In April 2016 CTKA published this author’s article[i] that revealed how history books portray the JFK assassination as a crime perpetrated by Oswald alone and how authors’ sources are restricted to the Warren Commission and a few books that mostly support the Lone Nut scenario. Information and conclusions coming from other major investigations and pro-conspiracy authors are almost completely ignored.
The article went on to show how the historians violate their own code of conduct on this issue and looked into possible outside influences that may have affected their work and mindsets. The unfortunate result of the lack of diligence on this issue is that captive audiences of young students have been unfairly exposed to a biased, unsound and incomplete account of the Kennedy assassination in most history textbooks.
Another point that came out was that many historians find that independent researchers that write about possible conspiracies lack credibility. There has been much propaganda to discredit them and their work. They are called zany, dishonest, and greedy and their claims are said to be baseless and off the wall. Furthermore they are accused of undermining their own institutions, government and country. Before a serious historian can zero in on whom the reliable researchers are and focus on the soundness of their arguments, they have to cut through clutter caused by hostile, omnipresent anti-conspiracy messaging as well as the cast of shaky researchers peddling low quality work.
This article focuses on what interested historians can easily learn from the official investigations and the opinions and statements from the actual investigators, lawyers, and staff members who were involved in six investigations that were mostly (all but one) government initiated and managed. The Warren Commission was the first one, the one most historians count on almost entirely for their writings, and as we will see, it is the most obsolete and least reliable.
For an historian who finds research on this issue very daunting, this should serve as a starting point – especially for those who, as they did with the Warren Commission Report, have faith in their government institutions and their representatives. What follows is what can be learned from not only the official investigation reports but from the mouths of those who were direct participants in them ... the real insiders: Those who were mandated and given special powers to access witnesses and evidence! It therefore discounts the theories and opinions of independent authors.
It may prove difficult to fluff off these sources as being zany, dishonest and greedy ... Doing so would suggest a far-fetched governmental conspiracy to deceive its own people and undermine important American institutions.
It is this author’s opinion that historians are disrespecting the American Historical Association statement of conduct about honoring the historical record when they assert that Oswald alone assassinated the president based on the conclusions of the Warren Commission. If they read this article and continue to do so, their actions cannot be blamed on mere ignorance of the facts, or confusion caused by obfuscators. Thereafter, if the historian does not feel compelled to dig deeper to find out what really happened, then the word unforgivable should be added to the word subservient – at least on this issue – when describing their performance. Especially when one considers the age of the subjects who are victimized in what is supposed to be a learning environment.
If they continue to cite the Warren Commission as their key source, they may want to consider taking up smoking cigarettes; after all some of the first studies about this product concluded that it was good for your health.
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (aka The Warren Commission)
Established on November 29, 1963, it was set up by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the November 22, 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. The Commission presented an 888-page report[ii] and twenty-six volumes of evidence on September 24, 1964. Its major conclusions were that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing JFK and that nightclub owner Jack Ruby also acted alone in killing Oswald two days later.
The Commission had "not found evidence" linking either Oswald or Ruby to a conspiracy. (WR, p. 21)
The first hint of dissension among the members of the commission is the following bewildering statement in the report which points to a rift concerning the Single Bullet theory and Connally’s testimony: "Although it is not necessary to any essential findings of the Commission to determine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive evidence from the experts to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President’s throat also caused Governor Connally’s wounds. However, Governor Connally’s testimony and certain other factors have given rise to some difference of opinion as to this probability but there is no question in the mind of any member of the Commission that all the shots which caused the President’s and the Governor’s wounds were fired from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository." (WR, Page 19)
What is not being said directly here is that certain members of the Commission, as well as John Connally and his wife, did not believe that a single bullet caused all seven wounds, which is in fact necessary to the essential conclusions. Because if one bullet caused Kennedy’s head wound and another caused bystander James Tague’s injury, then for Oswald to be the lone shooter, he would have had to have caused all remaining seven wounds with his only other shot, because even the Warren Commission acknowledges that Oswald could not have fired more than three shots.
Statements and opinions of Warren Commission members, consultants and investigators
While most historians continue to place their faith in the Warren Commission, it is most noteworthy that an important number of important participants in the investigation had serious doubts about crucial elements in the report.
Roger Craig – Dallas Deputy Sheriff
Roger Craig was very well regarded up until the assassination. He was on duty and in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination. In a number of interviews he explains what he witnessed on November 22, 1963: He was in the Book Depository when the alleged murder weapon was found which he confirmed as a Mauser and not the Mannlicher-Carcano that the Warren Commission claimed Oswald owned. (Contrary to what some have written, the brand name Mauser and the calibre are stamped on some editions of the Mauser rifle; see here The Mauser, the Carcano and the Lt. Day Rifle ) Furthermore Craig claimed to have seen Oswald entering a station wagon a few minutes after the assassination, which would contradict the Warren Commission’s chronology of Oswald’s movements and implicated a getaway driver – the following is part of his Warren Commission testimony:
Roger Craig: I drove up to Fritz' office about, oh, after 5 ... about 5:30 or something like that and talked to Captain Fritz and told him what I had saw. And he took me in his office ... I believe it was his office ... . it was a little office, and had the suspect sitting in a chair behind a desk ... beside the desk. And another gentleman, I didn't know him, he was sitting in another chair to my left as I walked in the office. And Captain Fritz asked me "was this the man I saw" and I said, "Yes," it was.
David Belin: All right. Will you describe the man you saw in Captain Fritz' office?
Roger Craig: Oh, he was sitting down but he had the same medium brown hair; it was still ... well, it was kinda wild looking; he was slender, and what I could tell of him sitting there, he was ... short. By that, I mean not myself, I'm five eleven ... he was shorter than I was. And fairly light build.
David Belin: Could you see his trousers?
Roger Craig: No; I couldn't see his trousers at all.
David Belin: What about his shirt?
Roger Craig: I believe, as close as I can remember, a T-shirt ... a white T-shirt.
David Belin: All right. But you didn't see him in a lineup? You just saw him sitting there?
