THE GRAND SUBVERSION, WARREN COMMISSIONS, ( HSCA ) Page ( 2 of 2 ) THE INVESTIGATION OF THE JFK KENNEDYASSASSINATION.
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|EXCERPTS FROM THE HSCA:
THE WARREN COMMISSION
|Why the Commission was formed|
|The Criticisms and Dissents|
|HSCA CONCLUSIONS 1979||How they Investigated|
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JFK KENNEDY ASSASSINATION WARREN COMMISSION MEMBERS.
WARREN COMMISSION MEMBERS.
Hale Boggs--Democratic Representative from Louisiana;
John Sherman Cooper--Republican Senator from Kentucky, former Ambassador to India;
Allen W. Dulles--former Director of the CIA;
Gerald R. Ford--Republican Representative from Michigan;
John J McCloy--former U.S. High Commissioner for Germany and former president of the World Bank;
Richard B. Russell--Democratic Senator from Georgia,
and Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Warren Commission jfk assassination members.
|Dealey Plaza Witnesses PAGES 1 - 8||Bethesda Autopsy PAGES 1 - 5|
2 wittiness in the motorcade
3 wittiness in the motorcade secret service agents
4 Gordon Arnold was he there
shots book dep / knoll
6 more plaza wittiness
7 more plaza wittiness
8 officers / Oswald encounter
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GRAND SUBVERSION ENHANCEMENTS BY BOB DRUK
Some of the FACTS: CLICK IMAGE for the REST OF THE STORY.
|Grand Subversions||"The world will never know the true facts of what occurred "||"I think history will deal with much more then we're able to now."||President Kennedy was probably killed as a result of a conspiracy.|
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[Parkland Hospital]--[Bethesda Autopsy]--[Dallas I]--[Dallas II]--[Shots]--[Magic Single Bullet Theory]--[Oswald I]--[Oswald II]--[Oswald III]--[Oswald VI]
Warren commission, Why the Commission was formed:
On November 25, 1963--the same date as the Katzenbach memorandum President Johnson directed the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation of all the circumstances surrounding the brutal assassination of of President Kennedy and the murder of his alleged assassin." (8)
Then, 2 days later, Senator Everett M. Dirksen proposed in Congress that the Senate Judiciary Committee conduct a full investigation. Congressman Charles E. Goodell proposed that a joint committee composed of seven Senators and seven Representatives conduct an inquiry. In addition to the proposed congressional investigations, Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr announced that a court of inquiry, authorized by Texas law, would be established to investigate the assassination. In his oral history, Leon Jaworski described the creation of the Texas Court of Inquiry:
I saw Lyndon Johnson within a few days after he assumed the Presidency. Waggoner Carr had been *** [interruption]*** heard was that naturally the President--President Johnson--was tremendously concerned over what happened in Dallas from the standpoint of people understanding what really happened. Here and in Europe were all kinds of speculations, you know that this was an effort to get rid of Kennedy and put Johnson in, and a lot of other things. So he immediately called on Waggoner Carr who was attorney general of Texas. Waggoner Carr, following President Kennedy's funeral, appeared on all the networks and made an announcement to that effect. (9)
On November 29, 1963, Walter Jenkins wrote a memorandum to President Johnson, which stated:
Abe [Fortas] has talked with Katzenbach and Katzenbach has talked with the Attorney General. They recommend a seven man commission--two Senators, two Congressmen, the Chief Justice, Allen Dulles, and a retired military man (general or admiral). Katzenbach is preparing a description of how the Commission would function***. (10)
This memorandum also included a list of possible members of the Commission and asked Johnson if they were satisfactory. This list was in fact apparently satisfactory since all of the people noted were appointed to the Commission.
Former Attorney General Katzenbach told the committee:
I doubted that anybody in the Government, Mr. Hoover or the FBI or myself or the President or anyone else, could satisfy a lot of foreign opinion that all facts were being revealed and that the investigation would be complete and conclusive and without any loose ends.
So, from the beginning, I felt that some kind of commission would be desirable for that purpose***that it would be desirable *** for the President to appoint some commission of people who had international and domestic public stature and reputation for integrity that would review all of the investigations and direct any further investigation. (11)
On the same day, President Johnson told Hoover that, although he wanted to "get by" on just the FBI report, the only way to stop the "rash of investigations" was to appoint a high-level committee to evaluate the report.(12) That afternoon President Johnson met with Chief Justice Earl Warren and persuaded him to be chairman of a commission to investigate the assassination. Johnson explained his choice of Warren by stating,"*** I felt that we needed a Republican chairman whose judicial ability and fairness were unquestioned."(13) Although Warren had previously sent word through a third party that he opposed his appointment as chairman,(14) President Johnson persuaded him to serve. In "The Vantage Point," President Johnson stated he told Warren:
When this country is confronted with threatening divisions and suspicions, I
said, and its foundation is being ricked, and the President of the United States
says that you are the only man who can handle the matter, you won't say "no"
In "The Vantage Point", President Johnson presented two considerations he had
at the time. He believed the investigation of the assassination should not be
done by an agency of the executive branch. He stated, "The Commission had to be
composed of men who were beyond pressure and above suspicion."(19) His second
consideration was that the investigation was too large an issue for the Texas
authorities to handle alone.(20)
Apparently, Earl Warren also did not want Texas to conduct the court of inquiry that had been announced earlier by Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr. In his oral history, Leon Jaworski discussed Warren's attitudes and actions regarding the court of inquiry:
I came on to Houston, and then I began to get calls from Katzenbach and from Abe Fortas telling me that they were having a Presidential Commission appointed to go into this matter. This would be to keep Congress from setting up a bunch of committees and going in and maybe having a McCarthy hearing or something like that. The next thing I knew they were telling me, "Leon, you've got to come up here." This was Katzenbach and Fortas both. "Because the Chief (Chief Justice Warren, who had accepted the appointment from the President) doesn't want any part of the court of inquiry in Texas. And I said, "Well, as far as I can see it, there's no need in our doing anything that conflicts-- let's work together." He said, "Well, he doesn't want any part of Waggoner Carr, the attorney general down there, because he said it would just be a political matter." He said, "He respects you and so*** In and event I then went up to Washington, and I had the problem of working this matter out. I must say that Deputy Attorney General Katzenbach was a great help; Solicitor General Archie Cox was of great help. Those two promarily and Waggoner Carr and I worked with them--Katzenbach saw the Chief Justice from time to time, bringing proposals to him from me; the Chief Justice was willing to talk to me without Carr present--I could'nt do that. It finally evolved that--from all these discussions, there finally evolved a solution that we would all meet. We did meet in the Chief's office, and the Chief addressed all his remarks to me and ignored Waggoner Carr, but I would in turn talk to Carr in his presense and direct the question to him and so on. What we did is agree that we would not begin and court inquiry, but that we would be invited into hearings; would have full access to everything. (21)
After this meeting, Leon Jaworski related to President Johnson that the matter of the Texas court of inquiry had been resolved satisfactorily. The President appeared to have been pleased with the result. Jaworski stated:
When we got through with that, I called Walter Jenkins and told him that we thought we had solved it properly, and that I ought to have a word with the President. He said, "By all means. The President is waiting to hear from you."*** I went on over there and he was in the pool; he came immediately to the edge of the pool and shook hands with me. Then I told him what had happened, and that we had worked it out and had worked it out in great shape, and we were going to work together, and everybody was happy and shook hands and patted each other on the back and so on. And that even the Chief Justice had warmed up to Waggoner Carr before the conference broke up. Then Lyndon Johnson looked at me and he said, "Now, Leon, you've done several things for me--many things in fact for me. Now, it's my time to do something for you." I said, Mr. President, there is nothing I want. I don't want you to do anything for me." And so he looked at me and he said, "All right, I'll just send you a Christmas card then." (22)
On the evening of November 29, 1963, President Johnson issued Executive Order No. 11130 that created the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, hereinafter the Warren Commission. The Commission was composed of seven people:
