On the Monday following the tragic and astonishing events in Dallas, President Kennedy’s body was laid to rest in Arlington cemetery. A host of foreign dignitaries took part, including British Prime Minister Home, French President Charles de Gaulle, and many others.
Meanwhile the federal government’s response to the assassination was taking shape. …
In June 1964, Bobby Kennedy was grieving, guilt ridden and getting ready to leave his job as attorney general when he received a faintly ominous memo from the CIA. Written by Deputy Director Richard Helms, a man he did not trust, the four-page missive concerned a subject he did not care to think about: assassination.
Seven months before, the 39-year-old RFK had lost his brother and his political power in a burst of gunfire in Dallas. Under President Lyndon Johnson, Helms, a canny 51-year-old spymaster, had kept his job despite the fact that the CIA had been following accused assassin Lee Oswald for four years.
Helms’s memo, entitled “Plans of Cuban Exiles to Assassinate Selected Cuban Government Leaders,” reminded RFK that he had dabbled in the killing business before his brother’s murder and could not escape it even as he prepared to leave the government.
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:
The first newspaper accounts of JFK’s autopsy, published on December 18, 1963, gave a consistent account of the gunfire that was widely believed at the time (and became the basis for the postcard from Dallas reproduced here). But these accounts, published in the Washington Post and New York Times, vary dramatically from what pathologists later said. This version of the gunfire that struck JFK would be abandoned and forgotten by the two newspapers and defenders of the official story, all of whom later settled on a very different ballistic theory.
One possibility for this major discrepancy is that the Post and the Times stories were based on the original autopsy report that was later rewritten surreptitiously.
The Times story came from the Associated Press and was attributed to “a reliable source familiar with the autopsy findings.” The Post story was based on “the unofficial report of pathologists,” The stories were consistent with each other, both asserting that: …
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.
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?”
Three days earlier, President Johnson had resisted the idea of a Presidential Commission inquiry into President Kennedy’s assassination, telling Joe Alsop “we don’t send in a bunch of carpetbaggers” and “the President must not inject himself into, ah, local killings.” To which Alsop had replied “I agree with that, but in this case it does happen to be the killing of the President.” …
On the Sunday morning following the assassination, Kennedy’s body lay in state at the Capitol rotunda, for mourning visitors to see.
Meanwhile in Dallas, a handcuffed Lee Harvey Oswald was led into the basement of the Dallas city jail for transfer to the county jail. Suddenly, on live national television, Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd of reporters and fired one fatal gunshot into Oswald’s abdomen.
This stunning deed shocked and baffled the nation–and eliminated a key witness to the events that led to JFK’s murder. Not known for his sense of humor, FBI Director Hoover informed the White House in a memo that began: “There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead.”
In the wee hours the day following JFK’s assassination, the confusion-clouded military autopsy of the slain president was concluded and the body delivered to the White House. In Dallas Lee Harvey Oswald remained in policy custody, undergoing interrogations of which no recordings were made. President Johnson began his first day as the new President.
In his first phone call with famed and feared FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Johnson received some surprising news. As “curious history” noted on another post this morning, “Hoover clearly states that the man in Mexico didn’t look like Oswald nor did the voice match. He states that it is a “different man”.
“Curious history” asks: “What do you make of that? The transcript is part of the LBJ library and seems as a credible source.”
Indeed, it is a credible source. The transcript of the call contains the following exchange: …