Roger Craig: No; he was sitting there by himself in a chair ... off to one side.
David Belin: All right. Then, what did Captain Fritz say and what did you say and what did the suspect say?
Roger Craig: Captain Fritz then asked ... . "What about this station wagon?" And the suspect interrupted him and said, "That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine" ... I believe is what he said. "Don't try to tie her into this. She had nothing to do with it."
In Craig’s 1971 book When They Kill a President, he describes that many in the DPD despised Kennedy, and how the DPD was excluded from security duties the day of the assassination. The following is David Ratcliffe’s summary of the Book:
... He was a member of a group of men from Dallas County Sheriff James Eric “Bill” Decker‘s office that was directed to stand out in front of the Sheriff‘s office on Main Street (at the corner of Houston) and “take no part whatsoever in the security of that motorcade.” Once he heard the first shot, Roger Craig immediately bolted towards Houston Street. His participation in the formative hours of the investigation during the rest of that day and into the evening included observations and experiences that would have singlehandedly destroyed the entire Warren Commission fairy tale before a grand jury or a Congressional investigation.
Roger Craig was named the Dallas Sheriff‘s Department “Officer of the Year” in 1960 by the Dallas Traffic Commission. He received four promotions while he was Deputy Sheriff. Among the most important events he witnessed: At approximately 12:40 p.m., Craig was standing on the south side of Elm Street when he heard a shrill whistle coming from the north side of Elm and turned to see a man—wearing faded blue trousers and a long sleeved work shirt made of some type of grainy material—come running down the grassy knoll from the direction of the TSBD. He saw a light green Rambler station wagon coming slowly west on Elm Street, pull over to the north curb and pick up the man coming down the hill. By this time the traffic was too heavy for him to be able to reach them before the car drove away going west on Elm.
After witnessing the above scene, Deputy Craig ran to the command post at Elm and Houston to report the incident to the authorities. When he got there and asked who was involved in the investigation, a man turned to him and said “I‘m with the Secret Service.” Craig recounted what he had just seen. This “Secret Service” man showed little interest in Craig‘s description of the people leaving, but seemed extremely interested in the description of the Rambler to the degree this was the only part of the recounting that he wrote down. Immediately after this Craig was told by Sheriff Decker to help the police search the TSBD. Deputy Craig was one of the people to find the three rifle cartridges on the floor beneath the window on the southeast corner of the sixth floor. Originally, all three were no more than an inch or two apart. One of the three shells was crimped on the end which would have held the slug. It had not been stepped on but merely crimped over on one small portion of the rim. The rest of that end was perfectly round.
He was among those present after the rifle was found. And, along with Deputy Eugene Boone who had first spotted the weapon, was immediately joined by police Lt. Day, Homicide Capt. Fritz, and deputy constable Seymour Weitzman, an expert on weapons who had been in the sporting goods business for many years and was familiar with all domestic and foreign makes. Lt. Day briefly inspected the rifle and handed it to Capt. Fritz who asked if anyone knew what kind of rifle it was. After a close examination, Weitzman declared it to be a 7.65 German Mauser. Capt. Fritz agreed with him. At the moment when Capt. Fritz concurred with Weitzman‘s identification of the rifle, an unknown Dallas police officer came running up the stairs and advised Capt. Fritz that a Dallas policeman had been shot in the Oak Cliff area. Craig instinctively looked at his watch. The time was 1:06 p.m. (The Warren Commission attempted to move this time back beyond 1:15 to create a plausible claim Oswald had reached the Tippit murder scene in a more humanly possible time-frame than would be the case if Tippit had the encounter with his murderer earlier.)
Later in the afternoon Craig received word of Oswald‘s arrest and that he was suspected of being involved in Kennedy‘s murder. He immediately thought of the man running down the grassy knoll and made a telephone call to Capt. Will Fritz to give him the description of the man he had seen. Fritz said Craig‘s description sounded like the man they had and asked him to come take a look. When he saw Oswald in Fritz‘s personal office Deputy Craig confirmed that this was indeed the man, dressed in the same way, that he had seen running down the knoll and into the Rambler. They went into the office together and Fritz told Oswald, “This man (pointing to me) saw you leave.” At which time the suspect replied, “I told you people I did.” Fritz, apparently trying to console Oswald, said, “Take it easy, son—we‘re just trying to find out what happened.” Fritz then said, “What about the car?” Oswald replied, leaning forward on Fritz‘s desk, “That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine—don‘t try to drag her into this.” Sitting back in his chair, Oswald said very disgustedly and very low, “Everybody will know who I am now.”
The fact that Fritz said ‘car’ and this elicited Oswald‘s outburst about a station wagon—that no one else had mentioned—confirms the veracity of Roger Craig‘s story.
Junior counsel for the Warren Commission Dave Belin, was the man who interviewed Roger Craig in April of 1964. After being questioned in what Craig recounts as a very manipulative and selective way, Belin asked “Do you want to follow or waive your signature or sign now?” Craig noted, “Since there was nothing but a tape recording and a stenographer‘s note book, there was obviously nothing to sign. All other testimony which I have read (a considerable amount) included an explanation that the person could waive his signature then or his statement would be typed and he would be notified when it was ready for signature. Belin did not say this to me.” After Craig first saw the transcript in January of 1968 he discovered that the testimony he gave had been changed in fourteen different places.
Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig never changed his account of what he witnessed and experienced on Friday, November 22, 1963. The passage where he describes the methodology employed by David Belin in selectively recording his testimony is highly illuminating and provides us with a glimpse of how the Commission interviewed witnesses in a very controlled way. (And is echoed by the experience of Victoria Adams, another key witness, as described in Barry Ernst’s book, The Girl on the Stairs.) Craig remained convinced, for the rest of this life, that the man entering the Rambler station wagon was Lee Harvey Oswald. He was fired from the Sheriff‘s office on July 4, 1967, and from that day forward he never again could find steady work. Multiple attempts were made on his life, his wife finally left him, and in the end, he allegedly shot himself on May 15, 1975.
|Jesse Curry (Chief of Dallas Police)|
Jesse Curry – Dallas Chief of Police
Curry who was in the motorcade just in front of the president and interviewed Oswald after the assassination is on the record for saying: "There is a possibility that one (a shot) came from in front of us ... By the direction of the blood and the brains of the president from one of the shots, it just seems it would have to be fired from the front ... I can’t say that I could swear that there was one man and one man alone, I think that there is the possibility that there could be another man ... ". He also stated they were never able to place Oswald on the sixth floor with the rifle in his hands.
