Questions for which the Commission was present include the following categories (Brown, op. cit,, p281):
Preliminaries - 805 (2.1%)
To the point - 1,537 (4.1%)
Not vital - 16,073 (43.3%)
Clarification - 7,354 (19.8%)
Leading/hearsay 9,676 (26.0%)
Conclusionary - 922 (2.4%)
Foregone conclusion 323 (0.80%)
Nonsense - 407 (1.09%)
The category basic definitions are (op. cit, p279):
'Preliminaries' - introductory questions re: background, education, job, family life, etc
'To the point' - Questions materially contributing to investigation
'Not vital' - Questions that "add nothing to the record"
'Clarification' - Questions clarifying earlier answers.
'Leading/hearsay' - 'Questions' in which witnesses were told the 'answers' in advance - then merely asked a series of yes/no questions about them
'Conclusionary' - Questions calling on witness to draw a conclusion.
'Forgone conclusion' - questions that "reflected the official version yet could not be substantiated by the witness" .
'Nonsense' - self-explanatory (i.e. Do you believe in UFOs?)
Most appalling is that the 'to the point' category comprised an insignificant 4.1 % of the total for which the Commissioners were present. For the percentage of all the questions asked - with or without the Commissioners present, that went up a 'mighty' three tenths of a point, to 4.4% (op.cit., p281). Thus, despite the motif of ponderous research, it is doubtful that this 'Report' - couched in its magnificent and portentous 26 volumes of body, approaches the investigative level of those books blithely dismissed as 'buff'.
Who were not asked questions?
200 witnesses- "each with knowledge at least as valuable as that given by the 488 commission witnesses" were not asked questions. These included:
Tom Alyea (who allegedly first filmed the sniper's 'nest'),
Charles A. Crenshaw (Parkland surgical resident at the time - who observed the massive rear head wound)
Julia Ann Mercer, (who observed Jack Ruby driving a pickup with a rifle near the Triple Underpass)
William Harper (who found the occipital bone fragment behind the limo, on Elm St.);
Guy Banister (who ran the 544 Camp St. office in New Orleans from which Oswald distributed leaflets);
Joseph Milteer (the right wing zealot who had been taped by an FBI informant in Miami predicting a sniper shooting from an office bldg. - given "clean bill of health" by FBI' (Brown, op. cit.,p383);
Sergio Archacha Smith, likely suspect in the Walker shooting, in Dallas
Mary Moorman, took a number of photos at the instant of the head shot, and confronted by the FBI which confiscated them.
Aquilla Clemons (who observed the Tippitt shooting, and saw another man - not Oswald, doing it);
Pvt. Gordon Arnold (who was standing on the grass in front of the knoll's picket fence when a percussion from a shot made him hit the dirt - he was later sent to Alaska by the Army);
Orville Nix - who took the Nix film, from the opposite side of Elm Street
Mary Muchmore, whose original film was cut/mutilated on return, at the instant of the head shot ( 'The Killing of a President', 1994: Groden, R.J., Viking Penguin. p. 37)
Richard Case Nagell- Double agent, "so concerned with having an alibi for November 22, that he fired a pistol at a ceiling in a bank so as to be in jail" (Brown , p387).
The full list of all 200 witnesses not asked questions by the Warren Commission is given in Brown, 'Treachery In Dallas', (pp381-89)
What was the Katzenbach Memo, and what has it to do with the Warren Commission?
This was a memo written to Bill Moyers, dated 25 November, 1963. Many conspiracy researchers believe that it set the tone and the 'primary directive' for the Warren Commission's agenda - to find for the 'lone nut' at all costs. The most germane part to this discussion is:
"It is important that all 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. "
To the conspiracy thinker, the above enumerated first part of the memo provides enough evidence to disclose what the true purpose of any 'formal' or 'official' investigation would be: to arrive at a
preconceived and pre-accepted conclusion that was politically and socially expedient, rather than an outcome of an open-ended, genuine investigation. This also goes under the rubric of a fundamental logical no-no called 'Affirming the consequent' - i.e. affirming ab initio that which you need to prove. Taking the shortcut - avoiding the process, more: ensuring the outcome of the process blends with one's own 'truth'. A much more acceptable version for public consumption. Expediency.
