“I think this record ought to be destroyed.”
— Warren Commissioner Allen Dulles, during a January 22, 1964, executive session at which the allegation that Lee Harvey Oswald was a paid informant for the FBI was discussed. The transcript was indeed destroyed, but an original court reporter’s tape was later recovered and the transcript re-made from it after a long legal battle brought by Harold Weisberg, a former Capitol Hill staffer and JFK researcher.
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Moments after JFK’s assassination many police officers ran toward the so-called grassy knoll where many thought shots came from.
Strange but true:
More than two dozen of the witnesses to the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963 thought at least one gunshot came from in front of the presidential motorcade, a claim rejected by the Warren Commission and most U.S. news organizations.
With the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination approaching this fall, the perennial conspiracy debate is heating up and the testimony of people at the crime scene is getting renewed attention.
What do the facts tell us?
This is an important development. An accomplished newspaper reporter is taking on a subject most accomplished journalists have shied away from for 50 years: the government’s compromised investigation of the assassination of JFK.
From the Atlantic Wire.
“Phillip Shenon, a former New York Times reporter and author of The Commission, an acclaimed and critical look at the 9/11 Commission Report, has promised us a new book that claims that “powerful” people had influenced the Warren Commission’s investigation and final conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing John F. Kennedy.”
In short, Shenon is doing individually what the Times never did institutionally: accountability reporting on JFK’s assassination.
More than a few members of the Washington political elite in the 1960s privately suspected that President Kennedy had been killed by his enemies. They ranged from the JFK’s brother and widow to members of the Warren Commission to established news reporters.
As Rex Bradford notes in this 2008 speech in Dallas, “this group shared with the rest of us disbelief in the lone disgruntled gunman story, What we don’t find [in their comments] for the most part are strong indications that they really knew the answer to ‘Who killed JFK?’ beyond intelligent hunches. But some of their statements offer interesting clues and point the way toward information they had which has since gone missing.”
As of January 20, 1964, the Warren Commission had yet to hear from its first witness. On that day, the head of the Commission, Chief Justice Earl Warren, held his first staff conference with the recently hired lawyers, some of whom would later go on to become prominent political figures. (Arlen Specter became a US senator, and William Coleman became Secretary of Transportation, for example.)
In the meeting, Warren explained why he took the job after declining it. According to one memo of the meeting, Warren said:
Yes. The tape was probably destroyed in January 1986.
This question, prompted by a comment from reader JSA, is a natural follow up to yesterday’s question, “Did the CIA track Oswald before JFK was killed?” And there is a lot of evidence to support our answer. Read more
On Monday January 7, 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald reported to his job at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall, a graphic arts company in Dallas, where he had started working in October 1962. He would work there through April 1963.
Oswald’s time card
At the time Oswald was quarreling with his wife and corresponding with several leftist organizations. Various agencies of the U.S. government were also keeping track of him. When Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev wondered “What really happened?” in Dallas and doubted that U.S. security forces were so “inept,” he had a point: When it came to watching Lee Harvey Oswald, the U.S. government was not inept.
On December 9, the FBI completed its five-volume report on JFK’s assassination. The 400-page report was long on Lee Harvey Oswald’s background and the evidence tying Oswald to the shooting, and notably short on evidence regarding the assassination itself. Regarding the basic account of the shooting, Warren Commissioner Hale Boggs after reading it remarked, “There’s nothing in there about Governor Connally.”
Boggs’ statement was not literally true, but the lack of explanation of the basic evidence of the shooting was really even worse –for example, the FBI Report never once mentioned Kennedy’s throat wound, the one which Parkland Hospital doctors had called a wound of entrance. The FBI’s “three shots, three hits” scenario ignored the throad wound, and also failed acknowledge the wounding of bystander James Tague. A report that failed to mention all of the victims’ wounds had credibility problems from the start.
On this day in 1963, the Warren Commission had its first meeting behind closed doors in Washington. As the seven commissioners began to discuss how to proceed, they grappled with the question of whether they should endorse the FBI’s upcoming report on JFK’s murder, or conduct their own investigation. After some discussion, they chose the latter.
The public was demanding explanation of the incredible and baffling events of Nov. 22-24. The FBI’s findings were already being leaked to the press; Asst. Attorney General Katzenbach said the FBI had denied leaking but “I can’t think of anybody else it could have come from.”
Once President Johnson decided to back the idea of a Presidential Commission, he moved swiftly. By Friday, November 29, his selections had solidified, reluctant participants arm-wrestled into service, and the Commission was announced. It was to be headed by the most reluctant participant of all, Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, and the story of how Johnson got him on board is revealing.
First, the names had to be run by the all-powerful FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Johnson was coy, asking if Hoover was “familiar with this proposed group they’re trying to put together?”