Hale Boggs--Democratic Representative from Louisiana;
John Sherman Cooper--Republican Senator from Kentucky, former Ambassador to India;
Allen W. Dulles--former Director of the CIA;
Gerald R. Ford--Republican Representative from Michigan;
John J McCloy--former U.S. High Commissioner for Germany and former president of the World Bank;
Richard B. Russell--Democratic Senator from Georgia,
and Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
On November 25, 1963, Donald Wilson, acting director of the United States Information Agency, submitted a memorandum to Bill Moyers that discussed world reaction to Oswald's slaying. This memorandum went through each major city and summarized newspaper articles that had appeared regarding Oswald's death. A Tass dispath released after Oswald was killed concluded:
All the circumstances of President Kennedy's tragic death allow one to assume that this murder was planned and carried out by the ultrarightwing, fascist, and racist circles, by those who carried out by those who cannot stomach any step aimed at the easing of international tensions, and the improvement of Soviet-American relations. (29)
On the same day, the New York Times stated in an editorial:
The full story of the assassination and its stunning sequel must be placed before the American people and the world in a responsible way by a responsible source of the U.S. Government *** The killing of the accused assassin does not close the books on the case. In fact, it raises questions which must be answered if we are ever to fathom the depths of the President's terrible death and its aftermath. An objective Federal commission, if necessary, with Members of Congress included, must be appraised of all and tell us all. Much as we would like to obliterate from memory the most disgraceful weekend in our history, a clear explanation must be forthcoming. Not in a spirit of vengeance, not to cover up, but for the sake of information and justice to restore respect for law. (30)
An editorial in the Washington Post stated:
President Lyndon Johnson has widely recognized that energetic steps must be taken to prevent a repetition of the dreadful era of rumor and gossip that followed the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. A century has hardly sufficed to quiet the doubts that arose in the wake of that tragedy. (31)
On November 27, 1963, the New York Times reported a Tass dispatch that severly criticized the Dallas police. On the same day the Washington Post reported that Castro had accused American reactionaries of plotting the assassination to implicate Cuba. The Times also reported that the general feeling in India was that Oswald had been a "tool" and silenced by "enemies of peace." (32) Throughout the world, identical sentiments were being voiced, probably impressing Johnson with the fact that something had to be done.
Warren commission, Their Mission:
In his memoirs, Earl Warren stated that on November 29, 1963, Katzenbach and Solicitor General Archibald Cox met with him and attempted to persuade him to chair the Commission. Warren refused. He related:
***about 3:30 that same afternoon I received a call from the White House asking if I could come to see the President and saying that it was quite urgent. I, of course, said I would do so and very soon therafter I went to his office. I was ushered in and, with only the two of us in the room, he told me of his proposal. He said he was concerned about the wild stories and rumors that were arousing not only our own people but people in other parts of the world. He said that because Oswald had been murdered, there could be no trial emanating from the assassination of President Kennedy, and that unless the facts were explored objectively and conclusions reached that would be respected by the public, it would always remain an open wound with ominous potential. He added that several congressional committees and Texas local and State authorities were contemplating public investigations with television coverage which would compete with each other for public attention, and in the end leave the people more bewildered and emotional than at present. He said he was satisfied that if he appointed a bipartisan Presidential Commission to investigate that facts impartially and report them to a troubled Nation that the people would accept its findings. He told me that he had made up his mind as to the other members, that he has communicated with them, and that they would serve if I would accept the chairmanship. He then named them to me. I then told the President my reasons for not being available for the chairmanship. He replied, "You were a soldier in World War I, but there was nothing you could do in that uniform comparable to what you can do for your country in this hour of trouble." He then told me how serious were the rumors floating around the world. The gravity of the situation was such that it might lead us into war, he said, and, if so, it might be a nuclear war. He went on to tell me that he had just talked to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who had advised him that the first nuclear strike against us might cause the loss of 40 million people.
I then said, "Mr. President, if the situation is that serious, my personal views do not count. I will do it." He thanked me, and I left the White House. (16)
In his oral history, Warren related a similar version of the meeting.(17)
In his appearance before the committee, former President and Commission member Gerald R. Ford, also recalled the appointment of Chief Justice Warren as chairman. He testified:
I believe that Chief Justice Warren accepted the assignment from President Johnson for precisely the same reason that the other six of us did. We ere asked by the President to undertake this responsibilty, as a public duty and service, and despite the reluctance of all of us to add to our then burden or operations we accepted, and I am sure that was the personal reaction and feeling of the Chief Justice.
The purpose of the Warren Commission, as stated in Executive Order No. 11130, were:
To examine the evidence developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and any additional evidence that may hereafter come to light or be uncovered by Federal or State authorities; to make such further investigation as the Commission finds desirable; to evaluate all the facts and circumstances surrounding such assassination, including the subsequent violent death of the man charged with the assassination, and to report to me its findings and conclusions.
Although this may be an accurate statement of some of the purposes of the Warren Commission, there were indications that there wee additional tasks that it was to perform.
It is apparent from some of the statements previously quoted that many members of Government were concerned about convincing the public that Oswald was the assassin and that he acted alone.(23) In addition to the memoranda, referred to earlier, on December 9, 1963, Katzenbach wrote each member of the Warren Commission recommending that the Commission immediately issue a press release stating that the FBI report, which had been submitted to the Warren Commission that same day, clearly showed there was no international conspiracy and that Oswald was a loner.(24)
The Commission did not issue the requested press release. Although in their testimony several of the Warren Commission staff members indicated they were not aware of these memoranda, (25) it is apparent that this purpose was clearly in the minds of some of the people who were in contact with the Warren Commission and the members of the Warren Commission could not have been unaware of the pressure.
Another purpose of the Warren Commission, which was at least apparent to Chief Justice Warren and to President Johnson, was the quashing rumors and speculation. President Johnson was conserned that the public might believe his home State of Texas was involved in the assassination. He was also aware of speculation about Castro's possible participation. President Johnson expressed his consern in "The Vantage Point":
Now, with Oswald dead, even a wounded Governor could not quell the doubts. In
addition, we were aware of stories that Castro, still smarting over the Bay of
Pigs and only lately accusing us of sending CIA agents into the country to
assassinate him, was the perpetrator of the Oswald assassination plot. These
rumors were another compelling reason that a thorough study had to be made of
the Dallas tragedy at once. Out of the Nation's suspicions, out of the Nation's
need for facts, the Warren Commission was born. [Italic added](26)
The Commission met for the first time on December 5, 1963. Chief Justice Earl Warren, who chaired the Commission, expressed his initial attitude toward the Commission's task and their relationship to the agencies:
Gentlemen, this is a very sad and solemn duty that we are undertaking, and I am sure that there is not one of us but what would rather be doing almost anything else that he can think of than to be on a commission of this kind. But it is a tremendously important one. *** Now, I think our job here is essentially one for the evaluation of evidence as distinguished from being one of gathering evidence, and I believe that at the outset at least we can rely upon the reports of the various agencies that have been engaged in investigation of the matter, the FBI, the Secret Service, and others that I may not know about at the present time.