A multitude of Commission actions confirm their adherence to this misbegotten directive, including (but not limited to) their over-weaning reliance on a highly dubious 'witnesses' (e. g. Howard
Brennan) to the exclusion of others (e.g. Arnold Rowland) - not to mention those with direct knowledge of events who were not called (see partial list given earlier). The very list of those not called totally exposes all pretense toward objectivity claimed by either the Commission, or its apologists. Indeed, it discloses that a 'rubber stamping' expedition was under way, probably from the time of the Katzenbach memo (at least the planning of how the charade would
The Memo goes on:
"2-Speculation about Oswald's motivation ought to be cut off, and we should have some basis for rebutting any thought 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 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
3- The matter has been handled thus far with neither dignity nor conviction. Facts have been mixed with rumor and speculation. We can scarcely let the world see us totally in the image of the Dallas police when our President is murdered."
This section of the memo is likely referencing the Commission's fears (pushed by right wing sources, mainly) that a Castro-Soviet backed communist conspiracy was afoot. The fear was reinforced after the Commission was informed by CIA head Richard Helms of the Kostikov -Department Thirteen connection ("Department Thirteen" was that KGB Section assigned to assassinations) . Earl Warren evidently became so spooked that he felt the only alternative to a possible nuclear confrontation was to find for the lone assassin theory. From then, all evidence, documents and tests became devoted to nailing Oswald as the lone perp, which accounts for (1) of the Katzenbach memo.. It was either that or find him a KGB- hired contract killer, which many (including LBJ) felt would have led to war.
Clearly, Katzenbach himself is skeptical of the Russian conspiracy theory, as noted in the Memo, Section 2.("the facts on Oswald seem too pat", etc.) Careful reading of his words indicates he is decidedly more aggrieved at the Dallas Police Dept., as it was they that began circulating the communist conspiracy theory, but also in their custody Oswald was killed, and by a character - Jack Ruby - well known to the DPD and who often treated them to drinks and 'winks' (of the Strippers) at his bar, The Carousel Club.. Thus, even Katzenbach realizes that the facts -as given, do not add up.
Yet, despite this clear recognition, and rightful skepticism, this second highest prosecutor of the land, is prepared to commit himself to paper saying "the public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin" etc. In other words to flout the essence of justice in this country, by finding a man guilty even before being brought to trial
Why not dissent more boldly and declare the need for a truly objective Commission process, as opposed to a Kangaroo court sideshow and whitewash? Probably because the threat of LBJ blackmail hung over him, to coerce him to conform, as it hung over Earl Warren and god knows how many others.
The Memo is used by some as a proof that Oswald didn't do it. No?
It cannot be used as 'proof' one way or the other. However, it shows an implicit directive to overlook any evidence pointing to suspicious others named by witnesses, apart from Oswald. In other words, it is a revelation of an ideal cover for those who might actually have been involved, whether Katzenbach intended it to be such or not. It is a sordid revelation, in other words, of blatant prejudice - as opposed to the appearance of a full and open inquiry which the Warren Commission sought to portray.
At worst, this memo indicates a conspiracy to convict Oswald, which is not the same as a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. If the existence of the memo is indicative of a conspiracy to frame Oswald (he couldn't be 'convicted' because this wasn't an actual trial) then it is ipso facto also indicative of a conspiracy to protect those who actually did kill Kennedy. Else, why try to set up Oswald by so consistently by selectively refuting anything that might point the other way? This is the $64,000 question any serious dissenter must address and answer honestly without obfuscation, spin or the usual distractive tactics ('change the topic if the going gets too hot'). I have yet to see a single coherent statement or response in which dissenters deal with the Katzenbach memo in a forthright and honest manner.
Did J. Edgar Hoover play any role in the Warren Commission?
It appears that he supported the propaganda circulated in the Katzenbach Memo, as Mark North notes ('Act of Treason', p392):
"Before JFK's casket reached Andrews Air Force Base and Oswald is charged with anything, Hoover is asserting in writing that Oswald is guilty."
