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 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 Earl Warren
Representative Gerald Ford
Senator Richard B. Russell
Allen Dulles, former head of the CIA
Senator John Sherman Cooper,
John J. McCloy
Representative Hale Boggs
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's attempts to control the Warren Commission's inquiry and outcome is undeniable in these Warren Commission Exective Session documents. Note the sarcasm:
Jan. 22, 1964,
DULLES: Why would it be in their [the FBI's] interest to say he [Oswald] is clearly the only guilty one?
RANKIN: They would like us to fold up and quit.
BOGGS: This closes the case, you see. Don't you see?
RANKIN: They found the man. There is nothing more to do. The commission supports their conclusions, and we can go home and that is the end of it.
BOGGS: I don't even like to see this being taken down.
DULLES: Yes. I think this record ought to be destroyed.
Later in the conversation, General Council Rankin is deeply suspicious of the way the FBI has been conducting this particular investigation as in his experience, the FBI doesn't not "reach conclusions."
RANKIN: There is this factor too that...is somewhat of 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 assassin, and they are very explicit that there was no conspiracy, and they're also saying they are continuing their investigation. Now in my experience of almost nine years, in the first place it is hard to get them to say when you think you have got a case tight enought to convict somebody, that this is the person who committed the crime. In my experience, the FBI they don't do that. They claim that they don't evaluate and it is my uniform experience that they don't do that. Secondly they have not run out all kinds of leads in Mexico or Russia and so forth which they could probably-- It is not our businesses, it is the the very...
DULLES: What is that?
RANKIN: They haven't run out all the leads on the information and they could probably say...that isn't our business.
RANKIN: But they are concluding that there can't be a conspiracy without those being run out. Now that is not from my experience with the FBI.
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 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
According to author John Davis in his book, Mafia Kingfish,
"...the Church committee that finally revealed to the world the dirty secret of the CIA-Mafia plots to murder Fidel Castro. The committee also established that while it believed the Kennedy brothers had not given the CIA authorization to contract with gangsters to murder Castro, the Kennedy's had explicitly ordered the CIA to 'get rid of Castro' and told the agency, in Robert Kennedy's words, that 'no time, money effort, or manpower should be spared toward the overthrow of Castro's regime.'"
"It was during the Church Committee's investigation of the CIA's assassination plots, that the committee found out the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Castro were never reported by the FBI, the CIA, or Robert Kennedy to the Warren Commission when it was investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. These discoveries, and others, led the senators to establish a sub-committee to investigate the response of the FBI and the CIA to the assassination of President Kennedy, which, in turn, led to a virtual collapse of the government's faith in the Warren Report."
Mafia Kingfish: 1989, Signet Books publication, p415
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.4 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
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
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
4. The Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives (Pike
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 the
conspiracy. At the same time, the HSCA concurred with the Warren Commission's findings that
Lee 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
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.