JAHS Chapter 10
The Vanishing Act
On 1-23 we see a “Statement of Objectives,” a memo written by Arlen Specter to General Counsel J. Lee Rankin of the Warren Commission. This memo spells out which aspects of the case Area 1 Junior Counsel Specter and Senior Counsel Francis Adams hope to clear up, and how they plan on clearing them up. Among their objectives (with my comments in parentheses):
g) There would seem to be considerable amount of confusion as to the actual path of the bullets which hit President Kennedy, particularly the one which hit the right side of the back. (It would eventually be decided that the Warren Report should refer to this wound as a wound at the base of the neck or a neck wound, and not as a back wound, even though Specter knew for a fact it was a back wound.)
i) Consideration should be given to taking the sworn testimony of the bystander witnesses. (Very few bystanders not already questioned by the FBI by 12-9 were identified and interviewed for the Warren Commission, and many of those who were contacted were not asked to describe what they’d witnessed. Even worse, very few of those interviewed by the FBI by 12-9 were asked to testify under oath before the commission, even though a number of those who were asked to testify disputed the FBI's reports on their earlier statements.)
m) Consideration should be given to obtaining the camera to determine if the speed of the vehicle can be ascertained and the timing between shots from a review of the film. (The speed of the camera and therefore the vehicle had been determined by the FBI more than a month before this memo was written. Perhaps this is an indication that, as late as 1-23-64, the FBI was still withholding important information from the Warren Commission.)
n) The FBI should obtain statements from certain bystanders, identified in prior reports, who have not been interviewed. (This was done selectively. Key witnesses such as James Chaney--the motorcycle officer riding in the motorcade off Kennedy's right shoulder--and Marilyn Sitzman--Abraham Zapruder's secretary--were never interviewed for the commission.)
o) Newspaper reports of November 22nd through the next few days should be reviewed to consider questions in the public mind and to determine whether there is any competent evidentiary basis for allegations of fact which differ from the FBI or Secret Service reports. (The numerous reports of shots fired after the head shot and shots fired closely together were largely ignored by the Commission.)
p) Obtain expert opinions from medical personnel and professionals in weaponry field to explain the path pf the bullet in President Kennedy’s body. (It was decided that the military doctors who’d performed Kennedy’s autopsy would serve as the Warren Commission’s medical experts as well. Curiously, the wound ballistics experts who served as advisers to the commission were also all affiliated with the military. A truly independent investigation would have contacted civilian experts as well as military experts.)
q) Obtain the transcript of the television interview by the doctors at Parkland Hospital on the evening of November 22nd. (This was not done.)
Adams and Specter are not the only two writing such a memo, of course. The lawyers representing each area of the commission's investigation have written such a memo. The Area 2 team of Joseph Ball and David Belin have written a similar memo to Rankin entitled "Outline of objectives and problems of area of study of Messr.s Joseph A. Ball and David W. Belin: the determination of who was the assassin of President Kennedy." This is pretty much an outline reflecting the evidence against Oswald. Under the subject heading of "The Whole Bullet Found," however, there is a question that Ball and Belin presumably plan on answering. They write "What about the trajectory of the bullet in the angle of striking--point of exit appears higher than point of entry."
The significance of this becomes apparent a few days later. During the 1-27 Executive Session of the Commission, General Counsel J. Lee Rankin brings up a serious problem with the medical evidence: a "picture" created at the autopsy has the back wound entrance lower than the throat wound exit, when the Zapruder film shows Kennedy sitting up in his seat when first hit, and the bullet is believed to have come from sharply upwards of the President, from the sixth floor of the School Book Depository. Rankin concludes his discussion of the problem by informing the commission he will be seeking "help" from the doctors. (Much more on this later.)
