On December 17, 1963, a lawyer from New York named Mark Lane wrote to Chief Justice Warren to “respectfully request that your Commission give consideration to the appointment of defense counsel” for the accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. He enclosed an article he had written.
The article was published two days later in the National Guardian, a weekly publication of leftist politics.
Amid the glut of 50th anniversary JFK coverage, NPR’s interview with Jeremy Gunn, former general counsel for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) from 1994 to 1998, stands out as one of the best recent pieces of journalism on the case of the murdered president.
Gunn is a quality witness. While largely unknown to both mainstream reporters and JFK conspiracy theorists, he was among the first people to see the vast body of JFK records made public by the ARRB in the mid-1990s.
As part of the paper’s 50th anniversary JFK coverage, Scott K. Parks of the Dallas News recounts a story that roiled the national press in early 1964: the rumor that accused assassin Lee Oswald was a paid FBI informant. Using declassified FBI documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Parks sheds new light on how an independent Texas law man shook up official Washington.
In Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade believed the story that Oswald was an FBI informant and he persisted in talking about it, which worried U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, chairman of the commission investigating the assassination. It also worried the commission’s general counsel J. Lee Rankin.
“They did not want to be seen as conducting an investigation of Hoover’s FBI,” the story notes.
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.
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.