On January 20, 1964, at the first staff meeting of the Warren Commission, Chief Justice Warren discussed the role of the Commission. A memorandum about this meeting described Warren's statements:
He (Warren) placed emphasis on the importance of quenching rumors, and precluding further speculation such as that which has surrounded the death of Lincoln. He emphasized that the Commission had to determine the truth, whatever that might be. (27)
At this meeting, Warren also informed the staff of the disscussion he had had with President Johnson, including the fact that the rumors could lead to a nuclear war which would cost 40 million lives. (28) Both the Chief Justice and President Johnson were obviously concerned about the rumors were not quashed.
The Testimony of several staff members of the Warren Commission supported the conclusion that the Warren Commission had multiple purposes. Staff members testified that the purpose of the Warren Commission was to ascertain the facts of the assassination and to submit a report to the American people.(33) The staff was however, also aware of Chief Justice Warren's fellings. Staff counsel David Slawson stated:
His [Warren's] idea was that the principal function of the Warren Commission was to allay doubts if possible. You know, possible in the sense of being honest. (34)
Staff counsel Arlen Specter described his reaction to Warren's concern about rumors by stating:
*** that was a matter in our minds but we did not tailor our findings to accommodate any interest other than the truth. (35)
Staff consel Norman Redlich believed that the objective of allaying public fears was "a byproduct of the principal objective which was to discover all the facts."(36)
While their statements reflected that staff members were concerned with getting at the truth, there was an additional motive for finding the truth. Staff consel Bert Griffin stated:
I think that it is fair to say, and certainly reflects my feeling, and it was certainly the feeling that I had of all my collegues that we were determined, if we could find something that showed that there had been sommething sinister beyond what appeared to have gone on.*** (37)
I think it is hard to remember 13 years ago what the timing of all these
things was but among the staff members themselves, like when I talked to Jem
Liebeler and Dave Belin and Bert Griffin particularly we would sometimes
speculate at to what would happen if we got firm evidence that pointed to some
very high official. It sounds perhaps silly in retrospect to say it but there
was even rumors at the time, of course, that President Johnson was involved. Of
course, that would present a kind of frightening prospect, because if the
President or anyone that high up was indeed involved, they clearly were not
going to allow someone like us to bring out the truth if they could stop us. The
gist of it was that no one questioned the fact that we would still have to bring
it out and would do our best to bring out just whatever the truth was.
question in our mind was if we came upon such evidence that was at all credible
how would we be able to protect it an bring it to the proper authorities?
Although the staff members' promary concern was the truth, the memers of the Warren Commission, and not the members of its staff, were the final decision makers with regard to what exactly went into the report.
Although the Executive order authorized the Warren Commission to conduct further investigations if the Commission found it desirable, Chief Justice Warren did not believe further investigation beyond what the investigative agencies had provided would be needed. He stated at the first execution session of the Warren Commission:
Now I think our job here is essentially one for the evaluation of evidence as distinguished from being one of gathering evidence, and I believe at the outset at least we can start with the premise that we can rely upon the reports of the various agencies that have been engaged in investigation of the matter, the FBI, the Secret Service, and others that I may know about at the present time. (46)
In fact, the Warren Commission did rely extensivly on the investigative agencies rather than pursuing an independent investigation. (The effects of this reliance is discussed in another section of this report.) The evidence indicated, therefore, that the Warren Commission not only had as its purposes those stated in the Executive order but it also had additional purposes that may have affected the conduct of the investigation and the final conclusions. The desire to establish Oswald's guilt and thus to quash rumors of a conspiracy may have had additional effects on the functioning and conclusions of the Warren Commission.
Warren commission, The Criticisms and Dissents:
Staff counsel Wesley J. Liebeler, when asked about some of his critical memoranda that he wrote regarding the galley proof of the final report, stated:
I think also part of the problem was, as I said before, a tendency, at least in the galleys of chapter IV, to try and downplay or not give equal emphasis to contrary evidence and just simply admit and state openly that there is a conflict in the testimony and the evidence the Commission could conclude whatever the Commission could conclude. (41)
Liebeler also stated:
Once you conclude on the basis of evidence we had that Oswald was the assassin, for example, taking that issue first, then obviously it is in the interest of the Commission, and I presume everyone else, to express that conclusion in a straightforward and convincing way
Former President Ford testified that he had been critical of Chairman Warren's selecting a general counsel without first consulting the other members of the Commission. Ford stated that he beieved Warren was attempting to place too much control over the Commission in his own hands:
After my appointment to the Commission, and following several of the Commission's organizational meetings, I was disturbed that the chairman, in selecting a general counsel for the staff, appeared to be moving in the direction of a one-man commission. My views were shared by several other members of the Commission.
The problem was resolved by an agreement that all top staff appointments would be approved by the Commission as a whole.
The pay records of the Warren Commission staff indicate that several of the senior attorneys did not spend much time working on the investigation, and the testimony of staff members supported this fact. Arlen Specter stated:
I would prefer not to ascribe reasons but simply to say some of the senior counsel did not participate as extensively as some of the junior counsel. (52)
It is more accurate to say I ended up as the only counsel in my area. (53)
When asked if the senior cousels devoted much time to the investigation, Slawson stated:
A few did not. The majority of them did--and I think contributed very valuably. They did not, with a couple of exceptions, spend as much time as the younger men did, especially as the investigation wore on. Some of them, I understand, were hired with the promise that turned out not to be the case. (54)
Howard Willens stated, when asked about the accuracy of the chart describing the pay records:
I think in the roughest terms this gives a fair picture of the days spent during the period by members of the staff. I think that with reference to my earlier comment you should note that several of the senior counsel felt that their primary responsibility was to work in the investigative stages of the Commission's work.
The pay records indicated that from the diddle of January to the end of September, Francis Adams, a Commission counsel, worked a total of 16 8-hour days and 5 additional hours. Adams held one of the single most important positions with the Commission, serving as senior attorney in the area of basic facts of the assassination. Arlen Specter, when asked if this affected his performance, stated:
I don't think it did although it would have been helpful if my senior counsel, Francis Adams, had an oppurtunity to participate more extensively.
