Ken O’Donnell on grassy knoll shots

“I told the FBI what I had heard [two shots from behind the grassy knoll fence], but they said it couldn’t have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn’t want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family.”

– Kennedy aide Kenneth O’Donnell, quoted by House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. in “Man of the House,” p. 178. O’Donnell was riding in the Secret Service follow-up car with Dave Powers, who was present and told O’Neill he had the same recollection.


  1. Brian LeCloux says:

    This parallels what DPD officer James Leavelle told researcher Barry Ernst and reported in his The Girl on the Stairs (2011):
    If the witness couldn’t provide anything we could use against Oswald, it wasn’t important.

  2. Rainy Griffin says:

    My great grandma knew LBJ… she dint rally care for him… she said he walked round with a whiskey flask in his pocket.My family is part of the wealthy Texas Oil Elite.And they went to the infamous barbeques LBJ put on.My great grandmother predicted JFKs assanation…. and knew that LBJ would have Kenndy killed…… because She knew JBJ s charaacter..she even said he would bring Jack to Texas.I vehmentaly hate what has happened.I think JFK is the Only real Presedent we have had since that day!

    • Mike says:

      In 1975 I flew for the first time at the age of 20, and I was seated next to an elderly gentleman who started up a conversation with me. He repeatedly brought up his brother “Lyndon” and how he considered him a crook and a scoundrel. He told me that he was Sam Houston Johnson, and years later I recognized him in photos on the web. At that time I didn’t have any reason to ask him about JFK, etc. Of course I don’t know if his bitterness toward his brother was based upon personal circumstances or upon LBJ’s political machinations. We may never know if he had advance knowledge of the assassination, but certainly he played a major role in the coverup.

      • Kirk says:

        SHJ’s opinion of his brother was based on a number of issues. Bitterness, LBJ was President and SHJ was a admitted drunk. Lived in the old Alamo Hotel in Austin I believe that LBJ paid for. In a lot of ways LBJ fits his description.

        BTW, every non baptist in Texas carried a flask in those days…

      • Mike, I believe he did know the assassination was going to happen, but he didn’t know the details.

  3. Jonathan says:

    What to say about Ken O’Donnell.

    He wasn’t true to his president.

    • His idea was to be true, but the FBI had other ideas.

      • Kirk says:

        Never been a man more true to his President. It is easy to look back now. In a taped interview later he said they all knew there was more than Oswald involved but if it turned into a KGB conspiracy right then we would have had to declare war and risk a nuclear holocaust. He said looking back he should have done more to push for the truth to be known but he had been close to JFK and best friends with Bobby. On top of that whole thing he stayed on with LBJ for awhile to ease the transition and during those days it all he could do to try and get the mantle passed to LBJ and move on after Watson came on board as COS.

  4. Curtis Fenwick says:

    In the animal kingdom, when a lion is injured or dies in battle the others in the pride will eat its carcass. The same thing happened with JFK; he was surrounded by a force of humans that let him down when he needed them the most. That’s life.

  5. JG says:

    Shoot the president from the front but plant evidence behind him, this makes no sense.

    If there was a shooter behind the fence he would have been seen.

    • mitchell says:

      Can you name the individuals who had a view of the area behind the fence? If you look at the photo online of Bowers viewpoint, for example, it doesn’t necessarily look so clear. There is foliage and there are cars around. I’d also like to hear an explanation as to why people would be looking amongst foliage behind a fence while the President is passing. I can’t imagine anyone would spot a somewhat hidden man until he was ducking/moving.

      You are also overlooking the possibility that some diversion, like a firecracker, was used in the fence area. This would makes escape from any building behind the President easier. It would fool O’Donnell and others as well as fit together evidence that does not as easily fit into the Oswald alone scenario or the TSBD + shooter from the fence scenario.

      The fact that the President’s head moved back in what is more like the opposite direction from the knoll area could be one of the few coincidences that have so confounded us over the years. I suppose we could add the small neck exit wound as another somewhat confounding coincidence pulling people into believing there was a front shot (I’ve never seen a convincing position for a front neck shot to originate – it also sounds like a very difficult shot).

    • Tom Wendt says:

      He was seen! By Ed Hoffman and S.M. Holland among others. Their testomony was unwanted by the Warren Commission.

    • He WAS seen, by Ed Hoffman, but sadly, due to his physical conditions, Ed couldn’t communicate what he saw(until much later, to an author).

  6. Mark Barsotti says:

    Thanks for using the quote I posted on a couple JFK Facebook sites, down to my exact words and placement of the “(two shots from behind the grassy knoll fence)” and only a slight rewording of my attribution. Happy to provide fodder and facts serve us all. Next time, in the shared spirit of inquiry, you may want to consider a tip o’ the hat (on FB perhaps) acknowledging the source.

  7. GM says:

    Was Dave Powers filming the events in Dallas? Did he stop filming before the assassination?

    • mitchell says:

      Yeah his film was found recently. It stops just before the turn onto Houston when, we are told, he ran out of film. How great would a new film with coverage from that vantage point be? On the flipside, maybe he would’ve turned his head to the left just before the shooting began and we would get very little from the film.

    • Jonathan says:

      Powers was in the follow-up car and did not have a camera.