James Sibert and Francis O’Neill – FBI agents
Sibert and O’Neill witnessed the autopsy in Bethesda and wrote a report about it which disproves the Single Bullet theory and explains why junior counsel Arlen Specter, who interviewed them, prevented them from talking to the Warren Commission and also kept their report hidden.
The eventually declassified report, Sibert’s deposition to the ARRB and his interview with William Matson Law for his 2005 book In the Eye of History: Disclosures in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence do not help Specter’s case whatsoever:
|James Sibert (FBI)|
Law: Here's a piece I don't know what to think of. He said – Custer again – he's talking about finding a bullet fragment in the autopsy room. I've talked to quite a few people and no one else remembers this: "I called one of the pathologists over and said, 'Hey, we have a bullet here.' As soon as they heard that, they came down off the raised platform, they ran over and then picked it up. Then Sibert and O'Neill also came over and said, `Well, we want that.'
Sibert: We never ... the only thing we took position of, William, was a little jar with bullet fragments that had been removed from the brain. You know, metal particles?
Law: That's the only thing I've ever had reported to me, and Mr. Custer has since passed away.
Sibert: I don't remember anything about a bullet – you know they couldn't find that bullet wound in the back – and they probed that and there was no exit. So, I said, "Well, let me go and call over at the lab, see if there is any kind of an ice bullet that might have fragmentized completely." That was when I called agent Killion over at the lab, and he said, "Have you learned about the bullet they found under the stretcher over at Parkland?" Now, I came back and reported that to Humes, the chief pathologist, and that's the only – I never saw that bullet. They were sending that bullet in, but it didn't come into the autopsy room. I think they flew it into the Washington area, and that went directly to the FBI laboratory, the firearms section.
Law: I've talked to Mr. O'Neill quite a bit about this and asked him about his belief in the single-bullet theory, and he said, "Absolutely not, it did not happen!"
Sibert: Well, you can put me in the same category! Have you read Arlen Specter's latest book, Passion For Truth?"
Law: No, I haven't. I do not believe in the single-bullet theory from all I've read, and how can ...
Sibert: I told them before they asked me to come up for the [ARRB] deposition, I said: "Well, before I come up, I want to tell you one thing: I don't buy the single bullet theory." And they said, "We don't expect you to."
Law: Yes, when I talked to Mr. O'Neill, he was adamant that it did not happen.
Sibert: In the first place, they moved the bullet wound, the one in the back. See, I don't know if you recall, but over at Parkland, they weren't even aware of the back wound, because they had a big fight over there as to who had jurisdiction. Texas had a law that any kind of a murder done in Texas, the autopsy had to be performed there. They didn't know about the back wound. But they get to Bethesda – here's the pathetic part – they found the wound in the back, of course, they took the wound in the neck as a straight tracheotomy and they didn't find out that it was a bullet wound until the next morning when they called Parkland.
Law: Do you think it was a straight tracheotomy?
Sibert: Oh! They said over there that the ... I forget who the doctor was there but he said he made that tracheotomy right over a bullet wound.
Law: That was Malcolm Perry.
Sibert: Perry, yeah. And you know, a lot of them over there said first that they thought it was an entrance wound. So, you had Parkland not knowing about the back wound, you had Bethesda not knowing about the bullet wound in the neck, taking it as a tracheotomy; which really gets you off on the right foot.
Law: Were you surprised you weren't called before the Warren Commission?
Sibert: I was at the time, but now I can understand why.
Law: Why do you think you weren't called?
Sibert: Why? In other words, with that single-bullet theory, if they went in there and asked us to pinpoint where the bullet entered the back and the measurements and all that stuff, how are you going to work it? See, the way they got the single-bullet theory, was by moving that back wound up to the base of the neck.
... Law: I was going to ask you to tell me your thoughts on Mr. Specter and the single-bullet theory.
Sibert: Well I – that single-bullet theory – when they had me come up to the ARRB deposition there at College Park, I said, "Well before I come up there, I want you to know one thing. I'm not an advocate of the single-bullet theory." I said, "I don't believe it because I stood there two foot from where that bullet wound was in the back, the one that they eventually moved up to the base of the neck. I was there when Boswell made his face sheet and located that wound exactly as we described it in the FD 302." And I said, "Furthermore, when they examined the clothing after it got into the Bureau, those bullet holes in the shirt and the coat were down 5 inches there. So there is no way that bullet could have gone that low then rise up and come out the front of the neck, zigzag and hit Connally and then end up pristine on a stretcher over there in Dallas."
Law: You don't believe in the single-bullet theory. Period.
Sibert: There is no way I will swallow that. They can't put enough sugar on it for me to bite it. That bullet was too low in the back.
Law: Where do you remember seeing it, exactly? Your partner, Frank O'Neill, if I remember right, credits you with finding the bullet hole in the back.
Sibert: Well, let me clarify that. When they had the body over at Parkland, they had a shoving match between the fellow who was going to do the autopsy who said that the autopsy had to be done in Texas – and they were going to do it there – and you had Kellerman telling them that he had orders from the Secret Service and also from Bobby Kennedy that it was going to be done in Washington. At Parkland, they never knew there was a bullet wound in the back. That body left there and they did not know about the bullet wound in the back. Then, Bethesda did not know there was a bullet wound where the tracheotomy was made. So that is a pathetic situation. It could have been handled if they had made a phone call. The smart thing to have done – if there hadn't been such animosity between the partners over there – put one of those Parkland doctors on Air Force One to come right into Bethesda and say, "Here's what we did." And the clothing should have come in with the body. But they held the clothing – they didn't even undo the tie over there at Parkland and there was a nick in the knot – and here you had this entrance or exit wound in the throat where the tracheotomy was.