Hoover also conveyed instructions to Dallas Attorney Shanklin to 'sanitize' Oswald's files, thereby cleansing them of any FBI affiliations (ibid.). (Researchers believe this was important since Oswald likely worked as a part time FBI asset, i.e. in trying to expose illegal gun purchases - and this explains why he ordered the 6.5 mm Mannlicher Carcano by mail. This was in relation to a law to exclude from importation or re-importation into the United States arms or ammunition originally manufactured for military purposes in foreign nations.)
As North also puts it (ibid.)
"This amounts to wholesale destruction of evidence and nothing less than obstruction of justice."
Later, Hoover goes into action to force retractions of statements (i.e. by Police Chief Jesse Curry and others) that Oswald had FBI associations (op. cit, p. 393). In addition to the above, Hoover (according to North, ibid.):
- "attempted to prevent the Warren Commission from learning of the 9/62 contract by the Marcello organization" (New Orleans' Mafia) on JFK's life (op. cit, . p.394)
- "Launched a disinformation campaign to prevent the media from getting a clearer picture of the assassination" (op. cit. p. 395)
This includes suggestions that the paraffin test (which actually suggest his innocence) really implicated him. (ibid.)
- "Supplied a copy of his Report (to the Commission), after much prodding, only on condition that "members of the Commission publicly agree with his conclusions" (op. cit., p. 397)
- Attempts to recruit Johnson in deflecting the Commission's demand for 'raw' FBI files (op. cit., p. 398).
He is unsuccessful, only "managing to delay compliance for almost one month".
-"Attempts to inundate the Commission with irrelevant data" (op. cit. p. 399)
This apparently fails "as evidenced by 52 written interrogatories sent to him on March 26, 1964". (ibid.)
Clearly, from the preceding, Hoover had little interest in getting to the truth and greater interest in using Oswald as a convenient foil. As a pal of LBJ's this also makes total sense, to help cover LBJ's tracks.
As North also notes (in regard to the latter): op. cit., p. 392:
"The aging icon is given control of the case, and immediately sets about gaining control of the Dallas PD, no small task. In the ensuing chaos, Marcello functionary and Dallas P.D. liaison Jack Ruby murders Oswald. This is an incredible stroke of luck for Hoover, who wastes no time capitalizing on the new situation. Sunday afternoon the Director instructs Dallas SAC Shanklin to sanitize Oswald's file. The official quickly complies. This amounts to wholesale destruction of evidence and nothing less than obstruction of justice."
op. cit. p. 394:
"Hoover's next and near simultaneous objective is to attempt to prevent the public, and the Warren Commission, from learning of the Marcello contract, as well as his, Clyde's and Evans involvement in it. Fortunately for the Director, he has an ally in the Dallas P.D., which is not anxious for the American people to learn that Ruby was Carlos Marcello's liaison to the dept."
"The week of November 25, Hoover makes direct attempts to prevent Bureau personnel from examining the Marcello organization, with only limited success. Ruby's ties to Civello and McWillie also become apparent."
op. cit., p. 400:
"From 11/22/63 onward, the symbiotic nature of the Hoover/Johnson relationship becomes evermore apparent. From the beginning, Johnson is deeply indebted to the Director. Having contained the (Billy Sol) Estes scandal and blunted the initial investigation into the (Bobby) Baker/Johnson/ mafia connection, Hoover is now in a position to demand much. LBJ, with his ill-gotten power, is in a position to comply...... from the morning of November 23 onwards, Johnson gives Hoover complete control of the investigation. Justice Dept. access to Bureau files on Baker-Levinson etc, is cut off. The following day, Johnson meets with Texas A.G. Waggoner Carr, undoubtedly suggesting the official give Hoover his full cooperation. By November 25, Johnson is telling everyone concerned that Hoover is in charge of the investigation."
op. cit., p. 402:
"With the assassination, Robert Kennedy is effectively removed from power. By November 30, his hotline to Hoover is disconnected."
op. cit,.p. 404:
"With the murder of Oswald, and the advent of Hoover's disinformation campaign, the overall quality of reporting suffers. Clearly the press becomes confused, not knowing whom to believe. The European press, viewing the events from a position of greater objectivity, is not fooled. By November 27, they openly accuse Hoover of complicity, and suggest the mafia is behind Ruby. Domestically, disinformation releases regarding Oswald intensify."
