. Is it required?

JANOSKI: I'm not so sure it's required, but it's almost custom. Good leadership and management is inherent in the military. I was given a list of things I had to do before I left, but I was never given a reason why I was reassigned. I was chief of forensic photography for the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner. I was responsible for myself and four other photographers. I sent them all over the world to photograph aircraft accidents, autopsies, murders, and terrorist bombings. I was responsible for $250,000 of photographic equipment. I was also the government credit card holder for the office. I was spending $100,000 for photographic paper and supplies. So this quick transfer disrupted everything.

I had a $250,000 inventory of Nikon Gear - - lenses, you name it - - 282 items. I was not given enough time to turn this inventory over to someone else before I was going to be booted out the door or denied access. Since the Army owns AFIP, as far as the Army was concerned I was still responsible for all of this equipment, since I had signed for all of it. I was afraid that these people were trying to set me up, that I would walk out the door and half of this stuff would show up in some pawnshop in Southeast D.C. So before I left I filed a complaint with the Army Inspector General's Office, against these senior executive civilians, who gave me my marching orders.

QUESTION: Who was that?

JANOSKI: Dr. Florabel Mullick. When Cogswell and I were given our marching orders, Spencer and Gormley were not there. My chain of command within that office was not there. They had a senior Army civilian give us our marching orders.

QUESTION: Did they have someone lined up to take your position?

JANOSKI: No, no. My replacement is not coming in till this month.

QUESTION: What month was it you were booted out?

JANOSKI: April 3rd.

QUESTION: And so your replacement will take over in October?


QUESTION: Who has been managing that inventory since you have been out?

JANOSKI: I was forced to turn it over to a military policeman who is stationed out there. We did that about two weeks after I was forced out.

QUESTION: Where are you now?

JANOSKI: I am at the main building of AFIP on Walter Reed Army Complex. I was assigned to a guy who is in charge of the computer people and the photo lab. I was stuck in a job that never existed before.

QUESTION: So they created a job to move you out?

JANOSKI: Yes. What they did was stick me in the corner. Chair too low, desk too high, fluorescent lights buzzing. And I was given this assignment to do, to decide if the AFIP photo lab should be contracted out. It took me a couple of weeks to do that. It wasn't brain surgery. And I finally decided find my own niche. So I work at the customer service area of the photo lab. I wait on customers and input work orders into the computer. I did that on my own.

QUESTION: What happened to the other three fellows?

JANOSKI: Dr. Cogswell was banished to dental pathology. He is a board certified forensic pathologist. They stuck him in with a bunch of dentists. This is serious because he is being tasked to read slides of mouth tumors. He is not qualified to do this. Hopefully, someone goes behind him and checks his work. He doesn't have enough knowledge or background to know whether what he is looking at under a microscope is cancerous.

Drs. Parsons and Hause were left out there. Apparently, Dr. Jerry Spencer told both of them they really need to find someplace else to work. They weren't allowed to go on any trips or do any autopsies. No one was talking to them, except maybe for my photographers. They would walk into a room and everybody would leave. So Dr. Hause has been transferred to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri as a hospital pathologist. Major Parsons was transferred to Andrews Air Force base as a hospital pathologist. So they are not working in their specific fields.

QUESTION: Do you think this mystery surrounding Ron Brown's death will ever be cleared up?

JANOSKI: I have no idea. It's almost as if no one cares that he is dead, and that 34 other people died. There seems to be such a lack of interest in this. People should just take the time to read Ruddy's stories or talk to us. When was the last time you saw four senior military people essentially put their careers on the line for something they believed in?

QUESTION: I don't remember ever seeing that.

JANOSKI: Exactly. I have almost 23 years in the Navy. Does anyone really think I would throw that down the toilet on just a whim? I've worked too hard to get where I am. I'm getting ready to retire. Why would I throw all that away for some wild-eyed conspiracy theory? I was there. I was the one who saw the body. I was the one who photographed the body. I know what I saw; I know what I photographed; and I know what people told me.

QUESTION: Was there any evidence of foul play with the other bodies that came through?

JANOSKI: Not any of the other ones. I know there are a lot of people who think Shelly Kelly had a four inch cut over her femoral artery. She didn't.

QUESTION: That was the stewardess?


QUESTION: And the story that went around was she survived the crash and was walking around. She got on a helicopter, then ended up dead before she got to the hospital. That story is not true, then?

