Wesley Liebeler: ‘sometimes we get caught up in things that are bigger than we are’

“Mr. Marcus, sometimes we get caught up in things that are bigger than we are.”

— Researcher Raymond Marcus, writing in Addendum B: Addendum to the HSCA, the Zapruder Film, and the Single Bullet Theory, p.66. Marcus had a meeting with Liebeler in 1967, and wrote this about the meeting:

I phoned Liebeler and asked for a meeting. He agreed, and I came to his office a few days later. I showed him the Moorman No. 5 man, a clearer version than that which — unknown to me — Lifton had showed him before. I told him it was obvious for many reasons that the Warren Report was falling apart, and that the case was going to blow up sooner rather than later. I urged him to consider his responsibility as a citizen, and said that he would not dishonor himself — quite the contrary — if he was to be the first Warren Commission attorney to call a press conference and say something like, “We did the best we could under the circumstances, but there is now sufficient evidence to warrant a reopening of the case.”

Liebeler looked at me silently for perhaps 30 seconds (it seemed longer, but probably wasn’t). Then he said, “Mr. Marcus, sometimes we get caught up in things that are bigger than we are.”

19 thoughts on “Wesley Liebeler: ‘sometimes we get caught up in things that are bigger than we are’”

  1. One cannot possibly understand Liebeler’s response to Ray Marcus in June, 1967, without knowing what happened between me and Professor Liebeler seven to eight months before, in November, 1966, as reported in BEST EVIDENCE.

    What I shall now report is laid out in detail in BEST EVIDENCE (see chapters 9 thru 15).

    On October 24, 1966, I had a five hour meeting with Liebeler at which time I confronted him with critical evidence I had just discovered–and which became a central focus of my book: that the FBI report of Sibert and O’Neil (the two agents who attended the autopsy)–reported that when the body was unwrapped from the coffin in which it arrived, there was a second, blood-soaked wrapping on the head, and when that wrapping was removed, it was “apparent” that there had been “surgery of the head area, namely, in the top of the skull.” Liebeler was astonished at this information made calls to other Warren Commission attorneys, and told me excitedly that I had discovered “new evidence.”

    In the weeks that followed, he–assisted by me and two of his law students–gathered material about the autopsy and wrote a 13 page memorandum that went to Chief Justice Warren, the other six Warren Commissioners, about 10 of the staff attorneys, Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and Kennedy family attorney Burke Marshall. Liebeler’s memo called for a limited reopening of the investigation in the medical area. Page six was devoted to my discovery that the FBI reported post-mortem pre-autopsy “surgery of the head area.”

    Wrote Liebeler: Attention was first drawn to the above statement by Mr. David Lifton of Los Angeles. Mr Lifton is quite familiar with the report and the underlying evidence. He has agreed not to focus public attention on this matter until an attempt has been made to effect a responsible analysis of the autopsy photographs and x-rays to determine whether or not the Sibert and O’Neal Report is accurate. In assessing the probable public reaction to the statement concerning surgery in the President’s head area, it should be noted that neither the Sibert and O’Neal Report nor the comment about head surgery is set forth or discussed anywhere in the Report or the 26 volumes of underlying evidence.”

    As noted, Liebeler’s memo (dated November 8, 1966) went to 20 people in all–the seven Warren Commissioners, 11 staff attorneys, the Kennedy family attorney, and the Department of Justice. Liebeler’s transmittal letter is dated November 16, 1966. (The memo is available at NARA; the transmittal letter, at the Geral Ford Library).

    On December 1, former General Counsel J. Lee Rankin wrote a response rejecting Liebeler’s memo–and telling him in effect that, as a private citizen, he could do whatever he wished, but that, as far as he was concerned, the case was closed.

    Liebeler understood the implications of the FBI statement–that the issue was not whether a “second assassin” was being concealed as a result of tampering with the President’s body, but whether there was deliberate fraud in the evidence. That was true then; it is still true now.

    The issue is the legitimacy of the evidence; not the number of assassins.

    If the President’s body was altered prior to autopsy, then the body–at the time of the autopsy–was tantamount to a medical forgery; and it told a false story of the shooting.

    Liebeler understood this; and he understood this completely.

    At the time, Liebeler was teaching a course on the Warren Commission at the UCLA Law School, and he invited me to attend the class, and play devil’s advocate. This went on for the entire school year (1966-1967) and into 1968. (And my experiences are spelled out in detail in Best Evidence).

    Liebeler was very angry and annoyed by J. Lee Rankin’s absurd and ridiculous response to his memorandum on December 1, 1966.

    Ray Marcus knew nothing about any of my dealings with Liebeler when he approached Liebeler, for the first time, in June 1967. He did not know that, the previous October, Liebeler had been treated to a detailed exposition of evidence that President Kennedy’s body had been altered prior to autopsy; he did not know that, on November 8, 1966, he had written a 13 page memorandum addressing the matter. He did not know that this memorandum had been sent out to some 20 people on November 16, 1966, and that former Warren Commission Counsel J. Lee Rankin had treated it so dismissively in his letter of December 1, 1966.

