Warren Commission Report is 35 years
old on September 27, 1999
Haven't you waited long
enough for the truth?
Commission Errors by Martin Shackelford (9-22-99)
1. No staff of investigators; near-total dependence
gathered by others, while claiming to conduct "an
investigation." In its "Forward to the
it openly boasts that it
had the power to grant immunity, but never used it.
2. Too much emphasis on getting it over with, at
the expense of leads
which even their own staff thought important, while
claiming to conduct
a "thorough" investigation.
3. The decision not to request access to the autopsy
photos and X-rays,
much less not to request evaluation by qualified
4. The decision not to question Jack Ruby away from
5. The decision to assume Oswald's guilt at the outset,
adversarial attitude toward witnesses who didn't
6. The failure to aggressively pursue records held
by less cooperative
agencies, like the military, the CIA, etc.
7. The decision not to make its evidence files available
for study by
scholars, and instead to seal them until 2039, and
the small printing
(5000) of the volumes of evidence that were released,
with no allowance
for a second printing based on demand.
The Narrative: How the Commission Wanted You to Look
at the Evidence
1. Secret Service agent Clint Hill didn't push Mrs.
Kennedy back into
the rear seat; she was returning to the seat before
he reached her. (after she reached
a piece of her husband's head that went to the rear
of the limo.)
2. Although they precisely indicated the location of
the wound in the
front of the neck, all they said about the head wound
was that it was "extensive,"
thus evading the Parkland doctors, reports that it
was in the rear of
3. In a misleading statement, the body reportedly "was
given a complete
pathological examination." From the standpoint
of forensic pathology,
this is utterly false. Even from the standpoint of
it is questionable.
4. It implies that the head wound described in the
matches the descriptions from Parkland, when in fact
it didn't even match most of
the descriptions by Bethesda personnel.
5. It ascribes accounts of shots from locations other
than the Texas
School Book Depository to "evident confusion at
and suggests that
the actual sole source, the Depository, was identified "within
House Select Committee on Assassinations found witnesses
that supported a shot from the grassy knoll"some
of them known to the
Warren Commission, but disregarded or subjected to
6. "Several eyewitnesses," it said, reported
a rifle being fired from
the Sixth Floor window. In fact, only one, Howard Brennan,
reported seeing it
7. They report the suspect description broadcast by
Dallas Police was
"based primarily on Brennan's observations," though
it included details
Brennan could not have known.
8. They give Oswald extra time to get down the stairs,
than 2 minutes had elapsed since the shooting" when
Officer Baker and
TSBD supervisor Roy Truly dashed up the stairs. In
fact, no more than a
minute and a half, and possibly less, had elapsed by
the time Officer
Baker confronted Oswald in the second floor lunchroom.
This kind of
shading of facts in the direction of a conclusion resembles
prosecutor,s brief more than the objective analysis
claimed by the
9. "On the bus was Mrs. Mary Bledsoe, one of Oswald's
who immediately recognized him." They fail to
note that she reported the
elbow of his shirt was "torn out," which
wasn't accurate, and the bus
driver later suggested the passenger may not have been
Oswald, but a
young man who was a regular on that run of the bus,
10. They noted that Oswald took a cab, but omit that
he offered it to a
woman who arrived after he did, as the narrative is
slanted to suggest
Oswald was in a big hurry.
11. The narrative has Oswald talking with Officer Tippit
through a car
window that was rolled up, not down.
12. Reporting that Domingo Benavides called the shooting
in at 1:16,
they imply that this was done almost immediately, which
wasn't the case.
The shooting could have occurred as early as 1:10,
but that didn't leave
enough time for Oswald to get there from his rooming
13. Neutrally, we are told "The assailant ran
into the lot, discarded
his jacket and then continued his flight west on Jefferson,"
that no one had any success connecting the discarded
jacket to Oswald.
14. In describing Oswald's teenage years, no mention
is made of the fact
that his family was deeply enmeshed in the Marcello
his uncle worked for Marcello, and his mother dated
An odd man with Mob and intelligence connections, David
the unofficial Civil Air Patrol unit that Oswald joined.
also belonged to an Astronomy Club.
15. The second description of Oswald as a "loner" comes
in the summary
of his Marine career. Anyone who believes that should
read his friend
Kerry Thornley's novel based on their time in the Marines, "The
Warriors," or read the accounts of his Marine
buddy Nelson Delgado. The
Commission account is fiction by selection.
16. He spent time overseas, we are told, "most
of it in Japan." That's
all we learn about that unusual period, where he frequented
Bee, an expensive nightclub out of the price range
of a simple Marine.
Also avoided is any mention of the Atsugi base at which
stationed, a center of both U-2 and MKULTRA CIA operations.
17. The Commission implies that Oswald could shoot
well, and explains
his low rifle test scores as an indication that he
wasn't interested in
18. The highly unusual circumstances of his discharge
are glossed over.