The Warren Commission had no formal sessions from June 23, 1964 to September 18, 1964. This was the period during which the final report was written. Had the commissioners participated to a greater extent during the investigative stages and had they had more interaction with the staff members, there might have been additional discussion and comments about the content of the report might have been substantially different. Additional issues might have arisen. For example, in his testimony, Specter stated:
***the Commission made a decision as to what would be done which was not always in accordance with my own personal view as to what should be done, for example, the review of the X-rays and photographs of the assassination of President Kennedy. I thought that they should have been observed by the Commission and by me among others perhaps having responsibility for that area and I said so at the time. (89)
John McCloy told the committee that he had also voiced objections over Chief Justice Warren's decision not to have the commission view and evaluate these materials during the investigation:
I think we were a little lax in the Commission in connection with the use of
those X-rays. I was rather critical of Justice Warren at that time. I thought he
was a little too sensitive of the sensibilities of the family. He didn't want to
have put into the record some of the photographs and some of the X-rays there. (90)
During the final stages of the Warren Commission, the Commissioners were almost evenly divided on the question of whether the single-bullet theory was valid. To resolve this conflict, the Commissioners had the report worded in such a way that was no conclusive answer. The report stated:
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 Governer Connally's wound were fired from the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. (91)
Of the controversy over the single-bullet theory, John Sherman Cooper recalled:
We did have disagreements at times in the Commission and, I as I recall, I think the chief debate grew out of the fact or the question as to whether there were two shots or three shots or whether the same shot that entered President Kennedy's neck penetrated the body of Governor Connally.
I must say, to be very honest about it, that I held in my mind during the life of the Commission that there had been three shots and that a separate shot struck Governer Connally. (92)
Had the Commissioners been close to the investigation and more aware of the questions and issues regarding the ballistics evidence, they might have agreed to examine the photographs and X-rays. Instead, probably because of the time problem, the issue was resolved by the use of agreeable adjectives, rather than by further investigation.
In his appearance before the committee, former Commission member John J. McCloy stated that he had come to hold a different belief regarding the possibilty of a conspiracy than he had at the time of the Commission's probe in 1964. He stated that he had come to believe there was in fact some evidence outweighed the Commission's conclusion. McCloy said:
Insofar as the conspiracy issue is concerned, there hs been so much talk about that. I don't think I need to dwell on it any longer. I no longer feel we had no credible evidence or reliable evidence in regard to a conspiracy, but I rather think the weight of evidence was against the existence of a conspiracy (44)
The late Senator Richard B. Russell, the senior member of the Warren Commission selected from the Congress, voiced much stronger feelings regarding the possibility of conspiracy before his death in early 1971. In a television interview reported by the Washington Post January 19, 1970, he stated that he had come to believe that there had in fact been a conspiracy behind the President's murder. With respect to Lee Harvey Oswald, Senator Russell stated, "I think someone else worked with him." He also stated that there were "too many things" regarding such areas as Oswald's trip to Mexico City, as well as his associations, that "caused me to doubt that he planned it all by himself." Russel believed the Warren Commission had been wrong in concluding that Oswald acted alone.
In an interview with the committee, John McCloy stated that while he believed the Commission had been falsely accused of a "rush to judgment" in its investigation, he did in fact believe there had been "a rush to print." In his public appearance before the committee, McCloy stated:
We had no rush to judgment. We came to a judgment. There were some questions
of style in regard to the preparation of the report that I would like to have
had *** another crack at to make it a little more clear *** I had a feeling at
the end we were rushing a little bit the last few days to get to print rather
than to arrive at any conclusions. We had already arrived at the conclusions. (102)
Chief Justice Warren stated in his oral history that there was no deadline, as illustrated in the following exchange:
Q. You never did feel a deadline pressure so that you hurried your work?
A. No, sir, we did not.
Q. You were just going to get through whenever you finished.
A. Absolutely not [sic], there was no deadline of any kind for us, no deadline of any kind. (103)
When asked if the fact that it was an election year affected the Warren Commission, Warren replied:
WARREN. This wasn't an election year that we did this, was it? This was in
Q. No, it was November 30, after Kennedy was shot---
WARREN. Of 1962?
Q. Of 1963. And then Johnson had to run in 1964.
WARREN. My gosh, I guess that's right.
Q. It must not have been much of a factor.
WARREN. No, no, really it was no factor. It was no factor at all, no factor at all. (104)
Chief Justice Warren also stated:
The White House never gave us an instruction, never, never even looked at out
work until I took it up to the President. Never commented---
Q. The President never made suggestions?
WARREN. Never once in any way, shape, or form. In fact we didn't talk to him about it. (105)
The staff members of the Warren Commission did not perceive the question of time exactly in the same way as Chief Justice Warren did. Slawson stated:
His [Warren's] main motivation in wanting the work done, and which he repeated several times to different members of the staff, was that he wanted the truth known and stated to the public before the Presidential election of 1964 because he didn't want the assassination in any way to affect the elections. I am not sure at all how he thought it would, but he didn't want any possibility of it. That was his principal reason for having it finished.
Griffin stated that initially the report was to be completed by the Democratic National Convention, which was in the summer of 1964:
It was also indicated at the outset that the hope was that the report would be completed prior to the Democratic National Convention, that essentially had been indicated by the White House, that it was the President's feeling.
Four members of the staff who testified stated there was no preconceived belief among the staff members that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin or that the goal of the Warren Commission was to convince the public that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin. (115) Although Slawson testified that "Everybody was of course a possible suspect,"(116) he also stated that the concern to convince the public that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin may have played a role in his area of investigation, particularly with some of the obstacles he encountered dealing with foreign governments.
Redlich stated that his greatest regret was that the majority of the American public apparently believed that various pressures had in fact influenced the conclusions of the Warren Commission. (120) He indicated, however, that he believed there were other factors that have influenced the widespread nonacceptance by the public of the Commission's conclusions:
I think there are simply a great many people who cannot accept what I believe to be the simple truth, that one rather insignificant person was able to assassinate the President of the United States. I think there are others, who for reasons that there are less pure have consciously tried to deceive. I think that since there is a residue of public sentiment that finds it very hard to accept the conclusion, that becomes a further feeling, for those who have found it in their interest, to pursue the attacks on the Commission. I do not mean to imply that all of the critics of the Commission have bad motives. I think that there is in this country, fortunately, a healthy skepticism about government.
I believe that that was certainly true during the Watergate period. The assassination is a complex fact, as you will see when you investigate it. It was not an easy thing to investigate. Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald were two people with most unusual backgrounds. They did a variety of things. That they should meet in the basement of the Dallas Police station and one shoot the other is something that does strain the imagination.
I think it is very unfortunate that the Warren Commission has been subject to the kinds of attack that it has. We did what we felt was completely honest professional and thorough task.
I have done a lot of things in my public service in my life. I regard my service on the Warren Commission as an extremely important, perhaps the most important thing that I have done, because I believe I was instrumental in putting before the American people all of the facts about the assassination of President Kennedy.
That significant numbers of Americans don't believe it remains to me a source
of great disappointment.