Law also interviewed O’Neill:
Law: Were you surprised you were not called before the Warren Commission?
O'Neill: Yes. Because we had pertinent information and the information that was given to the Warren Commission as a result of our interview with Mr. Specter was not a hundred percent accurate ....
Law: I have your testimony to the ARRB. They asked you about the bullet wound in the throat and you said, "Well, I question it. I'll tell you more later." Why did you question the bullet wound to the throat?
O'Neill: Because there was no such thing as a bullet wound in the throat at that particular time. We only learned about the bullet wound in the throat in particular – well, let me see – we learned about that after the doctors – not "we" – but it was learned by the doctors who performed the autopsy after they had called down to Dallas to speak to the hospital. Ah, I think it was Malcolm Perry?
Law: Malcolm Perry was the attending physician.
O'Neill: That's the only time that they became aware that there was a bullet wound in the throat.
Law: Do you believe there was a bullet wound in the throat?
O'Neill: I have no idea. It was not a question – I mean it was a question – there was not a question in my mind about a bullet wound in the throat, it just never came up. It was a tracheotomy, period, until we found out that it was performed over the bullet wound – over a wound – because they weren't sure it was a bullet wound at that time.
As Law concluded, “O'Neill and Sibert are adamant that the single-bullet theory is wrong. 'That's Arlen Specter's theory,' O'Neill told me. It's quite evident from my conversations with them that they have no respect for the one-time assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, now Senator from Pennsylvania. When I questioned Jim Sibert about the single-bullet theory and Arlen Specter, he went as far as to say, 'What a liar. I feel he got his orders from above – how far above I don't know.'"
The single-bullet theory is key to the "lone-nut" scenario. If, in fact, a bullet did not hit Kennedy in the back, come out his throat, hit Governor Connally in the back, exit his right chest, slam into his right wrist, breaking the bone and cutting the radial nerve, and then pierce his left thigh and fall out in remarkably pristine condition onto a stretcher at Parkland Hospital, then there was more than one assassin and, hence, conspiracy. The single-bullet theory is the linchpin of the government case against Lee Harvey Oswald. If the theory is false, the lone-assassin concept crumbles to dust.
Alex Rosen – Former FBI Assistant Director
Alex Rosen told the Committee (Church Committee testimony) that the FBI was not actively investigating a conspiracy, but was "in the position of standing on the corner with our pockets open, waiting for someone to drop information into it ... " (Source: Mary Ferrell Foundation)
Charles Shaffer – Staff member – Former Justice Department Investigator
In a 2014 Washington Post interview Charles Shaffer admitted that he now thinks that JFK was assassinated as a result of a mob-related conspiracy involving Santos Trafficante and Carlos Marcello. He also claimed that Warren’s biggest blunder was not allowing Ruby to testify in Washington where he may have exposed a conspiracy.
Alfredda Scobey – Staff member – Law assistant to court of appeal State of Georgia
Scobey wrote down notes taking the position of what a defense lawyer for Oswald could have argued with respect to the evidence presented by the Warren Commission. Her observations underscore many problems the prosecution would have faced including: The denial of Oswald’s right to legal counsel; the inadmissibility of his wife’s testimony; the poor quality of Helen Markham as witness to the Tippit assassination; the number of witnesses that refused to identify Oswald as Tippit’s assassin; the lack of pertinence of the Walker incident; the evidence obtained from the Paines’ without a warrant; the chain of possession of the rifle, etc.
Burt Griffin and Leon Hubert – Assistant counsels
Burt Griffin and Leon Hubert were charged with investigating Jack Ruby and while they had not concluded that Ruby was involved in a conspiracy, they were clearly not satisfied with the investigation and information transferred to them by the FBI or CIA. This is made clear by memos written by them and answers Judge Griffin gave in his HSCA testimony.
Lisa Pease, in an August 1995 Probe article, gives a good summary of the memos:
... Assistant counsels to the Warren Commission Burt Griffin and Leon Hubert wrote, in a memo to the Warren Commission members dated March 20, 1964, that "the most promising links between Jack Ruby and the assassination of President Kennedy are established through underworld figures and anti-Castro Cubans, and extreme right-wing Americans." Two months later, Griffin and Hubert wrote another memo to the Commission, significantly titled "Adequacy of the Ruby Investigation" in which they warned, "We believe that a reasonable possibility exists that Ruby has maintained a close interest in Cuban affairs to the extent necessary to participate in gun sales or smuggling."
Ruby had talked about it himself while in jail, reportedly telling a friend, "They're going to find out about Cuba. They're going to find out about the guns, find out about New Orleans, find out about everything." Tales of Ruby running guns to Cuba abounded in the FBI reports taken in the first weeks after the assassination, yet neither the Warren Commission nor the House Select Committee pursued those leads very far. Griffin and Hubert expressed concern over this, saying that "neither Oswald's Cuban interests in Dallas nor Ruby's Cuban activities have been adequately explored."
Hubert and Griffin expressed in their memo of May 14 to Rankin that "we believe that the possibility exists, based on evidence already available, that Ruby was involved in illegal dealings with Cuban elements who might have had contact with Oswald. The existence of such dealings can only be surmised since the present investigation has not focused on that area." They expressed concern that "Ruby had time to engage in substantial activities in addition to the management of his Clubs" and that "Ruby has always been a person who looked for money-making 'sidelines'." They even suggested that since the Fort Worth manufacturer of the famous "Twist Board" Ruby was demonstrating the night after the assassination had no known sales, and was manufactured by an oil field equipment company, that "[t]he possibility remains that the 'twist board' was a front for some other illegal enterprise." But what Griffin and Hubert kept coming back to is that there was "much evidence" that Ruby "was interested in Cuban matters”, citing his relationship to Louis McWillie; his attempted sale of jeeps to Castro, his reported attendance of meetings "in connection with the sale of arms to Cubans and the smuggling out of refugees"; and Ruby's quick correction of Wade's remark that Oswald was a member of the Free Cuba Committee, a group populated with such notables as Clare Booth Luce, Admiral Arleigh Burke, and CIA journalistic asset Hal Hendrix: "Bits of evidence link Ruby to others who may have been interested in Cuban affairs."
