U.S. GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATIONS AND HEARINGS: U.S. government investigations and hearings are based on testimony, exhibits, artifacts, documents (and other "paper"), depositions, etc.
U.S. government investigations and hearings are held by two of the three branches of the government, the executive and legislative. The federal judiciary seldom runs independent inquiries, though federal grand jury proceedings and hearings are often held (as well as, recently, specially-appointed Special Prosecutor investigations), and the Supreme Court sometimes invites key appeals cases to be argued before it.
The executive branch (the so-called "administration") includes the president, the vice-president, the cabinet and cabinet officers (usually the so-called "secretaries," the civilian heads of administrative departments appointed by the president, or their designated surrogates), the departments and their divisions (the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example), and subdivisions of the departments (the Treasury Department, including the Secret Service and its various sub-divisions, for example). The departments are able to initiate fact-finding/investigative hearings and inquiries, usually at the request or command of the president. Various departments and sub-divisions have certain investigative and arrest authority granted them by U.S. law (the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms subdivision of the Treasury Department, for example, in the 1960s).
The U.S. legislative branch is the Congress: the "House" and the "Senate," a two-house or "bicameral" operation. Congress holds the largest number of investigations; the legal intent of each inquiry is traditionally to gather sufficient information either to repeal or modify standing federal laws and codes or to enact new federal laws and codes. Each "house": the Senate (of senators) and the House (of representatives) has a large number of so-called standing or permanent committees which hold regular and special hearings, etc. An ad hoc (temporary/select purpose) committee will occasionally be organized, and in both the Senate and the House that committee is called a "select" committee: for example, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (investigating both the murders of JFK and MLK). For some problems, a "joint" select committee (made up of both senators and representatives) is appointed, usually for pending taxing and funding legislation.
The president is able to request that Congress initiate an inquiry, but the president cannot order such an inquiry: the legislative branch is independent of the executive branch (all three branches, including the judiciary, are independent of each other).
Besides inquiries initiated by the legislative branch and by the executive branch's departments and divisions, an inquiry can be initiated by the president alone: a presidential committee or commission or board. Such a president's commission can theoretically have its members drawn from any part of U.S. citizenry. Senators, representatives, judges, former government officials, military, law enforcement officers, private citizens, etc., are all eligible to serve on presidential committees or commissions (by appointment of the president). Whether any particular individual should be appointed is a separate issue.
(1)THE WARREN COMMISSION:
Briefly, after JFK died, the president (LBJ) appointed an elite presidential committee, an all-male board of inquiry, in this instance called a "commission," to examine the circumstances of the three Dallas deaths. The chair of the commission was Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren: hence the popular name: the "Warren Commission."
The Warren Commission had no supporting independent investigative body, though it did have its own staff. It relied principally on the FBI, with assistance supplied by other Federal investigative units, including the CIA and the Secret Service).
Testimony (usually oral), sworn to and therefore subjecting the witness to possible perjury charges if found to be substantially untrue, was given the Warren Commission in its so-called "hearings," then transcribed and sometimes edited (usually without the knowledge of the witness), and then ultimately printed in the Hearings volumes. All twenty-six volumes of the Warren Commission's Hearings, not including the Warren Report, will hereafter be designated "H," as in 1 H (=the first volume of the Hearings, 12 H (=the twelfth volume of the Hearings), etc. The actual volumes are unhelpfully designated by Roman numbers, often confusing both readers and researchers (as in I, II, III, XIII, XXIV, etc.). Remember, when you see 5 H, you are to understand that the reference is to the fifth volume of the Commission's Hearings/volumes; 24 H, the twenty-fourth, 3 H, the third, etc.
Some of this testimony was also printed in the Commission's final report, hereafter called "R." Remember, when you see R 410, for example, you are to understand that the reference is the Warren Report, page 410 (you need not use "page," "pages," "p.," or "pp.": they are all redundant. R 3 means the third page of the Report; R 123 means the one-hundred and twenty-third page of the Warren Report, etc.
*PHYSICAL EXHIBITS: artifacts (actual objects: a rifle, for example) used in the interrogation of witnesses were photographed to be included (as reproduced) in H (the hearings volumes). Only some of these photographed exhibits were also reproduced in R (the Warren Report).
*DOCUMENTS AND OTHER "PAPER": documents used in the interrogation of witnesses were photographed to be included (as reproduced) in H. Some were also reproduced in R.
*PHOTOGRAPHS: photos used in the interrogation of witnesses were reproduced to be included (as reproduced) in H. Only some were also reproduced in R.