At one level, it appears that the CIA's relationship with the Warren Commission was exemplary. At another, that relationship was questionable. Dulles suggested on december 11, 1963, that the CIA would be very useful to the Commission in areas in which the Agency had expertise, such as Oswald's sojourn in the Soviet Union.(247) The commission did use the CIA in this manner. Most of the Commission's requests for information from the CIA dealt with the Soviet Union or Oswald's activities while he was outside the United states.(248)
The CIA's initial investigation, which was completed in december 1963, was conducted by an officer from the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division.(249) When the Warren Commission requested information after that, James Angleton, Chief of the Counterintelligence staff, asked that his unit be given responsibility for further research and investigation.(250) Richard Helms, Deputy Director of Plans, granted Angleton's request.(251) Angleton designated one of his subordinates, Raymond Rocca, the "point of record" for coordinating research for the Commission.(252)
Rocca and the three other CIA staff members who worked with him on this task were experts in Soviet affairs.(253) The Church committee, which reviewed this group's work, had concluded:
The CIA staff exhaustively analyzed the significance of Oswald's activities in the Soviet Union, but there was no corresponding CIA analysis of the significance of Oswald's contacts with pro-Castro and anti-Castro groups in the ;United States * * *. All of the evidence reviewed by this committee suggests that these investigators conducted a thorough, professional investigation and analysis of the information they had. (254)
The evidence suggests that the internal structure of the CIA may have prevented, or at least impaired, its ability to be of the utmost help to the Warren Commission. The Commission staff's contact with the CIA was primarily through Richard Helms. It was also in contact with Thomas Karamessines, Helms' assistant, and with the "point of record" officer.
In his appearance before the committee, Richard Helms stated that as a general rule the CIA waited to receive a specific inquiry from the Warren Commission before they would pass information on.(255) Helms recalled the Agency's relationship with the Commission in this way:
Mr. HELMS. At the time that the Warren Commission was formed, the agency did everything in its power to cooperate with the Warren Commission and with the FBI, the FBI having the lead in the investigation. It was the agency's feeling that since this tragedy had taken place in the United States, that the FBI and the Department of Justice would obviously have the leading edge in conducting the investigation, and that the agency would cooperate with them in every way it was possible, and the same applied to the Warren Commission. (256)
Helms, though the main contact with the Commission, apparently did not inform it of the CIA plots to assassinate Castro because he did not think they were relevant to the commission's work and he was not asked about them. (257) There is also an indication that his testimony before the Commission was misleading
Warren commission, How they Investigated:
As stated earlier, the Warren Commission staff was primarily composed of attorneys, with a few assistants drawn from other agencies of the Government. It had no independent investigators, but relied primarily upon Government agencies to supply leads and perform a large majority of the field investigation.
The Commission's former general counsel, J. Lee Rankin, told the committee that he believed it would have been difficult to assemble an independent investigative staff. Rankin recalled:
Well, I gave some thought to that and I finally conluded that I would lose more than I would gain, that the whole intelligence community in the Government would feel that the Commission was indicating a lack of confidence in them and that from then on I would not have any cooperation from them; they would universally be against the Commission and try to trip us up. (63)
J. Lee Rankin told the committee that the decision not ot have the Commission employ its own investigators:
***was a decision of the Commission, although I recommended that kind of a procedure because I described various possibilities of getting outside investigators and that it might take a long period of time to accumulate them, find out what their expertise was, and whether they could qualify to handle sensitive information in the Government, and it might be a very long time before we could even get a staff going that could work on the matter, let alone have any progress on it. (64)
We had special people assigned from CIA, FBI, and Secret Service who were with us more or less full time, especially the Secret Service who were investigators. (65)
There was one indication that the Warren Commission used some independent experts for the examination of the physical evidence. Slawson stated:
I think that some of the areas of investigation such as that headed by Dave Belin, which was the immediate circumstances of the shooting in Dallas, employed private investigators at various points to cross-check and give an independent evaluation. (66)
My recollection is that in ballistics I believe we used someone from the government of Illinois, either handwriting or fingerprinting. I am not sure it was not someone from the New York City Police Department. (67)
There was also some indication that the staff would have preferred to have had independent investigators. Spector said:
If [in] organizational structure you include the personnel available, I think that everyone would have much preferred to have had a totally independent investigative arm to carry out the investigative functions of the Commission, but I believe the Commission concluded early on, and I was not privy to any such position from my position as assistant counsel, that it would be impractical to organize an entire investigative staff from the start so that use was made of existing Federal investigative facilities***there would be an observation [among the staff] from time to time how nice it would be if we had a totally independent staff. (68)
When asked if any consideration was given to hiring independent investigators, Redlich replied:
I have no clear recollection of that. Certainly during the time of the investigation from time to time staff members talked to Mr. Rankin about what it might have been like if we had had a completely independent staff. I think that we reached the conclusion then, with which I still agree, that while using the existing investigatory arms of the United States had certain disadvantages, on balance it was still the right decision to make. There were certain tradeoffs *** I don't think there was any happy, completely happy solution to that dilemma. (69)
John McCloy stated that he did not believe the Commission suffered from an insufficient investigative capacity:
***it is not true we didn't have our own investigative possibilities. There was a very distinguished group of litigating lawyers [on staff] that we called on *** We had a very impressive list and they did great work. So it is not true we relied entirely on the agencies of the Goverment. (70)
Former President Ford told the committee that he believed the Commission's decision not to employ an investagative staff was correct:
It is my best judgment that the procedure and the policy the Warren Commission followed was the correct one and I would advocate any subsequent Commission to follow the same.
For the Warren Commission to have gathered together an experienced [investigative] staff, to get them qualified to handle classified information, to establish the organization that would be necessary for a sizable number of investigators, would have been time-consuming and in my opinion would not have answered what we were mandated to do.
It is my, it is my strong feelings that what we did was the right way. We were not captives of, but we utilized the information from the in-house agencies of the Federal Government***. (71)
Ford also told the committee:
The FBI, and I use that as an example, undertook a very extensive investigation. I don't recall how many agents but they had a massive operation to investigate everything. The Commission with this group of 14 lawyers and some staff people, then drew upon all of this information which was available, and we, if my memory serves me accurately, insisted that the FBI give us everything they had. Now that is a comprehensive order from the Commission to the Director and to the FBI. I assume, and I think the Commission assumed, that that order was so broad that if they had anything it was their obligation to submit it. Now if they didn't, that is a failure on the part of the agencies, not on the part of the Commission. (72)
In his testimony, Burt Griffin supplied anther explanation for the
Commission's decision to rely upon the investigative agencies:
***there was a concern that this investigation not be conducted in such a way as to destroy any of the investigative agencies that then existed in the Government. There was a genuine fear expressed that this could be done. Second, it was important to keep the confidence of the existing investigative agencies, and that if we had a staff that was conducting its own investigation, that it would generate a paranoia in the FBI and the other investigative agencies which would not only perhaps be politically disadvantageous, it would be bad for the country because it might not be justified but it might also be counterproductive. I think there was a fear that we might be undermining *** My impression is that there was genuine discussion of this at a higher level than mine.
The initial attitude of the Warren Commission members toward the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was one of trust and a willingness to rely on it. As the investigation progressed, however, the members expressed some dissatisfaction with and distrust of the Bureau. Nevertheless, nothing was ever done to redirect the investigation or improve the Commission's relationship with the Bureau.
The Warren Commission initially avoided using the facilities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), but eventually did so, though reluctantly. They did not ask them to do much beyond answer specific request for information. The members were generally satisfied with the performance of the CIA.
Chief Justice Warren went on to say that he did not believe that the Commission needed independent investigators or the power of subpena.(123) He was overruled by the other Commission members on the question of obtaining subpena power.(124) Congress passed a joint resolution on December 13, 1963, granting the Commission that power.(125) The Commission never did hire its own staff of investigators.