The next day a new witness is brought forward. F. Lee Mudd (1-28-64 FBI report, 24H538) “he was watching the parade from a position on the north side of Elm Street and some 75 to 100 feet west of a building, which he later learned was the Texas School Book Depository. He saw the president’s car approaching from the east on Elm Street in the parade, and he recognized President Kennedy and saw him waving to the crowd. When the President’s car was some 50 feet or more away from him, he heard what sounded to him like two gunshots, and he saw the President slump. Immediately thereafter, he observed the President’s car pull out of the line of the parade and continue west on Elm Street toward the underpass. When the President’s car came abreast of Mudd, he could see the President slumped down toward his wife, who was leaning over him…Mr. Mudd stated he definitely recalls hearing two shots probably less than a second apart…he said there may have been a third shot fired, but he could not be sure of this. He stated that immediately after the shots were fired, some of the spectators along the side of the street dropped to the ground, and he did so himself.” Double head shot.
Meanwhile, back in Dallas, the trial of Oswald's assailant, Jack Ruby, comes up on the horizon. His lawyers hoped to avoid a trial by claiming he 'd been temporarily insane when he killed Oswald in front of a national television audience. But this was Texas. No such luck.
Above: Jack Ruby after undergoing a psychiatric examination on 1-28-64.
On 1-27 and 1-28, FBI Exhibits Chief Leo Gauthier watches the Zapruder and Nix films with representatives of the Commission, along with Thomas Kelley of the Secret Service. On 1-28-64, he writes another memo to his superior Nicholas Callahan, and informs him that, while the Warren Commission's staff are in basic agreement with the location of the FBI and Secret Service's proposed first shot, they agree with neither the FBI nor Secret Service's determination as to the moment of the second shot's impact (which are "13 frames" apart). He then notes that they have "individual views concerning where Connally was shot" (with what they presume to have been the second bullet), and that they feel "this may have occurred between frames 56 thru 73."
Well, heck, this translates to frames 280 to 297, which puts this shot far too close to the fatal head shot at frame 313 to have been fired from the presumed assassination rifle. So...were they thinking there was a second shooter? Nope. Gauthier then notes that that the staff will not make a decision regarding the location of the limo at the time of the second shot until they "obtain a layman's report of the medical account describing the Governor's wounds in order that the turning action of the Governor as viewed in the movie can be used to more nearly fix the position he was in at the time the bullet struck him in the back."
Yep, you read that right. The staff has already made up their minds that the shot came from the school book depository, and are waiting to figure out the moment in which Connally's wounds best align with a shot from the depository, before declaring that to be the moment he was shot. Well, hell. This is not an investigation. This is a textbook case of reverse engineering.
The next paragraph in Gauthier's report is also intriguing. He writes: "One staff member, according to Inspector Kelley, quietly spoke about the 'outside' possibility of shot one going through the President with sufficient velocity remaining to penetrate Connally's body, wrist, and leg. Inspector Kelley mentioned this to me confidentially. He was of the opinion that this was a personal remark made on the spur of the moment. Shot two under those ridiculous facts would have gone completely 'wild' according to Kelley." Thus, the single-bullet theory is already on somebody's mind, and is being ridiculed by the FBI. This confirms that, despite the FBI's knowledge of the wounding of bystander James Tague by a stray bullet or bullet fragment, neither the Secret Service nor FBI have seriously considered that one of the shots missed, and thus that one of the other shots must have struck both men. Some investigation.
Gauthier's discussion of the third shot is even more intriguing. Here he acknowledges that the FBI and Secret Service "approximations" for the head shot location "differ between one second (18 frames) and 1.5 seconds (29 frames). Staff members are endeavoring to pinpoint the third shot (frame 89) on the Parkway. The Nix film of the third shot clearly locates Zapruder across the roadway. An approximation which occurs 1.2 seconds before the FBI's approximation is being considered as a tentative location for shot three as re-enacted on the scale model again with a minus or plus factor of 1/3 second (6 feet) either direction. Attorney Norman Redlich asked Secret Service to determine from Orville Nix the exact position at the time he made the movies especially whether he was moving at the time he photographed the Presidential car."