*MAPS, DRAWINGS, ETC.: graphics used in the interrogation of witnesses were reproduced to be included (as reproduced) in H.
Note that commercial versions of the Warren Report often do NOT have the same pagination as the government's printed version and that many commercial versions contain reproductions of photos and graphics NOT in evidence in the Warren Commission's investigation, hearings, hearings volumes, or report.
*DEPOSITIONS (sworn-to statements in writing: typed or printed) were photographed to be included (as reproduced) in H.
Where Are The Exhibits?
*Actual transcripts of testimonies as they were given are reportedly stored in the National Archives (reportedly on court reporter tape).
*Actual exhibits: actual artifacts, original documents, and original photos are reportedly stored in the National Archives (some original exhibits, however, have been reported missing from the Archives: for example, the original FBI spectrographic reports and papers).
*Actual depositions are reportedly stored in the National Archives.
In effect, then, neither H nor R contains anything "real": every document, deposition, photograph, etc., appearing in H and R has been photographed and reproduced.
THE REPORT AND THE TWENTY-SIX VOLUMES:
Reports are the usual outcome of most committees, commissions, boards, etc., whether legislative, executive, or presidential. The Warren Commission's staff eventually produced a report: the so-called "Warren Report."
Later, the Commission staff also produced the so-called "twenty-six volumes," in an attempt to support the earlier Report. Many committees, commissions, boards, etc., publish transcripts of witness testimony, sessions of the committee, and documentary and supporting materials:
Where Does A Researcher Search In Warren Commission's Materials?
IN THE "WARREN REPORT" (=R):
*"CONTENTS" pages: R xvii-xxiv, a topical outline of the Warren Report. The search for a research topic could begin here: for example, (broadly) "The Selective Service and the Assassination." In the "Contents" pages alone a beginning researcher will find that most of Chapter Two (II), R 28-58, and most of Chapter Eight (VIII), R 425-470, deal with the Secret Service. And the extensive documentation for both of these chapters (whether adequate or not) is found in the back of the Report, beginning on R 817 (the documentation is called "Footnotes": actually they are "end notes"). For example, Chapter Two's documentation is in R 817-819, referring to testimony, exhibits, depositions, etc., reproduced in the twenty-six supporting volumes.
*"LIST OF WITNESSES" in Appendix V, R 483-500: 552 witnesses are listed "...whose testimony has been presented to the Commission." (R 483) Check the introductory paragraph on R 483 for specific information on the kinds of "witnesses" listed. Following up on a possible Secret Service focus, one finds, for example, "Hill, Clinton J.," "Agent, U.S, Secret Service," Vol. II, p, 132," on R 489 in the "LIST OF WITNESSES," indicating that Secret Service Agent Clint Hill's testimony to the Warren Commission begins on page 132 of the second volume of the "Hearings." All the Secret Service agents who gave testimony before the Commission are listed in the "LIST OF WITNESSES," Appendix V, R 483-500.
*"INDEX" in R 880-888: primarily a name index to the Warren Report, but a few groups and places are listed: for example, the "Texas School Book Depository" (R 887) and the "Secret Service" (R 887: twenty-nine references).
IN THE TWENTY-SIX "HEARINGS" VOLUMES
(1 H THROUGH 26 H)
*"INDEX" in 15 H 753-826 (in three parts):
Note that this "INDEX" is a section of the fifteenth (XV) volume of the twenty-six volumes. I have copied these pages and keep them at hand, labeled "Hearings Index 15 H 753-826."
*"NAMES": listing of persons who testified and/or were referred to in the "Hearings" with volume citations (15 H 753-801).
*"COMMISSION EXHIBITS": listing of exhibits introduced in witness testimony as reproduced in 1 H through 5 H (15 H 801-813).
*"DEPOSITION EXHIBITS": a listing of depositions read into the "Hearings" record during witness testimony as reproduced in 6 H through 15 H (15 H 813-826). Please observe that 15 H is a volume of "testimony" but ends with the above three-part "Index," a research aid often overlooked. The answer to the question, "Is there an index to the twenty-six volumes?" is not "No," but "Sort of, but it's in the middle of the twenty-six volumes."
Observe that the first fifteen Warren Commission volumes have now been significantly distinguished:
*1 H through 5 H are associated with "Commission Exhibits" while
*6 H though 15 H are associated with "Deposition Exhibits." The following discussion explains why.