Even at this first meeting, some Commission members expressed concern about some actions by the FBI. There had been numerous stories leaked to the press attributed to FBI sources while the Commission was still awaiting the first FBI report. Senator Russell asked rhetorically:
How much of their findings does the FBI propose to release to the press before we present the findings of this Commission? (126)
The Commission met again on December 6, 1963. At this meeting, the Commission members kept wondering what the FBI was doing and if the CIA knew anything about the assassination. Allen Dulles informed the Commission that he had been in touch with the CIA and dis tributed a pamphlet that the CIA had written on the reaction of the foreign press to the assassination.(127) Commissioner McCoy asked Warren if he had been in touch with the CIA, and the following exchange took place:
CHAIRMAN. No; I have not, for the simple reason that I have never been
informed that the CIA had any knowledge about this.
Mr. McCLOY. They have.
CHAIRMAN. I'm sure they have, but I did not want to put the CIA into this thing unless they put themselves in.
Mr. McCLOY. Don't we have to ask them if we're on notice that they have?
CHAIRMAN. We have to do it with all of them. *** We have not done it with any of them yet because we have not been in that position *** I think we have to ask them. (128)
The Commission received the FBI's report on the assassination on December 9, 1963. It met again on December 16,1963. At this meeting, the FBI was criticized for several things. The members were upset because there was nothing in the FBI report that had not already appeared in the press. (129) They were also upset because some parts of the report were "hard to decipher."(130) Representative Boggs thought the report left "a million questions."(131)
It was at this meeting that the Commission members decided that they could not rely solely on the FBI report, but would have to do their own analysis of the raw data on which the report was based.(132) Chief Justice Warren admitted that he had been too optimistic at the first Commission meeting.(133) The members also considered that they may have been wrong in not hiring their own staff of investigators. General Counsel Rankin put it this way:
The Chief Justice and I finally came to the conclusion, after looking at this
report, that we might have to come back to you and ask for some investigative
help, too, examine special situations, because we might not get all we needed by
just going back to the FBI and other agencies because the report has to look for
in order to get the answers that it wants and it's entitled to. We thought we
might need some investigative staff. (134)
Rankin went on to say that the main reason they might need an independent staff of investigators was that there would be some areas that the Commission had to deal with that were "tender spots" for the FBI.(135) As will become apparent, the Commission did not go much beyond the agencies in investigating the anticipated "tender spots."
The Commission had finally gotten in touch with the CIA. The Agency had told them, as reported by Warren, that it did not have a big report to make, but did have some "communications" to present to the Commission.(136) They would do this when Rankin let them know that the Commission was ready. Dulles said that the CIA had not seen the FBI report and that it would really help them in its work if it had access to it.(137) He also suggested that the CIA could be very helpful in certain areas, such as Oswald's sojourn in the Soviet Union, where it had expertise.(138) Essentially the Commission would have to evaluate the CIA's evidence on that matter and would have to get the FBI's information to the CIA. This problem led to a general discussion of the relationship between the various Government agencies. The following exchange occured:
Mr. DULLES. We can expedite the CIA report, I know, because I can give them,
or the FBI can pass to them these exhibits about Oswald being in Russia. This is
going to be a pretty key business, the analysis of those reports.
CHAIRMAN. Haven't the CIA any contact with the FBI?
MR. DULLES. I don't think they'll do it because the FBI has no authority to pass these reports to anyone else without this Commission's approval.
Mr. McCLOY. The CIA knows everything about it. I don't know how they know it but John McCone knows everything.
Mr. DULLES. He has not seen the reports because I've checked with people yesterday at great length. I have no authority to give it to them and he has not seen the exhibits that we now have, that describe Oswald while he was Russia.
CHAIRMAN. I see no reason why we should not give John McCone a copy of this report and let him see it. He can see mine if he wants to...
Mr. DULLES. I can make mine available. I wouldn't want to do it without approval of this Commission.
Senator RUSSELL. I have never been able to understand why it is that every agency acts like it's the sole agency in the Government. There is very little interchange of information between the departments in the United States Government. The entire view is that they are a separate closed department, and there is not interchange of information. (139)
The problem of a lack of communication and cooperation between the parts of the Federal investigative bureaucracy bothered the Commission. At one point Chief Justice Warren suggested:
*** perhaps we ought to have a thorough investigation *** as to the relationship between the FBI and the Secret Service and the CIA in connection, not only with this matter, but in matters of this kind so that we can do something worthwhile in the future. (140)
Such a thorough investigation was never done. The Commission eventually asked the various agencies for recommendations on how to improve communications among them so as to protect the President better in the future.(141)
The problem of trying to investigate areas that wee "tender spots" with the agencies was brought dramatically to the Commission's attention on January 22, 1964. On that day, Chief Justice Warren had called a special meeting to advise the Commission that Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr had information that Lee Harvey Oswald may have been an informant for the FBI. No more tenderer spot would ever come to the Commission's attention.
General Counsel Rankin first explained the allegation to the Commission. They
then speculated about what mission the FBI could have been using Oswald for.
(142) The discussion then turned to the implications of the allegation. The
discussion then turned to the implications of the allegation. The pressure that
the Commission was under to come out in support of the FBI's conclusions,
coupled with the implications of this allegation, stunned the Commission:
I thought first you should know about it. Second, there is this
defector to that is somewhat an issue in this case, and I suppose you are all
aware of it. That is that the FBI is very explicit that Oswald is the assassin
or was the the assassin, and they are very explicit that there was no
and they are also saying in the same place that they are continuing
their investigation. Now in my experience of almost 9 years, in the first place
it is hard to get them to say when you think you have got a case tight enough to
convict somebody, that that is the person that committed the crime. In my
experience with the FBI they don't do that. They claim that they don't do that.
Second, they have not run out of all kinds of leads in Mexico or in Russia and
so forth which they could probably *** they haven't run out all the leads on the
information and they could probably say--that isn't our business. ***
are concluding there can't be a conspiracy without those being run out. Now that
is not (normal) from my experience with the FBI***. Why are they so eager to
make both of those conclusions *** the original report and their experimental
report, which is such a departure. Now that is just circumstantial evidence, and
it doesn't prove anything about this, but it raises questions.
We have to try to
find out what they haven't said that would give any support to the story, and
report it to you***.
When the Chief Justice and I we just briefly reflecting on this we said if that was true and it ever came out and could be established, then you would have people think that there was a conspiracy to accomplish this assassination that nothing the Commission did or anybody could dissipate.
Representative BOGGS. You are so right.
Mr. DULLES. Oh, terrible.
Representative BOGGS. Its implications of this are fantastic, don't you think so?
Mr. RANKIN. To have anybody admit to it, even if it was the fact, I am sure that there wouldn't at this point be anything to prove it.
Mr. DULLES. Lee, if this were true, why would it be particularly in their interest--I could see it would be in their interest to get rid of this man but why would it be in their interest to say he is clearly the only guilty one? I mean I don't see that argument that you raise particularly shows an interest***.
Mr. RANKIN. They would like to have us fold up and quit.
Reprensentative BOGGS. This closes the case, you see. Don't you see?
Mr. DULLES. Yes, I see that.
Mr. RANKIN. They found the man. There is nothing more to do. The Commission supports their conclusions, and we can go on home and that is the end of it.
Mr. DULLES. But that puts the burden right on them. If he was not the killer, and they employed him, they are already it, you see. So your argument is correct if they are sure that this is going to close the case, but if it don't close the case, they are worse off than ever by doing this.