This is beyond bizarre. Gauthier admits that the head shot is at frame 89--which one can only assume means frame 313, 89 frames after Kennedy came out from behind the sign at frame 224--and yet finds nothing strange about his earlier "approximation" of the clear moment of impact being 29 frames off the Secret Service's "approximation" of the clear moment of impact, and at least 1.2 seconds (or 22 frames) past the new "tentative location" for the clear moment of impact. Perhaps he was banking that no one reading this report would ever see the Zapruder film, and thus know how impossible it would be for the Secret Service and FBI to so widely disagree on the location of the head shot in the film. Perhaps, then, he was trying to cover up his previous ineptitude. (This memo can be found in FBI File 62-109090, sec. 2, p. 248-250).
There is, of course, a more logical alternative, one previously discussed. This holds that both the FBI and Secret Service deliberately misrepresented the location of the head shot as part of an attempt to stretch out their proposed shooting scenarios and make Oswald's purported feat more believable. Under this theory, their "different" interpretations of the head shot location were just cover to hide that they knew where it was all along, and knew its proximity to the locations of the earlier shots was inconsistent with the premise that Oswald acted alone.
A 1-28 memo to FBI Crime Lab Chief Ivan Conrad on this same meeting with the Warren Commission offers another unadulterated view into the soul of the FBI. (FBI File 62-109090, sec. 2, p. 246) Here, Agent W.D. Griffith presents the perspective of the FBI's photographic expert Lyndal Shaneyfelt, who also attended the meeting, and notes that the Commission representatives "asked whether or not an examination of the Nix camera and film could establish similar distances and car speeds, as well as the location of the Nix camera during the filming which has not been determined." Griffith then notes "It is not clear just what the accurate determination of the speed of the car will contribute to the case, since it is known that the car was traveling relatively slowly; however, Commission representatives have requested that this be established as accurately as possible. SA Shaneyfelt stated that this could be done based on an examination of the films and cameras involved, accompanied by a survey of the actual site in Dallas. They requested that the FBI obtain the Nix camera and make the study of the Nix and Zapruder films as set out above."
This reveals that, amazingly, there seems to be no appreciation by those overseeing the FBI's investigation that the speed of the camera and the limousine can be used to establish the precise timing of the shots, and thus whether or not Oswald's purported shooting feat was even possible. Underlining the incredible apathy and/or malevolence of the FBI, as evidenced by their inability or refusal to accurately place the location of the shots, is a note added to the bottom of this memo by the man himself, J. Edgar Hoover. He writes: "It sounds like a lot of poppycock to me."
On 6-4-64, Shaneyfelt, would be asked to testify about these sessions, and his subsequent experiences with the Commission and the film.
Mr. Specter. Now, how many occasions were you a participant in an analysis of these various films which you have just described?
Mr. Shaneyfelt. Seven.
Mr. Specter: And when was the first time that you were a participant in such an analysis?
Mr. Shaneyfelt:. On January 27, 1964.
Mr. Specter: And who else has been with you at the time you analyzed those films just stating in a general way without identifying each person present on each of the occasions?
Mr. Shaneyfelt:. On most occasions, Mr. Gauthier of the FBI was present, I was present, Mr. Malley of the FBI was present. Inspector Kelley from Secret Service, and Mr. John Howlett from Secret Service. Representatives of the Commission were always present--normally Mr. Redlich, Mr. Specter, or Mr. Eisenberg were present. On several occasions Mr. Ball and Mr. Belin were present. Mr. Rankin was present on some. I believe Mr. McCloy was present on one. Various representatives of the Commission were present.
Mr. Specter. And how long did those sessions ordinarily last?
Mr. Shaneyfelt: They would normally last most of the day, about all day.
Mr. Specter. And what would be done during the course of those analytical sessions?
Mr. Shaneyfelt. In each case we would take the film and run it through regular speed, slow motion, we would stop it on individual frames and study it frame by frame, trying to see in the photographs anything that would give any indication of a shot hitting its mark, a reaction of the President, a reaction of Mr. Connally or Mrs. Connally, reaction of the Secret Service agents, reaction of people in the crowd, relating it to all the facts that we felt were important. When we obtained the slides from Life magazine, we went through those very thoroughly, because they gave so much more detail and were so much clearer and analyzed again all these things about the reaction of the President and Mr. Connally, trying to ascertain where he was reacting--whether either one was reacting to being hit. Of course the only shot that is readily apparent in any of the films, and it appears in the Zapruder, the Nix, and the Muchmore film, is the shot that hit the President in the head.