    So when Ray Marcus went into Liebeler’s office in June, 1967–not knowing about any of this “back story”–and suggested to Liebeler that he ought to change his public position on the JFK case, Marcus was unaware that–some seven months before–I had already had a much more dramatic confrontation with Liebeler, and that Liebeler had already attempted to get a limited re-opening of the investigation, writing the memo he did that went to all former Warren Commissioners, the staff, the Attorney General, and the Kennedy family attorney.

    And so that is the true meaning of Liebeler’s response: “Mr. Marcus, sometimes we get caught up in things that are bigger than we are.”

    Ray Msrcus told me about his meeting with Liebeler shortly after it occurred, and–knowing the full back story and the complete context–I incorporated that into the manuscript for Best Evidence. Indeed, those are the exact words with which I closed chapter 15 of BEST EVIDENCE.

    Liebeler’s statement about “being caught up in things that are bigger than we are” obviously is a reference to his attempt to get a limited reopening of the Kennedy investigation because he had been presented with evidence that the President’s body had been altered prior to autopsy.

    1. “Page six was devoted to my discovery that the FBI reported post-mortem pre-autopsy “surgery of the head area.”~David Lifton

      And this so-called new information; “surgery of the head area,” turned out to be pure bunk didn’t it David. It was obiter dictum by Humes when the sheets wrapped around Kennedy’s head were first removed. The SS agents taking notes wrote that comment down, but changed it in there final report because Humes changed his mind on close examination of the head, it was the sharp bone fragments that had given Humes the impression – due to the straight and angular appearance of the shards of bone that made it look so initially.

      So you went on a wild goose chase that led to many convoluted suppositions and stretching the facts and testimonies to fit your cockeyed theory.
      And now we end up with your legacy as one of many charlatans postulating BS, and mythology.

      1. Yet David Lifton was deemed in 2001 to be a responsible enough researcher/author to be granted a $165,000 loan – paid out in 3 tranches over as many years – by self-described neophyte JFK assassination enthusiast Oliver Curme, a venture capitalist who purchased the Mary Ferrell collection and established a foundation presumably to protect and progress her research.

        According to MFF tax records, the loans to David Lifton ensued the year the foundation was established. At that time Mary Ferrell was still living and the 501c.3 was designated a Charitable Trust; the explanatory notes on the tax records indicate that the loans to Lifton were intended to support the development of a book about Mary’s collection. As of 2013, MFF tax records reflect outstanding loans to Mr. Lifton (an amount that represents 10% of the total value declared by the tax exempt foundation) and there is no record that said book has been published.

        The loans were evidently a decision made by a private citizen, Mr. Curme when he bought the collection. However, the collection has for decades represented itself as a leading authority on documentation of the assassination that hundreds if not thousands of citizens look to for the facts. A private foundation assures the public that it manages a collection of this magnitude honourably by virtue of the integrity of those involved in the tax exempt foundation. Sadly David Lifton’s association with the Ferrell collection as evidenced by these loans, whether or not they were made in good faith by Mr. Curme, becomes increasingly troubling as pointed out by Willy Whitten here: “And this so-called new information; “surgery of the head area,” turned out to be pure bunk didn’t it David [Lifton] . . . So you went on a wild goose chase that led to many convoluted suppositions and stretching the facts and testimonies to fit your cockeyed theory. And now we end up with your legacy as one of many charlatans postulating BS, and mythology.”

      2. David S. Lifton

        Unfortunately, I don’t keep up with every comment made about me or my work on the Internet; but I happened to encounter yours, and so I’m taking this opportunity to state my reaction: your commentary is nonsensical, and totally ridiculous.

        Anyone who reads Best Evidence–or even the ARRB’s 1998 report–knows that there is serious evidence supporting the proposition that JFK’s body was altered (i.e., bullets removed, and wounds altered) prior to the start of the Bethesda autopsy (at 8 PM EST, at Bethesda Naval Hospital). You can engage in name calling and postulate excuses, but the evidence is right there, in the record, and will stand the test of time. Anyone seriously interested in this subject should Google “David Lifton, Best Evidence Research Video” and view the 37 minute documentary film that I produced in 1980, excerpts of which were played throughout my book tour (Spring 1981) and which was released in 1989, and again in 1992. There, in a nutshell, you will have the basic thesis of Best Evidence. Its very obvious that JFK’s body arrived at Bethesda, in a body bag (inside a shipping casket) about 20 minutes before Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy arrived at Bethesda, at 6:55 PM, in a US Naval ambulance, which was offloaded form AF-1, at 6:10 PM EST. This sequence aside from any debate about wounds, establishes that the Dallas coffin was empty; and, as TIME reported (1/19/81) when my book was published, raises the issue of whether there was a professional “deception” operation in play on November 22 1963.

        Its your superficial commentary, Mr. Whitten, and not Best Evidence, that’s going to end up in the dustbin of history.

      3. I regret replying to this so belatedly, but basically your post is misleading, at best, and, IMHO, just complete garbage. What I discovered in 1966 (that the FBI reported there had been “surgery of the head area”) was just the beginning of a long quest to find the truth, as laid out in Best Evidence. Your pronouncements denigrating the importance of my work are silly and superficial. Set aside –completely–the anatomical evidence that the wounds were altered; and just focus on the chain of possession of the body. Do you deny that JFK’s body arrived a good 20 minutes before the very expensive Dallas coffin? That it arrived in a body bag? A body bag that was inside a shipping casket?