Representative BOGGS. Yes, I would think so. And of course, we are all even gaining in the realm of speculation I don't even like to see this being taken down.
Mr. DULLES. Yes. I think this record ought to be destroyed. Do you think we need a record of this?
On January 24, 1964, Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr, Dallas County District Attorney Wade and Assistant District Attorney William Alexander flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with General Counsel Rankin and Chief Justice Warren.(144) At this meeting, the Texans set out the basis of the informant allegations.
On January 27, 1964, the Commission met to decide how to deal with the rumor that Oswald had been an FBI informant. The first method discussed was asking the Attorney General to check into the rumor. Rankin reported that the officials at the Justice Department were reluctant to take that approach:
*** it is the feeling of the department, not the Attorney General because he is not there, but Mr. Katzenbach, and Mr. Miller, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the criminal division, that such a request might be embarrasing, and at least would be difficult for the Attorney General, and might, if urged while we would get the information we desired, make very much more difficult for him to carry on the work of the Department for the balance of his term. (145)
Rankin next suggested that he talk to J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI. He would explain that the Commission desired to put the rumor to rest. (146) He would inform the Director that a statement from him would not be sufficient and that the Commission desired "whatever records and materials they have that it just couldn't be true."(147) Rankin would also seek Hoover's permission to do an independent investigation should that prove necessary in putting the rumor to rest. (148) Rankin said:
We do have a dirty rumor that is very bad for the Commission, the problem and
it is very damaging to the agencies that are involved in it and it is very
damaging to the agencies that are involved in it and it must be wiped out
insofar as it is possible to do so***. (149)
Chief Justice Warren was not completely happy with this approach.(150) He saw that they had a choice between investigating the rumor and then approaching the Bureau, or just letting the Bureau handle it. He reported that he and Rankin had argued about the approach and that Rankin had thought it "the better part of cooperation" to ask the FBI first.(151) Warren said that he rather dislikes the idea of going to them without investigating the rumor first.(152) Senator Russell was worried that if a statement was elicited from the FBI before an investigation, then a subsequent investigation would appear to be an attempt to impeach the FBI.(153) Representative Boggs echoed Russell's concern when he said:
If you get a statement from responsible officials in that agency and then you say, "Well we are not going to take this statement on face value, we are going to go behind it," this could become a matter of grave embarrassment to everybody. (154)
The discussion then turned to the problem of proving or disproving the rumor, as well as how to approach the problem:
Senator RUSSELL. If Oswald never had assassinated the President or at least
been charged with assassinating the President and had been in the employ of the
FBI and somebody had gone to the FBI they would have denied he was an agent.
Mr. DULLES. Oh, yes.
Senator RUSSELL. They would be the first to deny it. Your agents would have done the same thing.
Mr. DULLES. Exactly***.
Senator COOPER. If you have these people up (from Texas) and examine them the FBI will know that.
Mr. RANKIN. They already know about this apparently *** I just don't think that they (Texas officials) are going to come out and say they fabricated this, if it is a fabrication. It is too serious for that.
Representative BOGGS. Of course, we get ourselves into a real box. You have got to do everything on Earth to establish the facts one way or the other. And without doing that, why everything concerned, including everyone of us is doing a very grave disservice***.
Senator COOPER. *** before you asked Mr. Hoover you present us with all the proof to the contrary, because as you say, if he presents all this proof to the contrary, then the situation changes a little bit. It would appear to him that you are trying to impeach his testimony***.
Mr. McCLOY. Do we have a statement from Mr. Hoover that this man was not an agent? Was that communicated in the record?
Mr. RANKIN. Yes***.
Mr. McCLOY. I would like to examine again this relationship between the Department of Justice and the FBI. Just who would it be embarrassing for the Attorney General of the United States to inquire of one of his agencies whether or not this man who was alleged to have killed the President of the United States, was an agent. Does the embarrassment supersede the importance of getting the best evidence in a situation as this?
Mr. RANKIN. Well, I think it is a question of whether we have to put him into that position in order to get the job done, because there is in my opinion, not any question but what there will be more friction, more difficulty with his carrying out his responsibilities, and I think we have a very real problem in this Commission in that if we have meetings all the time and they know what it is about *** and we are meeting rather rapidly here in the last few days, and they can guess probably what it is about, certainly after the meeting with the Texas people***.
Senator COOPER. *** In view of all the rumors and statements that have been made not only here but abroad, I think to ask the President's brother, the dead President, to do this, it wouldn't have any backing in it. It would have no substance in his purpose but some crazy people would translate it from his official postion to a personal position. It may sound farfetched but he would be implying as a person that something was wrong. You can't overlook any implications.
Mr. McCLOY. I think that would perhaps be an element in the thing, but it still wouldn't divert me from asking this man who happens to be the Attorney General whose sworn duty is to enforce justice, to ask him just what is within his knowledge in regard to such a serious thing as this. It is [an] awkward affair. But as you said the other day, truth is our only client *** I think we may have to make this first step, that the Senator speaks about, but I don't think that we could recognize that any door is closed to us, unless the President closes it to us, and in the search for truth***.
Mr. RANKIN. I don't see how the country is ever going to be willing to accept it if we don't satisfy them on this particular issue, not only with them but the CIA and every other agency***.
Mr. DULLES. Since this has been so much out in the public, what harm would be in talking to Hoover without waiving any right to make any investigation in the public***. There is a terribly hard thing to disprove, you know. How do you disprove a fellow who was not your agent? How do you disprove it?
Representative BOGGS. You could disprove it, couldn't you?
Mr. DULLES. No.
Representative BOGGS. I know, ask questions about something--
Mr. DULLES. I never knew how to disprove it.
Representative BOGGS. Did you have agents above whom you had no record whatsoever?
Mr. DULLES. The record might not be on paper. But on paper we would know and you could say this meant the agent and somebody else could say it meant another agent.
Representative BOGGS. Let's take a specific case; that fellow Powers was one of your men.
Mr. DULLES. Oh, yes, he was not an agent. He was an employee.
Representative BOGGS. There was no problem in proving he was employed by the CIA.
Mr. DULLES. No. We had a signed contract.
Representative BOGGS. Let's say Powers did not have a signed contract but was recruited by someone in CIA. The man who recruited him would know, wouldn't he?
CHAIRMAN. Wouldn't tell it under oath?
Mr. DULLES. I wouldn't think he would tell it under oath, no. *** He ought not tell it under oath. Maybe no tell it to his own Government but wouldn't tell it any other way.
Mr. McCLOY. Wouldn't he tell it to his own chief?
Mr. DULLES. He might or might not. If he was a bad one then he wouldn't.
Representative BOGGS. What you do is you make out a problem if this be true, make our problem utterly impossible because you say this rumor can't be dissipated under any circumstances.
Mr. DULLES. I don't think it can unless you believe Mr. Hoover, and so forth and so on, which probably most of the people will.
Mr. McCLOY. Allen, suppose somebody when you were head of the CIA came to you, another Government agency and said specifically, "If you will tell us," suppose the President of the United States comes to you and says, "Will you tell me, Mr. Dulles?"
Mr. DULLES. I would tell the President of the United States anything, yes; I am under his control. He is my boss. I wouldn't necessarily tell anybody else, unless the President authorized me to do it. We had that come up at times***.