Mr. Specter. Why do you say that is readily apparent?
Mr. Shaneyfelt. Because on the film there is practically an explosion of his head and this is obviously the shot that hit the President in the head. It is very apparent from the photograph.
On 1-29-64, finally, this all comes to a head, so to speak. A memo from the FBI's Alex Rosen, who oversaw the FBI's criminal investigation of the assassination, with Assistant Director Alan Belmont, once again reveals more than the FBI could possibly have wanted to reveal. Here it is:
Now our pretend person discovering all this in 1964 finds this quite disturbing. The FBI has grossly misrepresented the location of Kennedy's fatal head shot to the Warren Commission, and the Commission's staff, in the person of Melvin Eisenberg, has let them know he is on to them. But heck, Eisenberg can't exactly come out and say, "Hey, you screwed-up!," now can he? So he claims instead that it's not a matter of questioning the FBI's measurements, etc, but that it's simply that the Zapruder and Nix films can't be reconciled, etc, and that he would really like it if the FBI spoke to Nix and double-checked his location when he was filming and the speed of his camera, etc.
Well, this, my friends, is politics. Eisenberg has the FBI in a corner but he knows he can't win if they decide to fight back, so he offers them an out: go talk to Nix, please, because then we can pretend the re-assessment we are about to perform on the location of Kennedy when he received his fatal head wound is because we've received new information, and not because the FBI is incompetent. Or worse.
In any event, Hoover smells what Eisenberg is up to and signs off on the FBI's talking to Nix with a classic Hoover bitch/whine: "O.K., but it looks to me as if they are playing games."
(Now here's a quick aside. The FBI memo above comes from the FBI's Warren Commission Liaison File, 62-109090, sec. 2, p. 251-252. The FBI also had a JFK HQ file, 62-109060. Well, this memo can also be found in the the JFK HQ file, 62-109060, Sec 44, p 67-68.
Now, here's the end of the second page. See if you notice anything different.
The hand-written message from Hoover has been re-written by someone else. Hmmm... If anyone knows what that's all about, and whose handwriting we're looking at, please let me know...)
On 1-29-64 (later that day) the FBI contacts Orville Nix and establishes the location from which he shot his film. This report notes that Nix was "about 20 feet west of Houston Street on the south side of Main Street" at the moment of the fatal head shot. This fact, which should have been obvious from viewing the film, proves the fatal shot occurred closer to the corner of Houston and Elm and thus closer to the first shot fired than most recently proposed by the FBI and Secret Service.
On 1-30-64, Lyndal Shaneyfelt takes some notes on the Zapruder film that establishes, finally, that the "Third Shot" impacted at frame 313. This obvious conclusion, along with the "new" information regarding the Nix film, assures us that the location of the limo at the time of the head shot will soon be re-appraised.
Also on 1-30-64, one of the Warren Commission counsel responsible for establishing Oswald’s guilt, David Belin, writes a memo regarding Oswald’s intent. He presents three possibilities: “Oswald was shooting at Connally and missed two of the three shots, the two misses striking Kennedy; Oswald was shooting at both Kennedy and Connally and all three shots struck their intended target; Oswald was shooting at Kennedy and the second bullet missed its intended target and hit Connally instead.” A bullet’s missing the limousine was not to be considered. Yet.
