News Archive

 Warren Commission Report is 35 years old on September 27, 1999
Haven't you waited long enough for the truth?

 Warren Commission Errors by Martin Shackelford (9-22-99)

At Work:

1. No staff of investigators; near-total dependence on information
gathered by others, while claiming to conduct "an independent
investigation." In its "Forward to the Report," 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 forensic pathologists.
4. The decision not to question Jack Ruby away from Dallas.
5. The decision to assume Oswald's guilt at the outset, and the
adversarial attitude toward witnesses who didn't assume it.
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 Report:

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
the head.

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 hospital pathology,
it is questionable.

4. It implies that the head wound described in the autopsy report
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 the outset," and suggests that
the actual sole source, the Depository, was identified "within minutes." The
House Select Committee on Assassinations found witnesses and evidence
that supported a shot from the grassy knoll"some of them known to the
Warren Commission, but disregarded or subjected to hostile questioning.

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, saying "Not more
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 a
prosecutor,s brief more than the objective analysis claimed by the

9. "On the bus was Mrs. Mary Bledsoe, one of Oswald's former landladies,
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, Milton Jones.

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 house.

13. Neutrally, we are told "The assailant ran into the lot, discarded
his jacket and then continued his flight west on Jefferson," but not
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 crime organization;
his uncle worked for Marcello, and his mother dated Marcello employees.
An odd man with Mob and intelligence connections, David Ferrie, headed
the unofficial Civil Air Patrol unit that Oswald joined. The "loner"
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 Idle
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 the Queen
Bee, an expensive nightclub out of the price range of a simple Marine.
Also avoided is any mention of the Atsugi base at which he was
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 leaving for

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 intended

20. There is mention that he entered the Soviet Union via Finland, but
not that he somehow knew that Helsinki was the easiest entry point.

21. There is no mention that he told the U.S. embassy he intended to
give the Russians information he had learned in the Marines. Perhaps
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 community,s
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 compatible" after the
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 Central America
    who reported seeing them on the street, and in Mancuso's
    Restaurant (in the same building as Banister,s office. David Ferrie
    also worked with Banister.

26. We're told that he visited the Mexico City embassies of Cuba and the
Soviet Union,

  • 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 Mexican secretary,
    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 Bledsoe briefly,
it restates (again probably incorrectly) that she saw him on the bus after
the assassination.

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 hiring.

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 avoid contradicting
itself). The falsehood adds to the picture of finality the Commission
seeks to paint. The reality is much less clearcut.

31. The Commission's Oswald placed "a long, bulky package" 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 the disassembled
rifle, and it seemed light enough that Frazier, who had worked in a
department store, believed Oswald's statement that the package contained
curtain rods.

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 wasn,' carrying

33. The Commission says that "positive firearm identification evidence
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, the Commission
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 shouting questions
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 impulse," he
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, Ronald Fuller,
according to the man who found it.
3. We have here the false claim that the Single Bullet Theory "is not
necessary to any essential findings of the Commission," though without
it a lone assassin would be impossible.
4. Though no one saw the Mannlicher-Carcano in Oswald,s possession
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 also "not
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 22, 1963."
6. And we have only the word of Howard Brennan that "Oswald, at the
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 jacket" was
found abandoned.
10. We are told that Oswald was given the opportunity to obtain
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 as "harassment"
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, because it
couldn't tie Oswald or Ruby to one or to each other, it said.
13. The Commission couldn,' figure out a motive for killing the
President, either, so it offered a list of possible "contributing
14. One of these is "His inability to enter into meaningful
relationships with people." At the time, people who had known Oswald
well were living in fear that they would be accused of being
accomplices. As time went on, we,ve learned about more of these
"meaningful relationships" he supposedly didn,t have.
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 Service" oops, the
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.



 Read these thought provoking quotes on the Warren Commission .

compiled by Martin Shackelford

26 VolumesJohn 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 actions."

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 second."
(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 rescinded."
(from "Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye")

Dave Powers:
"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 bow,
but he has a long way to go before he can make music."
(quoted by Marshall Houts in his biography of Helpern, "Where Death Delights")

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, nothing."

H.R. Haldeman, on a panel to investigate Watergate, March 27, 1973:
"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 release)
"We have not been told the truth about Oswald."
(Letter to critic Harold Weisberg)

Hale Boggs, Warren Commission member, on the Single Bullet Theory:
"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 Director:
"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 Epstein, "Inquest")

"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 of Investigation."
(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 Respect to
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 Report:
"It's, uh, very heavy."
(September 24, 1964)

Jack Ruby:
"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, August
25, 1974)

Richard Nixon:
"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 worth it."
(August 22, 1973 press conference)

Henry Fairlie:
"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)

William Raspberry:
"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)

Marianne Means:
"Theories about second assassins and missing bullets, which were once the exclusive property of idiots, are now debated seriously by responsible people."
(Spring 1975 San Francisco Chronicle column)


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