During his HSCA testimony, Griffin made it clear that the requests to investigate Ruby further were not followed up on.
In the documentary The Killing of President Kennedy, Griffin is even blunter: "I feel betrayed ... the CIA lied to us ..." He goes on to state CIA concealed their efforts to kill Castro and their links with the mafia, which would have been very important for the investigation. Griffin is also on the record as saying: "In any area where Oswald’s relation to the FBI ... We could not trust Hoover". This is important because the Warren Commission had very little investigative resources and relied heavily on the FBI for information gathering.
Senator Richard Russell – Warren Commissioner
|Sen. Richard Russell|
“They were trying to prove that the same bullet that hit Kennedy first was the one that hit Connally, went through him and through his hand, his bone, into his leg and everything else. … The commission believes that the same bullet that hit Kennedy hit Connally. Well, I don’t believe it.” … "And so I couldn’t sign it. And I said that Governor Connally testified directly to the contrary, and I’m not going to approve of that. So I finally made them say there was a difference in the commission, in that part of them believed that that wasn’t so. And of course if a fellow was accurate enough to hit Kennedy right in the neck on one shot and knock his head off in the next one … and he’s leaning up against his wife’s head … and not even wound her … why, he didn’t miss completely with that third shot. But according to their theory, he not only missed the whole automobile, but he missed the street! Well, a man that’s a good enough shot to put two bullets right into Kennedy, he didn’t miss that whole automobile."
Just before his death Russell said publically that he believed that someone else worked with Oswald.
Senator John Cooper – Commissioner
|Sen. John Sherman Cooper|
Senator John Cooper is also on the record for having written about the Single Bullet theory: “it seems to me that Governor Connally’s statement negates such a conclusion.” He later confirmed his stance in an interview for the BBC documentary The Killing of President Kennedy.
Congressman Hale Boggs – Commissioner
Boggs was neither convinced that Oswald was the assassin, nor that Ruby acted alone. According to legal advisor Bernard Fensterwald:
|Rep. Hale Boggs|
"Almost from the beginning, Congressman Boggs had been suspicious over the FBI and CIA's reluctance to provide hard information when the Commission's probe turned to certain areas, such as allegations that Oswald may have been an undercover operative of some sort. When the Commission sought to disprove the growing suspicion that Oswald had once worked for the FBI, Boggs was outraged that the only proof of denial that the FBI offered was a brief statement of disclaimer by J. Edgar Hoover. It was Hale Boggs who drew an admission from Allen Dulles that the CIA's record of employing someone like Oswald might be so heavily coded that the verification of his service would be almost impossible for outside investigators to establish."
According to one of his friends: "Hale felt very, very torn during his work (on the Commission) ... he wished he had never been on it and wished he'd never signed it (the Warren Report)." Another former aide argued that, "Hale always returned to one thing: Hoover lied his eyes out to the Commission – on Oswald, on Ruby, on their friends, the bullets, the gun, you name it."
Congressman Gerald Ford – Warren Commissioner
|Pres. Valéry |
In public Gerald Ford was a staunch defender of the Warren Commission’s findings and conclusions, describing the report as a Gibraltar of factual literature. However, in private he seems to have held a very different discourse.
Valérie Giscard D’Estaing, ex-president of France, claimed the following in an interview he gave to RTL:
Gerald Ford (president of the United States from 1974 to 1977, editor’s note) was a member of the Warren Commission», he resumes. «Once I was making a car trip with him, he was then President as I was myself. I said to him: 'Let me ask you an indiscreet question: you were on the Warren Commission, what conclusions did you arrive at?' He told me: 'It's not a satisfactory one. We arrived at an initial conclusion: it was not the work of one person, it was something set up. We were sure that it was set up. But we were not able to discover by whom.'»
In 1997 the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) released a document that revealed that Ford had altered the first draft of the Warren Report to read: "A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine."
LBJ – President
In a 1969 interview with Walter Cronkite, Lyndon Johnson said that he had not completely discounted the possibility of international connections to the murder.
Comments about the Warren Commission
As we can see, the conclusions of the Warren Commission are far from convincing, for they are belied by many of those who played important and direct roles in the investigation. Far from the Gibraltar that Gerald Ford referred to, it was on weak footing from the outset and things only went downhill from there.
It is clearly unsound for historians to refer to the Warren Commission as their key and only source when describing Ruby and Oswald as lone perpetrators of the crimes related to the November 22, 1963 tragedy. Considering the other government investigations that followed which impeach its modus operandi and many of its conclusions, it is like ignoring a judgement reversal after an appeal and only citing the discredited judgement of the original trial.
The Jim Garrison Investigation
Starting in 1966, New Orleans DA Jim Garrison investigated the assassination. This led to the 1969 trial of Clay Shaw, a well-known local businessman, who was accused of being part of a conspiracy. While the jury found Shaw not guilty, according to Mark Lane – who had advised Garrison – most jurors felt there had nevertheless been a conspiracy.
This investigation shed light on many, up to then under-reported, issues. Let us consider some of them:
- Garrison demonstrated that Oswald, while in New Orleans in the spring and summer of 1963, was seen handing out Fair Play for Cuba flyers. For which he received a lot of negative publicity in conservative New Orleans. However, in what seems to have been a blunder, some of these flyers had the address of 544 Camp Street on them. That faux pas placed his supposed office virtually within Guy Bannister`s detective office, which was, according to Garrison, really a CIA-linked hub for organizing Cuban exile paramilitary operations to overthrow Castro, and also Communist witch-hunts.
- Many witnesses confirmed associations of Oswald with Bannister, David Ferrie and Clay Shaw, who Garrison linked with the CIA.