  8. Kennedy63 says:

    To GM & JG, respectively:
    Yes Dave Powers did film partly through the motorcade, but ran out of film before entering the Kill Zone/Dealy Plaza; thus, he did not record the JFK assassination, but eye-witnessed it from behind the motorcade in the follow-up car. “I was assigned to ride in the Secret Service automobile which proceeded immediately behind the President’s car in the motorcade…I sat in the jump seat on the right side of the car…” (
    In answer to JG and the seeming disbelief expressed in the comment, “Shoot the president from the front but plant evidence behind him, this makes no sense. If there was a shooter behind the fence he would have been seen.” Well JG, as logical as that seems on the surface, take into account that the assassins thought about this detail; so no, the shooter in front would not have allowed himself to be exposed as a shooter. As noted, Dave Powers, Kennedy’s Special Assistant, rode in the Secret Service follow-up car with Ken O’Donnell. Powers affidavit states: “My first impression was that the shots came from the right and overhead, but I also had a fleeting impression that the noise appeared to come from the front in the area of the triple overpass. This may have resulted from my feeling, when I looked forward toward the over-pass, that we might have ridden into an ambush.”
    To believe the Warren Omission is to abdicate ones ‘duty of vigilance’ as a citizen of the Republic. For it is only through the watchfulness of citizens that government is held accountable. The Warren Omission is a house built on the sand of the lone assassin fable, supported by an improbable 3 shot scenario and an invented flight path (by the late Senator Arlen Specter of PA.) of a bullet derisively called the “magic bullet.” This bullet is alleged to have entered the back of JFK, exited his throat below his Adam’s apple, entered Gov. Connelly’s back, smashed his 5th left rib, exited his chest below his nipple, entered his right wrist breaking that thick bone, then entering his right thigh. This bullet is supposed to have been found on a stretcher by the elevator in almost pristine condition (on the floor below where JFK & the Gov. received emergency treatment for their collective wounds). If you find the “shooter behind the fence” implausible, how can you naively accept the contrived flight of, and inflicted damage by, CE399 (Magic Bullet)? This highly falsified scenario is a desperate attempt to conceal the true nature of the coup d’état, in Dallas, on November 22, 1963. If Kennedy’s murder was revealed for what it was, the credibility of the government would disintegrate. Why? Because “agents” trained, retained, and involved in other assassination plots of foreign leaders were involved in killing JFK. The power structure (the elected and appointed leaders) decided that it was in their “best interests” to foist upon the American people, the biggest hoax in American History (at that time), namely, the Warren Omission Report. The august body of esteemed ‘gentlemen’ performed as witting dupes sabotaged by the FBI and CIA. These government Agencies knowingly withheld information (about the assassination of foreign leaders) and the fact that multiple government agencies were actively tracking Lee Harvey Oswald up to the day of the assassination. The Kennedy coup d’état was an off-the-books state sponsored regime overthrow. Any questions?

  9. Robert says:

    This was debunked years ago. “The story is an absolute lie…whoever gave that story is lying. It’s an absolute, outright lie.” – Kenneth O’Donnell, Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1975.

    Tip O’Neill’s memoir is hardly a trustworthy source. “Some of the anecdotes [in MAN OF THE HOUSE] . . . were verifiable. Others came under attack. Columnists Evans and Novak denied his [O’Neill’s] assertion that they offered to trade him good coverage for leaks. Dave Powers failed to support O’Neill’s claim that Powers and Kenny O’Donnell believed there was a second gunman involved in the JFK assassination. “Tip is a great storyteller, as are many politicians,” Novak diplomatically told the press. “They tell these stories over and over again. The rough edges get planed off and the story gets a little more dramatic and they get further and further from reality.” Aloysius Farrell, TIP O’NEILL AND THE DEMOCRATIC CENTURY (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001), pp. 680-81.

    • TLR says:

      Doesn’t it make more sense that O’Donnell and Powers were simply continuing their public appearance of supporting the official story, though they had privately told Tip O’Neill what they really thought?

      • Robert says:

        Why does that make more sense? It makes no sense to trust an anecdote from someone proven to stretch the truth over the man’s own repeated denials.

      • In “Johnny We Hardly Knew Ya”(written by O’Donnell and Powers), O’Donnell described the time between the second and third shots they heard as “about enough time for a man to run 50 yds”. I always thought that was interesting for them to write.

    • Kirk says:

      If it is a outright lie KPOD lied because that quote that he told the FBI there was shots from the front are in his own book, Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye”. I have also heard it in some recently released tapes from a interview he did in the early 70’s.

  10. T. Caven says:

    If the Secret Service had not so totally eliminated all forensic analysis of this assassination, their would be no need for the conspiracy theories. We could know what actually occurred in Dallas. Clearly, the Secret Service is totally and solely responsible for making this event the mystery it has become. A mystery which will never be solved. The only question…what was their motive for going to such great and desperate lengths to prevent the truth from being revealed?

  11. Fearfaxer says:

    “Some of the anecdotes [in MAN OF THE HOUSE] . . . were verifiable. Others came under attack. Columnists Evans and Novak denied his [O’Neill’s] assertion that they offered to trade him good coverage for leaks.”

    If I wanted to challenge O’Neill’s veracity, I would not use that Evans and Novak denial. That tactic is employed by a hell of a lot of political reporters, and E&N did it as much, if not more, than anyone else. How do you think they managed to produce six columns a week? Needless to say, if you wouldn’t play ball with them, they’d attack you.

  12. HIDEJI OKINA says:

    I’m Japanese assassination resercher.
    I think their testimony have historic value,but from today’s
    viewpoint their testimony is worthless as grassy-knoll shooter’s
    From JFK’s motorcade car,four motorcycles,followup car,grassy-
    knoll shooter clearly visible,but no one observed.
    After the “Brothers” publication,Mr.McCone and Mr.O’Donnell and Mr.Powers opinion about cross-fire spread as vital evidence.
    Their testimony not evidence but only “opinion”.
    Grassy-knoll shooter is a phantom.
    And Mr.Ed Hoffman’s testimony is only bad joke.

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