At least six government investigations or studies -- five at the Federal level and one state/local -- were conducted into, or as a result of, the assassination of President John Kennedy. While most have used ommission or classification to obcure information, still each one has led us closer and closer to the real facts.
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission
The Warren Commission's investigation initiated on November 29, 1963, and completed with the public release of its report on September 27, 1964, finding Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin. (The Warren Report was itself founded in part on a five-volume FBI report delivered on December 9, 1963.)
Chief Justice of the Suprene Court, Earl Warren
US Representative Gerald Ford
US Senator Richard B. Russell
Allen Dulles, former head of the CIA
US Senator John Sherman Cooper,
John J. McCloy, forner head of the Council on Foreign Relations
US Representative Hale Boggs
1968 Panel Review of Photographs, X-Ray Films, Documents and Other Evidence Pertaining to the Fatal Wounding of President John E Kennedy on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas
An inquiry by a panel of pathologists appointed by Attorney General Ramsey Clark in February 1968 who examined the available autopsy photographs and x-rays.
The 1968 conspiracy trial of New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw brought by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.
The report of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence issued in October 1969, in large part initiated in response to the assassinations of JFK, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Rockefeller Commission's investigation of the CIA, begun in March 1975, which devoted a section of its report to possible links between the assassination and various CIA operatives.
C. Douglas Dillon
Erwin S. Griswald
Lyman L. Lemnitzer
Edgar F. Shannon, Jr.
John T. Connor
1975-1976 -United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities - Also known as: "The Church Committee" - Schweiker/Hart Subcommittee - Book V of Final Report: The Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Performance of the Intelligence Agencies
Phillip A. Hart
Charles McC. Mathias
Walter F. Mondale
John G. Tower
Walter D. Huddleston
Howard H. Baker
The report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, begun in 1976 and issued the report of "probable conspiracy" on July 22, 1979.
Samuel L. Devine
Walter E. Fauntroy
Robert W. Edgar
Christopher J. Dodd
Stewart B. McKinney
Floyd J. Fithian
Yvonne Braithwaite Burke
Harold S. Sawyer
From the Final Report of the ARRB:
1. President's Commission to Investigate the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Warren Commission)
The Warren Commission was the only investigative body to identify a specific individual--Lee Harvey Oswald--as the lone assassin of President Kennedy.
The Warren Commission did not, however, reach its conclusion before conducting an extensive investigation.3 During its tenure, the Warren Commission deposed or interviewed 552 witnesses and generated or gathered approximately 360 cubic feet of records, including some artifacts and
exhibits. The Warren Commission's September 1964, 888-page report came with 26 volumes--over 16,000 pages--of testimony and exhibits.
President Johnson recognized the high public interest in the Warren Commission's unpublished records and initiated a plan for release of the material. The Johnson plan resulted in the release of 98% of the Warren Commission's records by 1992. Thus, at the time that Congress passed the
JFK Act, only 3,000 pages of Warren Commission material remained for the agencies and the Review Board to release.
All Warren Commission records, except those records that contain tax return information, are available to the public with only minor redactions.
2. The President's Commission on Central Intelligence Agency Activities Within the United States (Rockefeller Commission)
The 1975 Rockefeller Commission investigated the CIA's illegal domestic activities. In the course of its work, the Commission touched on several assassination-related topics, including the identity of the "three tramps," the possibility of CIA involvement in the assassination, and ballistics issues.5 The Commission concluded that the CIA was not involved in the assassination, and that the President had not been hit by a shot fired from in front of the Presidential limousine.
As of 1992, the Commission's assassination-related files consisted of approximately 2,500 to 4,000 pages, 95% of which were still secret and in the custody of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library when Congress passed the JFK Act.6
3. The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (Church Committee)
In 1975 and 1976, the Senate investigated illegal domestic activities of government intelligence agencies.7 The Church Committee's investigation uncovered allegations such as CIA assassination plots against Cuban Premier Fidel Castro in the 19601963 period. The CIA did not communicate the existence of the plots to the Warren Commission, even though former CIA Director Allen Dulles (a Warren Commission member) was aware of them.
The Church Committee's initial findings led Committee member Senator Richard Schweiker to call for a reinvestigation of the assassination. Through Senator Schweiker's efforts, the Church Committee formed a subcommittee to evaluate the intelligence agencies' handling of the JFK assassination investigation. The subcommittee interviewed or deposed over 50 witnesses, acquired over 5,000 pages of evidence from intelligence agencies, and reviewed thousands of additional pages.8
As of 1992, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence possessed approximately 5,000 pages of assassination-related material from the Church Committee's investigations.9 Although the Church Committee published some material in its reports, the bulk of the Committee's records remained closed.
4. The Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives (Pike Committee)
In 1975, the House of Representatives also established a committee to investigate illegal domestic activities of government intelligence agencies. The Pike Committee devoted less time to issues related to President Kennedy's assassination than did the Church Committee, but it completed some relevant work. However, due to the Pike Committee's internal conflicts, as well as conflicts that it had with the executive branch over access to records, the Committee never issued a report. The Committee did touch on some issues related to the assassination of
President Kennedy. At the time that Congress passed the JFK Act, the number of Pike
Committee records that contained information that might be related to President Kennedy's
assassination was unknown.
5. The Select Committee on Assassinations of the House of Representatives (HSCA)
In 1976, the House of Representatives established its Select Committee on Assassinations. The HSCA reinvestigated President Kennedy's assassination and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The HSCA concluded that President Kennedy was probably murdered as a result of a conspiracy and suggested that organized crime may have played a role in theconspiracy. At the same time, the HSCA concurred with the Warren Commission's findings thatLee Harvey Oswald fired the two bullets that hit the President, and that one of those bullets struck both President Kennedy and Governor John Connally of Texas (the so-called "single-bullet theory").
During its tenure, the HSCA took testimony from 335 witnesses and held 38 days of public hearings. The HSCA generated approximately 414,000 pages of records relating to the assassination.11 In 1992, the HSCA's unpublished records resided with the House Administration Committee (now the House Oversight Committee).
Because the HSCA investigated so many different possibilities in its investigation into possible conspiracies, its records, and federal agency records that the HSCA used, have been among the most important records that the Review Board processed.
6. Additional Congressional Investigations
In addition to investigations of the above-referenced special committees and commissions, various congressional committees have examined aspects of the assassination story.
The House Un-American Activities Committee, for instance, compiled a small number of pre-assassination records relating to Lee Harvey Oswald's activities in New Orleans. At the time of the assassination, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, had ongoing investigations into the political situation in Cuba and, when the President was killed, it conducted a limited inquiry into the assassination.
To the extent that these two committees provided materials to the Warren Commission, their records remained under the control of succeeding congressional committees and had not been released prior to consideration of the JFK Act.
Later, in 1975, two House subcommittees held public hearings on issues relating to the treatment of assassination records. These were the House Judiciary Committee's Civil and Constitutional Rights Subcommittee (Edwards Committee) that investigated the destruction of the so-called "Hosty note" which Lee Harvey Oswald had left at the FBI Dallas field office for Special Agent James Hosty on November 6, 1963. After the assassination, Hosty destroyed the note on the instructions of his superior, Special Agent in Charge J. Gordon Shanklin. Its existence remained unknown outside the FBI for 12 years. The Government Information and Individual Rights Subcommittee of the Government Operations Committee (Abzug Committee) examined issues of access and openness relating to Warren Commission records.
While the latter two hearings were published, it was not known during consideration of the JFK Act whether additional and unpublished records remained in the committees' files.