The Big Lie Begins

It's important to understand that from the very beginning, officials of our governtment did not want a true investigation and made every attempt to "make the public satisfied that Oswald was the assassin."

There may be no other document that makes it more clear that there was no interest in a true investigation by the highest federal authorities and it was issued just days after the assassination. A memo prepared by Walter Jenkins reflects his conversation with J. Edgar Hoover where Hoover makes this telling statement:

"The thing I am most concerned about, and Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so that they can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin."

This conversation occured on November 24, 1963, one day prior to Katzenbach's memo below. Meanwhile, Hoover himself wrote a glaring similar memo on the same day that reads:

"The thing I am most concerned about, and SO IS Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so that WE can convince the pubic that Oswald is the real assassin." (HSCA, vol 3, pp 471-473. This memo was apparently prepared by Hoover at 4 pm.)

A third memo written by the FBI's Courtney Evans on November 26th mentions that Hoover himself drafted the Katzenbach memo. (North, "Act of Treason")


Memo from Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Deputy Attorney General

November 25, 1963


It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy's Assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad that all the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now.

1. The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.

2. Speculation about Oswald's motivation ought to be cut off, and we should have some basis for rebutting thought that this was a Communist conspiracy or (as the Iron Curtain press is saying) a right-wing conspiracy to blame it on the Communists. Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat-- too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, etc.). The Dallas police have put out statements on the Communist conspiracy theory, and it was they who were in charge when he was shot and thus silenced.

3. The matter has been handled thus far with neither dignity nor conviction. Facts have been mixed with rumour and speculation. We can scarcely let the world see us totally in the image of the Dallas police when our President is murdered.

I think this objective may be satisfied by making public as soon as possible a complete and thorough FBI report on Oswald and the assassination. This may run into the difficulty of pointing to in- consistencies between this report and statements by Dallas police officials. But the reputation of the Bureau is such that it may do the whole job. The only other step would be the appointment of a Presidential Commission of unimpeachable personnel to review and examine the evidence and announce its conclusions. This has both advantages and disadvantages. It think it can await publication of the FBI report and public reaction to it here and abroad.

I think, however, that a statement that all the facts will be made public property in an orderly and responsible way should be made now. We need something to head off public speculation or Congressional hearings of the wrong sort.

Nicholas deB. Katzenbach

Deputy Attorney General

Background on Katzenbach: Oral History at the LBJ Library


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