What was the actual purpose of the Warren Commission?
In all probability, given the highly incriminating memo of Katzenbach (above) in concert with the Johnson- Hoover hijinks (including Johnson's ordering evidence destroyed, such as JFK's suit coat as well as the limo disassembled, the dual purpose was: a) to protect LBJ's ass from any suspicion of complicity and b) to do 'damage control' on the U.S. International image, while scotching rumors that the country's leader was felled by an internal conspiracy. Perhaps this has been forcefully argued nowhere more compellingly that in an article written for The New Republic of June 13, 1964 by Murray Kempton. Some excerpts:
The Warren Commission has come to the moment of decision, and now the only voice we hear from it takes us back to Lord Jeffreys, so exacerbated by the mere sight of a defense, that he cannot endure the formal processes of its trial before shouting it down from the bench. "
The Warren Commission began with the serious handicap of a conception that its duties included a cosmetic job on the American image. Its assignment was not just to find out the truth about a terrible tangle of events but also --- one fears even primarily --- to reassure and unite America and to reassure and quiet down Europe. This aspiration reflected itself in the composition of the commission. It cannot be said that every American trusts every member of the commission; but certainly every member happens to be trusted by someone or other whose good opinion is worth having."
The commission may have been conceived as nothing more than a transient instrument to promote foreign relations and to insure domestic tranquility But, if it was politics that put them there, it is history which holds these men now, because they are all the servants it has. They sit under the claim of history and of all we owe the memory of John F. Kennedy and, let us not forget, the ghost of Lee Oswald. If the burden of service to all these things does not demand from these men the conduct we expect from a court of law, then just where is the court of law whose functions are so much more consequential than theirs as to demand --- dignity, a decorum and a detachment that we do not expect
the Warren Commission has kept the direct physical evidence secret. It is hard to understand why this is necessary
The pattern has been to say what this evidence shows without ever showing the evidence. The commission spokesman tells Anthony Lewis, how many shots were fired and where two of them landed without offering the medical report upon which I certainly hope and would like to believe any
statement from an official source would be based.
In conclusion, let's be aware that by way of his creation of the Warren Commission on November 29, 1963, LBJ acquired the total power to block any House, Senate or Texas state investigations, while awarding himself the power (via underlings like Hoover, Dulles) to control all evidence that might possibly surface, and either ignore it, suppress it or allow it to be distorted- thereby further distancing himself, all in the name of “seeking justice”.
The wary reader doesn't have to accept this at first blush, or exposure, but all one can ask is that reader put on his critical thinking cap and go through all of LBJ's documented actions. He in effect, devised the perfect vehicle to cover up the executive action carried out by the national security state and its cronies - and thereby benefited from the state once Kennedy was dead.
Despite Vince Bugliosi’s mythologizing, or Bill Moyers being “appalled”, Johnson remains the key suspect in at least finalizing the plans for the assassination, probably in collusion with his “Texas Rangers” fund raisers: Mayor Earl Cabell of Dallas (brother of JFK-terminated CIA Deputy Chief Charles Cabell), and H.L. Hunt. The last two, in conjunction with the Dallas Police, were responsible for altering the motorcade route at the last minute, so instead of going directly along
As for Johnson, the ultimate “smoking bullet” in the sad and sorry inventory of that era is none other than his own fraudulent “commission”. For if LBJ truly wasn’t involved, then why on earth would he not want to go all out to penetrate every last nook and cranny in a no-holds barred investigation? But as the evidence shows, there were plenty of holds, set up not only by his pal
Bottom line: Anyone, any author, any reporter, any TV or media person, who accepts the conclusions of this Commission accepts a fraud, and can therefore himself be deemed a fraud, a dupe or worse, part of the ongoing cover up.