        I strongly advise you to “get real” when it comes to analyzing the evidence in the JFK case. I made the Best Evidence Research Video to preserve, for all time, the actual filmed accounts of the key witnesses: Dennis David, Paul O’Connor, Aubrey Rike–all now having passed.

        And you casually dismiss all of this with some superficial commentary attempting to explain what a critical FBI report states by suggesting it was a transcription error? This sort of “reasoning” would not get a passing course in any university course in history.

        1. David S. Lifton

          The last sentence that I wrote (years ago) –addressing the superficial nature of Willy Whitten’s post has a one-word error, and I’m belatedly commenting on it right here. As published here on the Internet, It reads “would not get a passing course i any university course in history.” What I meant to write was: “would not get a passing grade in any university course in history.” DSL, 4/21/2019

      4. Even a novice can tell that something was done to the head. The Parkland doctors all testified to the nature of the head wound (egg sized hole if the back of head) and the throat wound/trach incision. The head wound becomes much larger at Bethesda, the throat wound becomes thrashed. On top of that the Zapruder film show a massive wound to the right temple (obvious indication that the film was doctored to make it look like a rear entry). When I first was looking into the Kennedy assassination, this was one the areas that caused me great confusion. David Lipton’s Best Evidence really provides the best explanation on reconciling all of this. The nation owes him a debt of gratitude for his efforts.

        1. Lifton’s book was probably a catalyst for many citizen’s in renewing interest, if not starting an obsession, into the JFK Assassination cold case. Perhaps the literary equivalent of the film JFK in that the ARRB’s work also examined the case for a dummy casket with a “pre-autopsy” or body alteration.

        2. Thanks for your support; but please keep in mind that my last name is “LIFTON” – – I repeat, L I F T O N–not “Lipton”.

          Best wishes,


          1. David, your book, as Brent Holland described it, is “almost Biblical in its profoundness”. I’m 57 so all this passed by me as a youngster, but your book and the personal way it was written took me through that time period and the evolution of your thought. Truly a great documentary. Sorry, spelling is not my strong suit. To remember your last name, I will think of “lift a ton” because that is what you did as evidenced by the work presented in your book. God Bless

  2. His comment implied a certain impotence to enact any such civic act because he had a tacit set of rules or a code to follow that prohibited any gesture. Of course he can’t say as mch without declaring such a meta-order exists, and that it was not incompetence but the rational decisions forced on him from a higher degree of authority. Abd the subtext is that coercion is involved.

    The naive question asked of him is not unlike someone now asking for a new investigation of 911. One could answer with the same bizarre line and it would mean the same thing.

    Within the corridors of power, even among honorable types, there is a certain psychological conditioning and collective agreement to not look at the darkness one knows is there on some level. It is only in the outer-mst periphery of the citizenry that one can not fathom how such machinations can operate so seamlessly and cynically. And rhus there is a counter-force that effects these people in a psychological sense, where they adopt a more naive paradigm of their nation, and the world. If it isn’t on the news, it isn’t an “event”.

    And always the conditioning… but it is a spell easily broken by a brave voice. But it must happen again, and again, until such time that we begin to truly see the world for the first time.

  3. I’ve never found it particularly hard to understand why WC members and staffers wanted to stick with the lone gunman theory, without positing some kind of improbably broad conspiracy. It was the 60s. People thought we were in a fight to the death with the Soviet Union. There was heavy internal turbulence in the country.

    They were afraid of what an investigation might reveal–afraid that the country would fall apart if it turned out that the assassination was really some kind of coup d’etat.

      1. There were other investigations which called into question the WCR or raised suspicions, but secret documents were still classified and the CIA continued to withhold information.

  4. From Chapter 13 Farewell America

    Once the decision had been made to eliminate the President, the members of the Committee turned their attention to political camouflage and technical arrangements. Secret operations in wartime, and even propaganda campaigns, employ techniques that to all appearances are illogical. They had to find a way to divert public anger. They needed a scapegoat, a “madman.”

    History has often made use of a “madman” to shift the blame for a perfectly rational act. A “mad” assassin, captured immediately, would act as a magnet for public resentment. He would absorb the embarrassing questions and serve as a cover for the obvious accomplices. Quickly removed from the scene, he would leave behind him only the hatred inspired by solitary killers and the respect of the public for famous men now dead.

    But the madman was only a detail. The Committee knew from its legal counselors that the assassination of a President is not a federal crime, and that the local authorities are legally competent to conduct an investigation. They would make sure it went wide of its mark.

    The collaboration on which the Committee was dependent, and the cooperation of those who did nothing to stop it, turned the assassination into a national conspiracy in which not only the local police and certain judicial officers, but also the FBI through its negligence and the CIA through its double agents and its operational units, the Army with its dissident generals, Congress and its corruption, and the entire economic system through its ideals and certain members of the Committee were implicated.

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