JANOSKI: This is a question. She wasn't walking around anywhere. She had a broken neck, up around C1 or C2, which is really high up. Also, she had a broken leg or two. When Cogswell got to the crash site, he asked people, "Where was Shelly Kelly found? Was she found in the plane, was she found outside the plane, did she walk to the helicopter?" He got as many different answers as the number of people he asked.

QUESTION: These were all people who were on the scene and would have been eyewitnesses to this?

JANOSKI: Not to the crash. If I am not mistaken, the Americans did not get there until about 12 hours later.

QUESTION: I thought I read that some troops were airlifted in there pretty quickly.

JANOSKI: That's what I've heard, but I don't know if it's true or not.

QUESTION: So he got a number of different stories about her condition?


QUESTION: But she did not have a slash on her femoral artery?

JANOSKI: Cogswell and I have talked about that. We think that may have been an artifact of embalming that someone saw. In embalming they use the femoral arteries to shoot embalming fluid in.

QUESTION: I saw you guys on CBN. It was you and Cogswell as I remember. You were dressed up in your dress uniforms. Were there any repercussions immediately after that?

JANOSKI: No, that was after we got shitcanned out of the building. It was kind of weird. AFIP figured if they ignored the story it would just go away. I think they were just hoping we would drop off the face of the earth. But then CBN went ahead, and they replayed that same story again, I think it was back in July.

The Ron Brown story may die down for awhile, but it's going to resurface again. There is always going to be controversy surrounding this case, because the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology did not do its job. Plain and simple, it did not do its job.

QUESTION: Do you think the body will ever be exhumed and autopsied?

JANOSKI: I don't know.

QUESTION: Many people have said that there was no bullet evident in the x-rays. Clarence Page made a lot about this in a column he wrote back in January, which was obviously a propaganda piece designed to put the matter to rest.

JANOSKI: There was what appeared to be metal fragments inside the head. Also, significantly, there was no test for gunshot residue done around the head wound. Also, Dr. Gormley did not look for an exit wound.

QUESTION: That was Page's point, that no exit wound was found, and x-rays of the body cavity did not reveal the bullet.

JANOSKI: You are not going to find an exit wound if you don't look for it.

QUESTION: So, there could have been an exit wound somewhere down on the torso?

JANOSKI: Yes, possibly around the genital area or the buttocks.

QUESTION: Was the body turned over on the table?

JANOSKI: Yes, but he did not probe the genital area for an exit wound. Cogswell says an exit wound often can be nothing more than a very small slit in the skin. You have to walk your fingers along while you're pulling the skin apart to find it. We are very careful. We say it looks like a bullet hole, and is consistent with a bullet hole. But without an autopsy, we will never know for sure - - we can't say it was and we can't say it wasn't.

QUESTION: At this late stage, would an autopsy reveal an exit wound in the skin?

JANOSKI: I don't know, he's been embalmed and in the ground for awhile. That is a question for a forensic pathologist.

QUESTION: You have retained Larry Klayman and Judicial Watch as counsel. Why have you done that?

JANOSKI: There was an internal investigation convened almost immediately. I was given a list of questions I had to answer. Most of the questions pertained to how Ruddy got the story. Cogswell , Hause, and Parsons got similar questions. When I was given the questions by the investigative officer, I said, "You need to interview two of my guys who were up at Dover," and I gave him their names. I had 4 photographers who had worked for me up at Dover. The investigating officer had never talked to them. The more Hause, Parsons, Cogswell and I talked among ourselves, the more we realized this internal investigation was a farce, and it was targeted against us. We used the photographers as a litmus test. As long as they were never interviewed, then we knew we were the targets.

QUESTION: What was the role of the photographers?

JANOSKI: They were photographing the other bodies.

QUESTION: And so any real investigation would have gotten to them?

JANOSKI: Yes. I was given this list of questions, so I went to see a couple of Navy lawyers down at the Washington Navy Yard. These schmucks had been watching too many episodes of JAG. One of them said, "It's not news unless it's in the Washington Post." They took a very cavalier attitude about all this. I got the feeling that something was not right. So I told the investigating officer I was not going to make a statement. He said, "On advice of counsel?" And I said, "I didn't say that, I'm just not going to make a statement." A couple of weeks later he called me at home and in a very threatening tone and manner, said, "I want to see you in my office tomorrow at 8:30. You may want to invoke your right to legal counsel." At that point I was afraid I was being charged with something.