He was released to care for his mother, on whom several
boxes had fallen
at work months before. It's true that she was injured,
and had a
difficult time for a while, but she was doing better
by the time he was
discharged, and he only spent three days with her before
19. The Commission mentions the odd fact that Oswald
applied for a
passport, saying he intended to go to Russia, before
he left the
Marines. What is not said is that his superior officer.
Lt. Ayers, was
aware of this, as he signed a form which included that
20. There is mention that he entered the Soviet Union
via Finland, but
not that he somehow knew that Helsinki was the easiest
21. There is no mention that he told the U.S. embassy
he intended to
give the Russians information he had learned in the
this made it easier for them in not having to explain
why the State
Department later loaned him money for his return.
22. His time in Russia is also quickly skipped over,
thus no mention of
the circle of friends "the loner" developed
there. His wife seems to
come out of nowhere.
23. In it's rush to emphasize the Dallas Russian-speaking
dislike for Oswald, the Commission completely omits
any mention of
George DeMohrenschildt, a worldly sophisticate who
is often described as
"Oswald's best friend."
24. The Commission flatly states that Oswald tried
to kill General Edwin
Walker, despite the fact that the bullet recovered
from the scene was
not compatible with his rifle. It only "became
assassination, when it turned out to be a different
kind of bullet than
Dallas Police had reported it to be in April.
25. We learn that Oswald returned to New Orleans,
- but not that he returned to the milieu of the
Marcello crime family.
- We are also not told of the many employees of right-wing
private detective Guy Banister
who remember Oswald as another Banister "employee"
- or the students at Lousiana State University who
recall seeing Banister and Oswald visiting
the campus together,
- or the editor of a CIA-supported newsletter on
who reported seeing them on the street, and in Mancuso's
Restaurant (in the same building as Banister,s office.
also worked with Banister.
26. We're told that he visited the Mexico City embassies
of Cuba and the
- but not that someone continued to pretend to
be him after he left, in a call
to one embassy.
- One of the rumors the Commission doesn't debunk
(or mention) is the
possible affair Oswald had with the Cuban embassy's
though in this case they had the documents reporting
it. Not the sort of
thing a loner would do, apparently.
27. In mentioning that Oswald rented a room from Mary
it restates (again probably incorrectly) that she saw
him on the bus after
28. Although the summary said Ruth Paine phoned the
Texas School Book
Depository about a job for Oswald "at the suggestion
of a neighbor," but
the neighbor had told her she didn't think they were
29. The Commission implies that Oswald had not visited
his wife at the
Paine home on a Thursday, prior to November 21, but
in fact this was his
second Thursday visit in the relatively short time
he had been back in
30. The Commission says Oswald left "his wallet" with
$170 for his wife
the morning of the assassination, but it wasn,t his
wallet. He had put
money into HER wallet. His wallet was in his pocket
at the time of his
arrest (a detail the narrative omits, presumably to
itself). The falsehood adds to the picture of finality
seeks to paint. The reality is much less clearcut.
31. The Commission's Oswald placed "a long, bulky
in the rear
of Buell Wesley Frazier's car, but neither Frazier
nor his sister, who
also saw it, described it as long enough to carry even
rifle, and it seemed light enough that Frazier, who
had worked in a
department store, believed Oswald's statement that
the package contained
32. The Commission says Frazier saw Oswald carry the
package into the
Depository, but that's not true. The only employee
who actually saw
Oswald enter the building, Jack Dougherty, said Oswald
33. The Commission says that "positive firearm
was not available at the time," failing to add
that there was never a
ballistics match made between Oswald's pistol and the
bullets fired at
Officer Tippit. Lamely, they report that the pistol
was of a type that
could have fired the bullets.
34. Of details given the press by the Dallas Police,
dismissively stated: "Some of the information
divulged was erroneous."
The same could be said of the Commission.
35. Jack Ruby, we learn, was in the crowd of newsmen
at Oswald that Friday night. We aren't told that he
knew more about
Oswald's political activities than did District Attorney
Henry Wade, at
whom he shouted a correction. Of course, Ruby probably
spent more time
in New Orleans than Wade, and he got his strippers
from the Marcello
circuit there. Maybe he didn't need to rely on the
news media for
information about Oswald.
36. We are told that numerous threats against Oswald
were called in to
police. We aren't told that Officer Billy Grammar,
who took one of the
calls, identified the caller as a familiar voice, Jack
Ruby. He stalks
Oswald, he makes a phone threat, and then, on a "sudden
shoots Oswald. What a coincidence!
The Conclusions: What The Narrative Was Preparing
You to Believe
1. We hear again that "witnesses" saw
a rifle being fired from the TSBD
2. We're told that a bullet matching Oswald,s rifle
was found at
Parkland Hospital on Governor Connally,s stretcher,
but it was in fact
found on the stretcher of an injured little boy,
according to the man who found it.