- Garrison argued that Oswald`s learning of the Russian language while a marine, and his journey into the USSR demonstrated his links to intelligence. He also concluded that Oswald’s Fair Play for Cuba role was an attempt to sheep-dip him as a pro-Castro villain.
- Garrison was also probably the first person to cast doubt on a strange trip Oswald allegedly made to Mexico in September 1963.
- Pierre Finck, who was part of the Bethesda autopsy team, during his testimony at the Clay Shaw trial demonstrated just how incompetently the autopsy was conducted and how the pathologists were being controlled by high-level military officers.
- During the Shaw trial, for the first time, Garrison showed the jury the Zapruder film, and demonstrated the weaknesses of the lone shooter claim.
Francis Fruge – Garrison case investigator – Louisana State Police Lieutenant
Francis Fuge’s entry into the case actually began a few days before the assassination when he first encountered and questioned Rose Cheramie, a heroin addicted call girl and drug courier, who predicted the assassination, and talked about her links with Jack Ruby while she was hospitalized from November 20-22, 1963. He met her again right after the murder. Fruge later became an important investigator for Jim Garrison. His account of this extremely incriminating story was summarized in a thoroughly documented July 1999 Probe Magazine article:
As Fruge so memorably recalled to Jonathan Blackmer of the HSCA, Cheramie summed up her itinerary in Dallas in the following manner: “She said she was going to, number one, pick up some money, pick up her baby, and to kill Kennedy.” (p. 9 of Fruge’s 4/18/78 deposition)
At the hospital, Cheramie again predicted the assassination. Again, before it happened on November 22nd, to more than one nurse. The nurses, in turn, told others of Cheramie’s prognostication. (Memo of Frank Meloche to Louis Ivon, 5/22/67). Further, according to a psychiatrist there, Dr. Victor Weiss, Rose "...told him that she knew both Ruby and Oswald and had seen them sitting together on occasions at Ruby’s club." (Ibid., 3/13/67) In fact, Fruge later confirmed the fact that she had worked as a stripper for Ruby. (Louisiana State Police report of 4/4/67.)
Fruge had discounted Cheramie’s earlier comments to him as drug-induced delusions. Or, as he said to Blackmer, "When she came out with the Kennedy business, I just said, wait a minute, wait a minute, something wrong here somewhere." (Fruge, HSCA deposition, p. 9)
He further described her in this manner:
"Now, bear in mind that she talked: she’d talk for a while, looks like the shots would have effect on her again and she’d go in, you know, she’d just get numb, and after awhile she’d just start talking again." (Ibid.)
But apparently, at the time of the assassination Cheramie appeared fine. The word spread throughout the hospital that she had predicted Kennedy’s murder in advance. Dr. Wayne Owen, who had been interning from LSU at the time, later told the Madison Capital Times that he and other interns were told of the plot in advance of the assassination. Amazingly, Cheramie even predicted the role of her former boss Jack Ruby because Owen was quoted as saying that one of the interns was told "…that one of the men involved in the plot was a man named Jack Rubinstein." (2/11/68) Owen said that they shrugged it off at the time. But when they learned that Rubinstein was Ruby they grew quite concerned. "We were all assured that something would be done about it by the FBI or someone. Yet we never heard anything." (Ibid.) In fact, Cheramie’s association with Ruby was also revealed to Dr. Weiss. For in an interview with him after the assassination, Rose revealed that she had worked as a drug courier for Jack Ruby. (Memo of Frank Meloche to Jim Garrison, 2/23/67) In the same memo, there is further elaboration on this important point:
"I believe she also mentioned that she worked in the night club for Ruby and that she was forced to go to Florida with another man whom she did not name to pick up a shipment of dope to take back to Dallas, that she didn’t want to do this thing but she had a young child and that they would hurt her child if she didn’t."
These comments are, of course, very revealing about Ruby’s role in both an intricate drug smuggling scheme and, at the least, his probable acquaintance with men who either had knowledge of, or were actually involved in, the assassination. This is a major point in this story which we will return to later.
Although Fruge had discounted the Cheramie story on November 20th, the events of the 22nd made him a believer. Right after JFK’s murder, Fruge "…called that hospital up in Jackson and told them by no way in the world to turn her loose until I could get my hands on her." (Fruge’s HSCA deposition, p. 12.) So on November 25th, Fruge journeyed up to Jackson State Hospital again to talk to Cheramie. This time he conducted a much more in-depth interview. Fruge found out that Cheramie had been traveling with the two men from Miami. He also found that the men seemed to be a part of the conspiracy rather than to be just aware of it. After the assassination, they were supposed to stop by a home in Dallas to pick up around eight thousand dollars plus Rose’s baby. From there Cheramie was supposed to check into the Rice Hotel in Houston under an assumed name. Houston is in close proximity to Galveston, the town from which the drugs were coming in. From Houston, once the transaction was completed, the trio were headed for Mexico.
How reliable a witness was Cheramie? Extermely. Fruge decided to have the drug deal aspect of her story checked out by the state troopers and U. S. Customs. The officers confirmed the name of the seaman on board the correct ship coming into Galveston. The Customs people checked the Rice Hotel and the reservations had been made for her under an assumed name. The contact who had the money and her baby was checked and his name showed that he was an underworld, suspected narcotics dealer. Fruge checked Cheramie’s baggage and found that one box had baby clothes and shoes inside.
Fruge flew Cheramie from Louisiana to Houston on Tuesday, the 26th. In the back seat of the small Sesna 180, a newspaper was lying between them. One of the headlines read to the effect that "investigators or something had not been able to establish a relationship between Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald." (Fruge’s HSCA deposition p. 19) When Cheramie read this headline, she started to giggle. She then added, "Them two queer sons-of-a-bitches. They’ve been shacking up for years." (Ibid.) She added that she knew this to be true from her experience of working for Ruby. Fruge then had his superior call up Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas Police to relay what an important witness Cheramie could be in his investigation. Fruge related what followed afterwards:
Colonel Morgan called Captain Fritz up from Dallas and told him what we had, the information that we had, that we had a person that had given us this information. And of course there again it was an old friend, and there was a little conversation. But anyway, when Colonel Morgan hung up, he turned around and told us they don’t want her. They’re not interested.