I knew I hadn't done anything, but that doesn't make any difference if they want to railroad you. At that point I called Larry Klayman and said, "Help!" Larry and one of the other attorneys went in with me the next day. I retained Larry as legal counsel that day. He had a conversation with the Army JAG officer at AFIP. He asked him, "What is going to happen to Ms. Janoski if she doesn't answer your questions?" He said, "Well, she'll probably be court-martialed." And Larry asked, "What is the worst that could happen to her?" The Jag officer said, "Theoretically, she could get the death penalty." This is all in writing. Larry will back me up on this. So I invoked Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It's similar to taking the 5th.

In this whole process I was never read my rights. I was never told that I had a right to remain silent. I was never apprised of Article 31 of the UCMJ. The investigating officer probably figured I was the weak link. He probably thought that since I was female and enlisted and close to retirement, they were going to hammer me to make me talk. God only knows what I was going to say. So when they told me I could invoke legal counsel, that's when I went to Larry.

QUESTION: Why would they threaten you like that?

JANOSKI: It was bullying and intimidation to find out some facts and to try to keep me from talking to the press.

QUESTION: According to information I've seen, Mr. Klayman may be bringing suit on your behalf under a whistle blower's act. Is that true?

JANOSKI: Yes, he's looking into that.

QUESTION: What would be the complaint on your part?

JANOSKI: The fact that I was punished for going on the record with the Pittsburgh Tribune. I see my situation as somewhat similar to Frederick Whitehurst, when he sued the FBI over the crime lab allegations.

QUESTION: Is there anything we've left out?

JANOSKI: The Indian medicine kit. Sentell came up to me when we were at Dover and said, "I've got something sensitive for you to photograph." And she brought this thing out that looked like a burrito to me. She called it an Indian magic kit. She said it was in the diplomatic pouch, and it belonged to Ron Brown. She had me photograph it. It was a chamois tied up and inside there was an arrowhead, a half-smoked cigarette, a feather, some red beads, and a couple of turquoise stones. So I took a picture of it closed, with a ruler for scale. And I took a picture of it open with the ruler. I asked her what she was going to do with it. She said, "Air Force Mortuary Affairs will hang onto it for 90 days, and if the family doesn't ask for it back, they will destroy it."

This is important because we don't destroy personal effects. It doesn't make any difference what you find on the body, whether it is naked pictures or phone numbers or whatever. Everything goes back to the family, because we do not have the right to censor. If you take something out to avoid embarrassing the family and they knew it was there, they are going to wonder what the hell is going on. So you don't destroy personal effects. So why weren't they giving it back regardless?

When I was photographing it I said of the half-smoked cigarette, "Wow, do you think this is a joint?" And she didn't answer me. She was dead serious. Anyway, in June of 1997 there was an article in the New Yorker Magazine about Nolanda Hill. In it she talks about this Indian medicine kit. She's the one who gave it to Ron Brown. And I asked Hause and Parsons, "How could the family ask for it back if Nolanda Hill is the one who gave it to him?" Then, earlier this year, I was told by someone who was at Dover that Bob Veasey had destroyed it because it was too embarrassing. And I believe Sentell also had something to do with destroying it.

That was stupid on their part, because when I took pictures of it I took it on negative film. It's page 132 of the proof sheets on the crash. The title of it is "Ronald Brown's Personal Effects." If they destroy the negatives and the proof sheets they are really stupid, because the proof sheets will be out of sequential order.

Second, did she have the authority to go into the diplomatic pouch? Tim Maier from Insight Magazine asked me if there were quid pro quo documents in the pouch - - who gave donations and who went on the trade missions. I said, "I don't know." You have to ask yourself the question, what else came out of that pouch?

The fact that the Indian medicine kit was destroyed shows the mind set of the office. This office is supposed to have the utmost honesty in death investigations. You don't take sides. You don't go in to do an autopsy investigation because you want to support the cops or the D.A. You go in with an open mind, and the only thing you are interested in is finding out the facts. By destroying the Indian medicine kit, it shows the mind set that if something is embarrassing, we'll just get rid of it. Now we have to ask, what else did they destroy?


1. Judicial Watch Interim Impeachment Report: http://www.tiac.net/users/kencook.

2. See "The Stealth Chinagate Committee: Cox Panel Sifts Through Classified Evidence on National Security," Washington Weekly, Sept 28, 1998.

3. "Ron Brown's Loose Lips Seal His Fate": http://www.aci.net/kalliste/brown.htm.

4. See for example, Grabbe, "Loose Lips."

5. Email to Wesley Phelan, October 20, 1998.

6. Email to Wesley Phelan, October 20, 1998.

7. Cogswell left for Croatia after Ron Brown's body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.


from The Laissez Faire City Times, Vol 2, No 35, October 26, 1998

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