3. We have here the false claim that the Single Bullet
necessary to any essential findings of the Commission,"
it a lone assassin would be impossible.
4. Though no one saw the Mannlicher-Carcano in Oswald,s
after he left New Orleans, the Commission informs
us that it was "was
owned by and in the possession of Oswald" on
the day of the
assassination. Producing evidence of this is apparently
necessary to any essential findings."
5. Also on no evidence, we are told that "Oswald
carried this rifle
into the Depository Building on the morning of November
6. And we have only the word of Howard Brennan that "Oswald,
time of the assassination, was present at the window
from which the
shots were fired."
7. We are told that "the improvised paper bag
in which Oswald brought
the rifle to the Depository was found close by the
window from which the
shots were fired." How unfortunate that none
of the witnesses who saw
the bag Oswald actually carried recognized the bag
reportedly found on
the Sixth Floor.
8. The claim that Oswald attempted to kill General
Walker is here
9. Oswald is convicted as Tippit,s killer, partly
based on a match
between cartridge cases in evidence and Oswald's
pistol, but the Officer
to whom the cases found at the scene had been given
was unable to find
his initials in the cases matched to Oswald's pistol.
Damningly, we are
told that Oswald owned the pistol that was found
in his possession
(duh!). Then we,re again told the falsehood that "Oswald's
10. We are told that Oswald was given the opportunity
counsel. We aren't told that he asked for an ACLU
attorney, and the
Dallas Police turned away an ACLU attorney, telling
him that Oswald
didn,t want his assistance.
11. Oswald's opportunities to speak directly to the
press in the
hallway of the Dallas Police Department are described
that shouldn,t have been permitted, as it failed
to protect his rights
to an "orderly interrogation."
12. The Commission found no evidence of a conspiracy,
couldn't tie Oswald or Ruby to one or to each other,
13. The Commission couldn,' figure out a motive for
President, either, so it offered a list of possible "contributing
14. One of these is "His inability to enter
relationships with people." At the time, people
who had known Oswald
well were living in fear that they would be accused
accomplices. As time went on, we,ve learned about
more of these
"meaningful relationships" he supposedly
15. The Walker shooting, now taken for granted as
an Oswald act, is
used to show his "capacity for violence."
16. Apparently the Commission's finding "that
the FBI took an unduly
restrictive view of its role in preventive intelligence
work prior to
the assassination" is another way of saying
the FBI failed to pass on
reports of Mob threats against Kennedy to the Secret
FBI didn,t tell the Commission about them, either.
They didn't really
come out until the late 1970s.
What we find is that the Commission's presentation of
evidence was no more objective than the much criticized
Oliver Stone film
"JFK," but in a different direction. The narrative
is slanted to support the conclusions, and the conclusions
often rely on errors made in the narrative, and on statements
for which there is no evidence, or evidence pointing
in a different direction.
these thought provoking quotes on the Warren Commission
compiled by Martin Shackelford
A. McVickar, Assistant Counsel, U.S. Embassy, Moscow, 1959:
"Oswald was following the pattern of behavior in which he had been tutored
by person or persons unknown...that he had been in contact with others before
or during his Marine Corps tour who had guided him and encouraged him in his
Henry Luce at a dinner party, 1961:
"We can't afford to make a mistake in America. So if this young Kennedy
makes a mistake, he's got to be impeached immediately. We can't wait for a
(quoted by Mort Sahl, who heard it, in "Heartland")
Kennedy aides Kenny O'Donnell and Dave Powers:
"The president's orders to reduce the American military personnel in Vietnam
by one thousand by the end of 1963 was still in effect on the day he went to
Texas. A few days after his death, during the mourning, the order was quietly
(from "Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye")
"If the bullet that wounded the president was not the same bullet that
wounded John. Connally, and I testified that it wasn't, and John Connally testified
that it wasn't, then there would have had to be more than one assassin."
(May 13, 1976, interviewed on WGBH-TV, Boston)
Dr. Milton Helpern, the nation's leading forensic pathologist
at the time of the assassination:
"Selecting a hospital pathologist to perform a medico-legal autopsy...and
evaluate gunshot wounds is like sending a seven year old boy who has taken
three lessons on the violin over to the New York Philharmonic and expect him
to perform a Tchaikovsky symphony. He knows how to hold the violin and the
but he has a long way to go before he can make music."
(quoted by Marshall Houts in his biography of Helpern, "Where
Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry:
"We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle. No one has been
able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand."
(November 5, 1969, United Press International)
Marina Oswald's initial reaction:
"I love Lee. Lee good man. He didn't do anything."
