Hoover Memo to Tolson 12-12-63
11:35 a.m. December 12, 1963
MEMORANDUM FOR: MR. TOLSON
Mr. Lee Rankin called from New
York to check in with me on the matter of the Commission. He wanted
to work out an arrangement with me which he thought might be satisfactory.
He said he understood Mr. Belmont handled the investigation.
I told Mr. Rankin that Mr. Belmont,
Mr. Rosen and I handled the preparation of the report and will
handle additional leads as they come in.
Mr. Rankin asked how he should
handle anything that comes up, things the Commission will want
developed further, in regard to the FBI - whether they should
be handled directly with me or somebody I would designate.
I replied that I will designate
someone. I explained that I sent Mr. Malley down to Dallas to
handle all of our angles down there; that he was on the ground
there; and that I think he probably would be the man who would
be more familiar with things Mr. Rankin should further explore.
I stated Mr. Malley is in Dallas at the present time but will
be ordered back tomorrow; that he will be available; and that
we will be glad to run out any additional men as he may want.
Mr. Rankin of the difficulty
about the Department's desire to issue certain conclusions; that
they wanted to issue a statement before the report went to the
Commission with the conclusion Oswald was the assassin, no foreign
or subversive elements involved, and Rubenstein and Oswald had
no connection; that I flatly disagreed; they took
RETYPE by Carrolton Press due
to deterioration of original
Messers. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr,
December 12, 1963
Conrad, Deloach, Evans, Rosen,
it up with the White House and
the President agreed with me that we should reach no conclusion;
nevertheless the report does reach two conclusions in substance.
I said I personally
believe Oswald was the assassin; that the second aspect as to
whether he was the only man gives me great concern; that we have
several letters, not in the report because we were not able to
prove it, written to him from Cuba referring to the job he was
going to do, his good marksmanship, and stating when it was all
over he would be brought back to Cuba and presented to the chief;
but we do not know if the chief was Castro and cannot make an
investigation because we have no intelligence operation in Cuba;
that I did not put this into the report because we did not have
proof of it and didn't want to put speculation in the report;
that this was the reason I urged strongly that we not reach conclusion
Oswald was the only man.
As to Rubenstein, I said I did
not want a statement about Rubenstein and Oswald; that we have
no proof they were ever together. I stated Rubenstein is a shady
character from the hoodlum element of Chicago, has a poor background,
runs a nightclub in Dallas, and is what would be called a police
buff; that the police officers in the precinct have been able
to get food and liquor from him at any time they drop in; that
while I think there was no connection between him and Oswald,
I did not want the report to be 100% sure on that.
Fourth, I stated I did not believe
any conclusions concerning Rubenstein should be reached at this
time because he has not been tried; that was why I suggested to
the Attorney General of Texas - and understand the Chief Justice
did too- that his court of special inquiry be held in abeyance
until after the Commission makes its findings. I said I thought
they would go ahead with the Rubenstein trial in February; that
was why I felt our report should name merely the facts we have
I further stated there may be
some aspects Mr. Rankin will want to have run out farther; that
there may be letters written to members of the Commission; that
we have letters from people who claim to have seen Oswald; that
up to the time we submitted the report we had cleared up all these
angles except the Cuban thing which I discussed generally and
explained that the informer recanted and blew that angle out of
the window; that sort of thing may be popping up all the time.
I advised Mr. Rankin if he wanted any leads followed out or any
implementation of what we have already done we will give him 100%
Mr. Rankin stated he knew we
would; that he just wanted to
Memorandum for Messers. Tolson,
December 12, 1963
Conrad, Deloach, Evans, Rosen,
establishing it as a matter
I should know. I told him not to hesitate to call me; that I will
designate Mr. Malley and he will advise me at once of anything.
Mr. Rankin then said he would get in touch with me if he thinks
there is anything which should be taken up on that level.
I mentioned to him the actions
of the Soviet Embassy, the Communist Party in New York, and John
Abt is making available to us their information on Oswald.
I also discussed the operations
of the Dallas Police Department in the case which led to the murder
I told Mr. Rankin the Department
held the report about five days and then began to leak items from
the Department on it, items such as the shooting of General Walker,
things not known in Dallas; that I kept pressing them to get the
report to the Commission; that a debate was going on between the
Department and me; that I did not want any conclusion drawn but
I thought a conclusion had been made in the letter of transmission
to the Commission; that there would have been no purpose in appointing
a Presidential Commission except to evaluate the facts; that it
was the duty of the FBI to get the facts
and let the Commission reach
I told Mr. Rankin we would want
to do anything we can here to make his job easier. He said he
has always had complete confidence in that and in me.
Mr. Rankin inquired if anything
had been done about seeing that the films would be preserved and
available for the Commission. I answered that we have them ourselves;
that we have films taken by private individuals; that the President
was not being covered by a car with television people as they
do here in Washington; that there was not a professional photographer
where this took place; that the Secret Service car immediately
in back had already passed the building, which was at an angle,
with the result they couldn't tell where the shots were coming
from. I mentioned the comment by former Chief of Secret Service
Baughman that he could not understand why the Secret Service men
did not open fire with machine guns at the window. I said the
Secret Service men did not see where the shots came from and would
have killed a lot of innocent people if they had done so.
In connection with stories indicating
that Oswald could not have done this alone, I stated he was a
marksman and it wasn't anything he
Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson,
Belmont, Mohr December 12, 1963
Conrad, DeLoach, Evans Rosenm
could not do; that we have tested
it on our rifle range and were able to get shots off even faster
than he did; that there is no question in my mind about it; that
we also found the fingerprints and the bullets so conclusively
fired from the gun; that we have all this and we have all the
Mr. Rankin inquired if we also
have the television film run off of the shooting of Oswald, and
I told him we have this.
Mr. Rankin said Mr. Malone delivered
to him a copy of the report and also offered to help in any way
possible; this was very kind of Malone; but he will not deal with
Malone in anything unless it is some
emergency and he has to handle
it locally. I told Mr. Rankin this was all right and, if he should
need to call upon Malone, Malone would be available.
I also told Mr. Rankin there
is a direct wire between the New York Office and here; that he
can always place any calls to here over our wire; and that I will
arrange for this.
I told Mr. Rankin to let us
know if there is anything we can do.
Very truly yours,
John Edgar Hoover