What's In The Twenty-Six Volumes? (1 H Through 26 H)
WITNESS TESTIMONY (1 H through 15 H):
In Two Parts:
*1 H through 5 H: Witness testimony heard by Warren Commission members (seldom by all the Commission members sitting together at one time) in Washington, D.C. and printed in chronological order, that is, in the sequence in which the witnesses appeared before the Commission, but with some significant juxtapositioning and reversals. "Commission Exhibits" were introduced during this testimony.
*6 H through 15 H: Witness testimony heard by Warren Commission counsel (staff lawyers and workers), NOT by the Commission's members, with a court reporter present recording the testimony, usually in Dallas, resulting in a so-called "deposition." These depositions are arranged or organized from 6 H through 15 H roughly by evidence area; for example, rifles; ballistics; medical material; etc. This evidence area arrangement is often overlooked.
EXHIBITS (16 H through 26 H):
*"COMMISSION EXHIBITS" (=CE) in 16 H through 18 H. These Commission Exhibits are identified by number (CE 318, for example) as they were entered into the "Hearings" record during witness testimony before the Warren Commission recorded in 1 H through 5 H. These "Commission Exhibits" are in three consecutive volumes:
16 H, containing CE 1 through CE 391; 17 H, containing CE 392 through CE 884; 18 H, containing CE 885 through CE 1053.
Therefore, to examine witness testimony given in the presence of Warren Commission members, the researcher needs the five volumes from 1 H through 5 H and the three volumes from 16 H through 18 H: that is, the researcher needs both the witness testimony and the Commission Exhibits linked to that witness testimony.
*"DEPOSITION EXHIBITS" (=DE, when needed) in 19 H through 21 H. These "Deposition Exhibits" were entered into the "Hearings" record during testimony given before Warren Commission counsel (NOT before Warren Commission members) and reproduced in 6 H through 15 H. These "Deposition Exhibits" are identified by name and number; often the "name" has little or nothing to do with the actual subject or subjects of the deposition. A typical Deposition Exhibit is "Ruby Exhibit #1" in the twenty-first volume. But "Ruby" does not refer to Jack Ruby but to Sam Ruby, his brother. The relevant material in the "deposition" is, however, about Jack Ruby. The simplest way to record these "Deposition Exhibits is: 21 H (Ruby Exhibit No. 1) 376 or 21 H (Ruby [Sam] Exhibit No. 1 376. The number 376 is, of course, the page number in the twenty-first volume. What relevant material will you find there? Material on Leon Cooke, the Chicago Waste Handlers' Union, and Jack Ruby's role as a union "organizer."
Therefore, unless the researcher becomes familiar with both the shape and content of these Warren Commission materials, a citation in another researcher's book or article such as 20 H (Hall [C. Ray] Exhibit No. 1) 37 directing the reader to information on Ruby being "...held in jail overnight for questioning" as a material witness in the Leon Cooke Chicago shooting will either not be understood or worse, not be found.
*"COMMISSION EXHIBITS" (=CE) in 22 H through 26 H, containing CE 1054 through CE 3154.
22H contains CE1054 through CE 1512;
23H contains CE1513 through CE 1975;
24H contains CE1976 through CE 2189;
25H contains CE2190 through CE 2651;
26H contains CE2652 through CE 3154.
Note that the numbering continues from 18 H, in which the last CE was numbered 1511.
These "Commission Exhibits," identified by the above numbers, were (in Sylvia Meagher's observation)"...selected by an unspecified criterion and not linked with specific testimony during the [Warren Commission's] hearings." (Accessories After the Fact, xxvii.)
Several researchers, however, including Harold Weisberg, Peter Dale Scott, George Michael Evica, and Sylvia Meagher herself, found valuable material buried in 22 H through 26 H. Also, some "order," eccentric as it may be, can be discerned in 22 H through 26 H (more on this eccentric "order" later).
Summary: the Warren Report becomes R, as in R 23; the Hearings volumes become H, as in 7 H 23; Commission Exhibits become CE, as in CE 1051; Deposition Exhibits become simply Exhibits, as in 20 H (Hall Exhibit No.1) 37, and later Commission Exhibits become, for example, 25 H CE 2190.
In the June issue of The Assassination Chronicles, more on researching the Warren Commission materials using R and 1 H through 26 H, plus how to most effectively use the twenty-six volumes with further researcher aids found in the twenty-six volumes; and how to use several key researchers' works most effectively.
Submission of articles to the KAC for possible publication: please adopt these documentation/note conventions.
George Michael Evica
JFK Assassination LINKS
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