Fruge then asked Cheramie if she wished to try telling her tale to the FBI. She declined. She did not wish to involve herself further.
Aftermath of the Garrison case and general comments
Perhaps no other person who believed there was a conspiracy was vilified more than Jim Garrison. He has been called a charlatan, a publicity-seeker and crazy, among other things. With time however, many of his claims have been vindicated. While some described his case as a farce, it is often overlooked that Garrison had presented his evidence beforehand to a three-judge panel who concluded that he was justified to bring it to court, and that the subsequent HSCA investigation concluded that Garrison and his office "had established an association of an undetermined nature between Ferrie, a suspect in the assassination of President Kennedy, and Clay Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald" – a devastating blow to Garrison detractors.
Other information from later investigations reveals that his efforts were sabotaged by adversaries who infiltrated his volunteer team and weakened his efforts; well-orchestrated propaganda attacking both his case and reputation; refusals to his subpoenas for out-of-state witnesses and the harassment, turning and untimely deaths of some of his key witnesses, including the suspicious deaths of star-witness David Ferrie and the murder of Eladio Del Valle. Other evidence that began to emerge showed that Clay Shaw, despite his denials, was in fact a CIA asset and part of a CIA organization of interest called Permindex.
To form their own opinion about Garrison, historians who are not of a pre-judging nature or overly stubborn are advised to read his highly revealing Playboy interview and his book: On the Trail of the Assassins.
The United States President's Commission on CIA Activities within the United States (The Rockefeller Commission)
After a 1974 New York Times report on illegal acts committed by the CIA, Gerald Ford set up the Rockefeller Commission headed by his Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller in 1975. It publicized the CIA MK/Ultra mind control experiments and revealed its illegal mail opening and US protester surveillance programs (MH/Chaos). It also held a very narrow investigation into the Kennedy assassination focusing on the Zapruder film, some of the medical evidence and whether Frank Sturgis and E. Howard Hunt, who had just gained notoriety because of their roles in the Watergate scandal, were involved in the assassination. In a short eighteen-page chapter about the assassination it concluded that the CIA had not been involved and that only three shots were fired from behind the motorcade.
Many distrusted this Commission because of the involvement of key Warren Commission members such as Ford and David Belin. It was largely superseded by the Church and HSCA committees that succeeded it and that were much farther reaching.
It was during this period that, as Daniel Schorr later wrote, Ford let slip the bombshell that the CIA had been involved in assassinations. Which, as we saw previously, he probably learned about on the Warren Commission. But CIA Director Bill Colby then spun this to mean the assassination of foreign leaders.
United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (The Church Committee)
This U.S. Senate Committee was chaired by Senator Frank Church and issued 14 reports in 1975 and 1976 after interviewing hundreds of witnesses and studying thousands of files from the FBI, CIA and other agencies.
It delved into U.S. assassination plots against foreign leaders, which were a key component of CIA regime control or change operations. Their targets included Congo’s Lumumba, Castro of Cuba, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. Schneider of Chile, President Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Ex CIA leader Allen Dulles’ pact with the mafia to assassinate Castro was also part of their findings. This information, which could have impacted the Warren Commission investigation, was kept secret by Dulles while he was one of its commissioners.
Volume 4 of the report sheds light on HT/LINGUAL, the illegal mail intercept programs involving both the CIA and the FBI.
The Committee also reported on the extent the CIA partnered with media and academia, in an effort to control the media, later called Operation Mockingbird: "The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets."
Lead by Senators Gary Hart and Richard Schweiker, the Church Committee also conducted a focused investigation (Book 5) of the Kennedy assassination, concentrating on how the FBI and CIA supported the Warren Commission. Its report was very critical of these agencies: " ... developed evidence which impeaches the process by which the intelligence agencies arrived at their own conclusions about the assassination, and by which they provided information to the Warren Commission. This evidence indicates that the investigation of the assassination was deficient."
If this conclusion does not shake historians blind faith in the Blue Ribbon Warren Commission, perhaps comments from the sub-committee leaders might help create some doubt.
Senator Gary Hart
An interview Hart gave to the Denver Post after his stint on the committee clearly showed that he did not buy the Warren Commission depiction of Oswald, nor did he find that the FBI and the CIA were transparent with what they knew:
"Who Oswald really was – who did he know? What affiliation did he have in the Cuban network? Was his public identification with the left-wing a cover for a connection with the anti-Castro right-wing?"
Hart believed that Oswald was a double agent which was one of the reasons why the FBI and CIA had made "a conscious decision to withhold evidence from the Warren Commission."
During the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination Hart was interviewed by the Huffington Post and one can only deduce that his views about the inadequacy of the Warren Commission investigation and mainstream media’s efforts into getting to the bottom of things had hardened based on the following statements:
“It’s amazing to me that American journalism never followed up on that story very much, because if you found out who killed those two guys, you might have some really interesting information on your hands.”
“I went down to Miami when [Johnny] Roselli was killed and talked to this Dade County sheriff from the Miami Police Department, and they showed me pictures of him being fished out of the water in the barrel and how he’d been killed — nightmarish stuff. And [Momo Salvatore] Giancana was killed in his own basement with six bullet holes in his throat with a Chicago police car and an FBI car outside his house.”
“I was always amazed in that particular instance of the CIA-Mafia connection and the Cuban connection 12 years — coming up 12 years — after Kennedy was killed that somebody didn’t go after that story ... New York Times, Washington Post, anybody. And they didn’t. They reported the deaths and that was it, and the strange quirky coincidence, you know, but nothing more."
“You don’t have to be a genius to believe that they knew something about the coincidence of events — Cuba, Mafia, CIA and Kennedy — that somebody didn’t want that out in the public 12 years later.”
|Sen. Gary Hart|
The article also underscores the following intriguing insight: According to Hart, the Warren Commission — the presidential commission charged with investigating Kennedy’s assassination that concluded Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone — remained unaware of the connections between Cuba, the CIA, the Mafia and Kennedy. Only then-CIA director Allen Dulles, who was on the commission, knew, according to Hart, but Dulles said nothing to the other members.