(November 29, 1963, LIFE magazine)
Robert Oswald, Lee's brother, after visiting Lee in jail:
"All the time we were talking I was searching his eyes for any sign of
guilt or whatever you call it. There was nothing there--no guilt, no shame,
H.R. Haldeman, on a panel to investigate Watergate, March
"If you want Earl Warren, he'll do it." (said to Richard Nixon)
Sen. Richard Russell, Warren Commission member:
"They [the FBI] have tried the case and reached a verdict on every count."
(January 27, 1964 Warren Commission Executive Session)
"So much possible evidence was beyond our reach."
(September 29, 1964, Atlanta Constitution, upon the Report's
"We have not been told the truth about Oswald."
(Letter to critic Harold Weisberg)
Hale Boggs, Warren Commission member, on the Single Bullet
"I had strong doubts about it."
(quoted by Edward Jay Epstein, "Inquest," the first
study with access to
Warren Commission members and staff)
John J. McCloy, Warren Commission member:
"It was important to show the world that America is not a banana republic,
where a government can be changed by conspiracy."
(quoted by Epstein, "Inquest")
Sen. John Sherman Cooper, Warren Commission member:
"We had to lift the cloud of doubts that had been cast over American institutions."
(quoted by Epstein, "Inquest")
Allen Dulles, Warren Commission member, fired by JFK as CIA
"But nobody reads. Don't believe people read in this country. There will
be a few professors that will read the record...The public will read very little."
(September 6, 1964, Warren Commission internal memo)
J. Lee Rankin, Warren Commission chief counsel:
"We do have a dirty rumor [Oswald was an FBI informant] that is very bad
for the Commission...and it is very damaging to the agencies that are involved
in it, and it must be wiped out insofar it is possible to do so by this Commission."
(January 27, 1964, Warren Commission Executive Session)
"At this stage, we are supposed to be closing doors, not opening them."
(July 1964 response to staff counsel Wesley Liebeler's request
that a conspiracy lead (Silvia Odio) be pursued, quoted in
"They [U.S. intelligence agencies] could have conspired all together to
try to conceal it [information] from us...It's been very rare in our history
that any of these agencies have come forth and said 'we made a mistake'."
(May 1975, WRR Radio "Allen Stone Show," Dallas)
Burt W. Griffin, Warren Commission co-counsel:
"I don't think some agencies were candid with us. I never thought the
Dallas police were telling us the entire truth. Neither was the FBI."
(April 24, 1975, Rolling Stone)
Associated Press dispatch:
"Washington, D.C..--An agent [James Hosty] who investigated the assassination
of President Kennedy testified today that he flushed down the drain a note
that Lee Harvey Oswald had delivered to the Dallas office of the Federal Bureau
(December 12, 1975)
Waggoner Carr, Texas Attorney General (former FBI agent):
"All of the records were in the hands of the two agencies [FBI and CIA]
and, if they so desired, any information or files could have been destroyed
or laundered prior to the time the Commission could get them."
(September 2, 1975, Houston Chronicle)
Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with
Intelligence Activities (Church Committee):
"On two separate occasions...[FBI] Director Hoover asked for all derogatory
material on Warren Commission members and staff contained in the FBI files."
(1976 "The Investigation of the Assassination of President
John F. Kennedy: The Performance of the Intelligence Agencies,"
report by Sen. Richard Schweiker and Sen. Gary Hart subcommittee)
Sen. Richard Schweiker:
"Had Oswald been convicted twelve years ago, he would be entitled to a
new trial today based upon the FBI and CIA coverup."
(June 23, 1976 statement)
Sen. Richard Schweiker:
"Now I don't know who killed cock robin, but we do know Oswald had intelligence
connections. Everywhere you look with him, there're fingerprints of intelligence."
(December 15, 1975, Village Voice)
Victor Marchetti, former Executive Assistant to the Deputy
Director of the CIA:
"The more I have learned, the more concerned I have become that the government
was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy."
(April 1975, True magazine)
Lyndon Johnson, on being handed the first copy of the Warren
"It's, uh, very heavy."
(September 24, 1964)
"The Warren Commission! What the hell do they know? Did they learn anything
you couldn't read in the papers the next day?"
(Letter quoted in Argosy magazine, September 1967)
"I do not want to die. But I am not insane. I was framed to kill Oswald."
(to psychiatrist Werner Teuter, quoted in London Sunday Times,
"If ten more wiretaps could have found the conspiracy [to assassinate
JFK]--uh, if it was a conspiracy--or the individual, then it would have been
(August 22, 1973 press conference)
"The fact that more than one person is engaged in an enterprise does not
necessarily make it a conspiracy."
(September 11, 1966 New York Times column)
"You don't have to be a third-order conspiracist to understand that the
[JFK] investigation has to be reopened."
(September 15, 1975, Washington Post column)
"Theories about second assassins and missing bullets, which were once
the exclusive property of idiots, are now debated seriously by responsible
(Spring 1975 San Francisco Chronicle column)