Mr. RANKIN. If that is all that is necessary, I think we could get the President to direct anybody working for the Government to answer this question....
Mr. DULLES. What I was getting at, I think Mr. Hoover would say certainly he didn't have anything to do with this fellow. (155)
Warren said he thought the problem had to be approached from both sides, it would have to be checked out with Hoover and independently (156)
Dulles said that he could not imagine Hoover hiring anyone as stupid as Oswald. The following exchange then occurred:
Mr. McCLOY. I wouldn't put much confidence in the intelligence of all the
agents I have run into. I have run into some awfully stupid agents.
Mr. DULLES. Not this irresponsible.
Mr. McCLOY. Well, I can't say that I have run into a fellow comparable to Oswald but I have run into some very limited mentalities both in the CIA and the FBI. [Laughter.]
CHAIRMAN. Under agents, the regular agents, I think that would be right, but they and all other agencies do employ undercover men who are of terrible character.
Mr. DULLES. Terribly bad characters.
Senator RUSSELL. Limited intelligence; even the city police departments do it.
CHAIRMAN. It takes almost that kind of a man to do a lot of this undercover work. (157)
As well as worrying about putting the Oswald informant allegation to rest, the Commission worried about angering J. Edgar Hoover:
Mr. RANKIN. Would it be acceptable to go to Mr. Hoover and tell him about the
situation and that we would like to go ahead and find out what we could***. Then
if he reacts and says, "I want to show you that it couldn't be," or something
like that, beforehand, what about that kind of approach?
CHAIRMAN. I don't believe we should apologize or make it look that we are in any way reticent about making any investigation that comes to the Commission. But on the other hand, I don't want to be unfriendly or unfair to him***.
Mr. RANKIN. What I was fearful of was the mere process will cause him to think that we are really investigating him.
CHAIRMAN. If you tell him we are going down there to do it, we are investigating him aren't we?
Mr. RANKIN. I think it is inherent.
CHAIRMAN. If we are investigating him, we are investigating the rumor against him, we are investigating him, that is true. (158)
The reason the Commission had to worry about antagonizing Hoover was that the Commission was almost totally dependent on the FBI for a large part of its investigation. This became apparent later in the meeting when several members expressed their concern over that dependence. It came up in the context of the discussion of a problem related to the informant allegation and the way to deal with the FBI. The problem was the strange circumstances that seemed to surround FBI special agent James P. Hosty:
Mr. McCLOY. What have they done? *** I would think the time is almost overdue
for us being as dependent as we are on FBI investigations, the time is almost
overdue for us to have a better perspective of the FBI investigation than we now
have***We are so dependent upon them for our facts that it might be a useful
thing to have [Allen Belmont, one of Hoover's assistants] before us, or maybe
just you talk to him, for example, to follow up on Hosty.
Mr. RANKIN. Part of our difficulty in regard to it is that they have no problem. They have decided that it is Oswald who committed the assassination, they have decided that no one else is involved, they have decided that no one else is involved, they have decided***.
Senator RUSSELL. They have tried the case and reached a verdict on every aspect.
Representative BOGGS. You have put your finger on it. (159)
It was clear to the Commission at this point that they had two alternatives in light of the FBI's preconceptions and the Commission's dependence on the FBI. They could either, in Russell's words, "just accept the FBI's findings and go and write the report *** or else we can go and try to run down some of these collateral rumors***."(160) There was general agreement within the Commission that they had to go beyond the FBI's word on the informant allegation. They finally voted to let Rankin approach Hoover in the manner he thought best.(161)
On the same days as the above described meeting, January 27, 1964, the Warren Commission received a letter from Hoover. It said, in part:
Lee Harvey Oswald was never used by this Bureau in an informant capacity. He was never paid any money for furnishing information and he most certainly never was an informant of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the event you have any further questions concerning the activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this case, we would appreciate being contacted directly. (162)
Rankin discussed the rumor with Hoover the next day, January 28, 1964. Hoover
assured him that all informants were known to FBI headquarters and that "Oswald
had never been an informant of the FBI."(163)
On February 6, 1964, Hoover submitted an affidavit to the Commission that stated that a search of FBI records showed that Oswald had never been an informant.(164) On February 13, 1964, Hoover sent over 10 additional affidavits from each FBI agent who had had contact with Oswald.(165) On February 27, 1964, special agent Robert Gemberling submitted an affidavit that explained the omission of special agent Hosty's name from the transcript of Oswald's notebook.(166) Assistant Director Alan Belmont testified before the Commission on May 6, 1964. J. Edgar Hoover on May 14, 1964.(167)
Even though the Commission had decided that the informant allegation had to be approached from both ends, there is little indication that they pressed the investigation into the source of the allegations much beyond talking to the newspaperman who first reported them.(168) According to testimony before this committee, the Commission had the Internal Revenue Service do an audit of Oswald's income on the assumption that had he been an informant, the IRS would discover unaccounted income. (169) The Commission did not investigate Hoover or the FBI, and managed to avoid the appearance of doing so. It ended up doing what the members had agreed they could not do: Rely mainly on the FBI's denial of the allegations.
The question of whether Hoover and John McCone should testify before the Commission was considered at a Commission meeting on April 30, 1964.(170) Senator Cooper insisted that it was proper to call the heads of the agencies to testify on the informant allegation. (171) It was decided to call them to testify although some Commission members were still reluctant to get involved in a confrontation with Hoover.(172) At this meeting, Rankin also expressed his satisfaction with the CIA's and FBI's handling of the Mexico City investigation: "I think that the CIA and FBI did a remarkably good job down there for us."
Burt Griffin brought a very skeptical opinion of the abilities of the FBI to the Warren Commission staff:
I had worked with the FBI for 2 years when I was an assistant U.S. attorney. I didn't have a political view of them but I frankly didn't think they were very competent. I felt then, and I still feel, that they have a great myth about their ability but that they are not capable by their investigative means of ever uncovering a serious and well planned conspiracy. They would stumble upon it. I think their investigative means themselves may be self-defeating. I never found them very creative, very imaginative. My attitude toward them was that I thought they were honest. I didn't think in a sticky situation that I would have great faith in them. (179)
Griffin's skepticism did not extend to the CIA with whom he had had no prior contact: "I guess I for one trusted them, I think."
Former Attorney General Katzenbach stated that FBI Director Hoover refused to send a Bureau official to the first meeting of the Warren Commission, despite Katzenbach's specific request that an official accompany him. Katzenbach testified that this placed him in a position where he could not competently brief the Commission on the continuing FBI investigation, since he was not familiar with its course: He testified:
This is the kind of thing you get from Belmont to Tolson, Hoover, knowing Hoover's opposition to the Commission, not really wanting to have anything to do with it and also thinking it fairly funny having me sitting over there and not knowing what was going on.
The reason I wanted the Bureau there was I wanted somebody telling me what was going on. I did not know. (242)
Katzenbach recalled that Director Hoover and his senior aides were then the only men in the Government who were truly familiar with the investigation of the President's death:
Nobody else knew. I did not know what was going on. nobody in the Government knew what was going on other than very short conclusionary statements which you got from liaison people, from the director himself.
I did not know who they were interviewing or why they were interviewing, what they uncovered.
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