During a day-long symposium in May 2015 featuring former Church Committee members and staff, held by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law at the Constance Milstein and Family Global Academic Center of the New York University in Washington, D.C, Hart on a panel with former Church Committee Colleague Senator Mondale, added this powerful affirmation:
" ... THE THREE MAFIA FIGURES INVOLVED IN THE CASTRO PLOT WITH THE CIA. WE HEARD FROM ONE OF THEM TWICE. THE 2nd TIME – THE 1st TIME HE CAME AND WENT WITH NO PUBLIC NOTICE AT ALL. HIGHLY SECRET. THE QUESTIONS OBVIOUSLY WERE WHO ORDERED CASTRO KILLED, WHAT ROLE DID YOU PLAY SO FORTH. I FELT AT THE TIME THAT HE WAS GENERALLY FORTHCOMING HE STILL KNEW A LOT HE WASN'T TELLING US. HE WENT HOME TO MIAMI AND DISAPPEARED AND ENDED UP DEAD. HE WAS IN HIS 70s. AND MAFIA TIMES IN THOSE DAYS THAT WAS RETIREMENT. FOR THE REST OF US NOW IT'S MIDDLE-AGED. THE 2nd FIGURE WAS PROBABLY THE TOP MAFIA FIGURE IN AMERICA. PREPARED TO SUBPOENA HIM WITH THE HOUSE COMMITTEE. HE WAS KILLED IN HIS BASEMENT. KILLED IN HIS BASEMENT WITH SIX BULLET HOLES IN HIS THROAT. NEITHER OF THESE CRIMES HAVE BEEN SOLVED. NOW, BY AND LARGE THE MEDIA INCLUDED WITH THESE WERE DISMISSED AS MAFIA STUFF. THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THEY WERE KILLED IN CONNECTION WITH OUR COMMITTEE. THE QUESTION IS WHY? WHO DID IT AND WHY? "
Sen. Richard Schweiker
|Sen. Richard Schweiker|
Schweiker’s comments are even more explosive.
In 1975 he made the following statement to the Village Voice: "We do know Oswald had intelligence connections. Everywhere you look with him, there are fingerprints of intelligence."
In 1976 he told CBS News that the CIA and FBI lied to the Warren Commission and that the case could be solved if they followed hot new leads. He also claimed that the White House was part of the cover up.
In a BBC documentary the Killing of President Kennedy he made the following blistering statement about the Warren Commission investigation:
"The Warren Commission has in fact collapsed like a house of cards and I believe it was set up at the time to feed pabulum to the American people for reasons not yet known, and one of the biggest cover-ups in the history of our country occurred at that time."…
"The most important thing was that the intelligence agencies did all the wrong things if they were really looking for a conspiracy or to find out who killed John Kennedy."…
"The key is why did they let him (Oswald) bring a Russian-born wife out contrary to present Russian policy, he had to get special dispensation from the highest levels to bring his Russian-born wife out, that in itself says somebody was giving Oswald highest priority either because we had trained and sent him there and they went along and pretended they did not know to fake us out, or they had in fact inculcated him and sent him back and were trying to fake us out, but he had gotten a green light no other American had gotten."
In the documentary he goes on to say that the highest levels of government were behind him and his committee being mislead, and were continuing the cover-up and also that Oswald was clearly involved with pro-Castro and anti-Castro groups, which smacks of an intelligence role as a double agent, and that these relationships were not investigated.
In an interview Bob Tanenbaum (first Deputy Counsel for the HSCA) gave to Probe Magazine, here is how he describes an exchange he had with Schweiker where the senator directly accuses the CIA:
Q: One of the more interesting subjects you've mentioned in some of your talks is this meeting you had with Senator Schweiker which, I'm assuming, you give a lot of weight to, because of the evidence and because of who it was coming from.
A: Well, it was shocking! I went up there with Cliff Fenton and Schweiker told me in his opinion the CIA was responsible for the assassination. That's a heck of a statement to come from a United States Senator and one who had even been Ronald Reagan's running mate in 1976, even though they didn't make it.
Q: Was it just you in the room when he told you that?
A: Yeah, it was just the two of us. I was stunned! He had asked Cliff to leave and he had his own staff people leave. I had that material he had given us which contained all that information about Veciana and the Alpha 66 group and this Bishop character.
Q: When I interviewed Schweiker, one of the last questions I asked him was if he had been on the oversight committee, for which he had not been nominated, which avenue would he have pursued. And he said, "I would have gone after Maurice Bishop."
A: Well, as I said, I was stunned. Even after investigating this case, I'm not going to say that the CIA did it. He was saying it definitively. What the evidence suggested when we were in Washington was there were certain rogue elements who were involved with Bishop and others, the "plumber" types in the Nixon White House, who were involved with Oswald, who were substantially involved with anti-Castro Cubans who, the evidence suggests, were involved in the assassination. I keep saying that the evidence suggested it because we weren't there long enough to make the case. So, there was a short-circuiting that occurred. But, that's the area we were moving inexorably toward. And then I spoke with Gaeton Fonzi and Gaeton would corroborate this to the extent that he worked with Schweiker, he knew what Schweiker's feelings were and he knew all about that file on Veciana. And that's when we asked Gaeton to come on board, because he had worked on the Church senate oversight committee and he had a lot of connections that would be very helpful. And he's a very honest guy.
Comments about the Church Committee
Any conscientious historian who has reached this point in the article and continues to cite the Warren Commission as the key historical record in their textbooks read by unsuspecting students to conclude that Oswald acted alone, that person deserves the scorn of all who entrust academia to help shape the minds of our youth. The case against the Warren Commission made by Government officials so far is devastating; things are about to get even worse. The HSCA investigation into the assassination will turn Gerald Ford’s Gibraltar into a bowl of Jello.
Go to Part 2
Go to Addendum