On 2-7-64, apparently at the bidding of the FBI, whose earlier depiction of the shots would have to be seen as an embarrassment, surveyor Robert West revises his 12-5-64 plat of Dealey Plaza, and adds a trajectory line corresponding to a bullet strike on Kennedy's position at Z-313. (West would later claim this was done on behalf of the FBI. If so, this means the FBI has finally acknowledged that Kennedy's location at the time of the head shot, which only 2 weeks prior they'd asserted was 307 feet from the sniper's nest, was really 40 feet closer.) Only adding to the mystery surrounding this plat (which West would eventually provide researcher Tom Purvis) is that the name and address on the plat are those of Secret Service Agent John Joe Howlett, who first used West's services during the Secret Service's 11-27-63 re-enactment in Dealey Plaza. (Documents in the possession of Purvis indicate that the plat used in the 11-27 re-enactment was actually commissioned by Time/Life, Inc., and created by West employees G.H. Breneman and Paul Hardin on 11-26-63.) It's hard to know what to make of this. Perhaps the revision of this plat and its shipment to Howlett indicates that, by 2-07-64, the FBI and Secret Service had finally reached some sort of agreement on the shot locations.
Ironically, this only causes more problems for the Warren Commission. As the distance between the second and third shots is now much too small for both shots to have been fired by Oswald, the Warren Commission is forced to either concede there was a second shooter, or re-interpret the location of Connally at the time of the second shot.
It is also ironic that, at this late date, weeks after the public has been reassured by the media that Oswald acted alone, new evidence is still rolling in. UPI, in collaboration with American Heritage Magazine, has put out a collector's book on the assassination and its aftermath entitled Four Days. It has been available to the public since mid-January. It features a number of stills depicting Kennedy and the grassy knoll behind him in the moments just before and after the fatal head shot. They are not from the Zapruder film. They are not from the Nix film. No, they are from a film unbeknownst to both the FBI and Warren Commission. Here is one of the images included in this collection.
This is brought to the FBI's attention. A quick investigation leads the FBI to Marie Muchmore. Although her film had been shown on TV within days of the shooting, and she'd sold her film to UPI on 11-25, just three days after the shooting, and UPI published frames from her film in, amongst other places, the San Francisco Chronicle, on 11-27, five days after the shooting, a 12-4 report by the FBI's Robert Bashman reflects that she'd told him she'd taken no photographs of the shooting. (Despite what would seem to have been either total incompetence on the part of Agent Bashman, or Ms. Muchmore's deliberate deception, no investigation is performed to determine who is responsible for the inaccurate report.)
Despite the fact Mrs. Muchmore was clearly looking through her viewfinder at the time of the shots, and was thus one of the best witnesses to the shooting, moreover, her interview on 2-14 by the FBI's Robert Barrett and Ivan Lee is of little value. Marie Muchmore (2-18-64 FBI report, CD 735 p.8) “Mrs. Muchmore stated that after the car turned on Elm Street from Houston Street, she heard a loud noise which at first she thought was a firecracker but then with the crowd of people running in all directions and hearing the two further noises, sounding like gunfire, she advised that she began to run to find a place to hide.” (As the FBI acquired a copy of her film, and thus came to know what Ms. Muchmore observed, it seems possible they'd decided not to push Ms. Muchmore for a more detailed description of her recollections. Still, as she was clearly looking at the grassy knoll at the moment of the fatal impact, and saw people in that vicinity react to the shooting, it seems possible she saw something suspicious after the shooting she was afraid to talk about. In any event, Mrs. Muchmore was never called before the Warren Commission, and never spoke on the subject again.)
We are now aware of four films and one photograph showing Kennedy's location on the street at the moment of the fatal impact. These five pieces of information corroborate each other, and reveal not just Kennedy's location, but the location of the five photographers at the moment of the fatal headshot.
The following over-view of Dealey Plaza marks the location of these photographers...with their initials. They are, from L to R, Abraham Zapruder, Mary Moorman, Orville Nix, Marie Muchmore, and Charles Bronson. The "X" marks the spot...where Kennedy was struck.
On 2-21-64, Rankin assistant Norman Redlich writes a memo explaining the basic duties of Melvin A. Eisenberg. It states “The areas in which Mr. Eisenberg are working are as follows…2. Working with me on the problem of studying the assassination films to locate car position when bullets hit President Kennedy and Governor Connally.” As this had previously been considered part of Area 1, the responsibility of Francis Adams and Arlen Specter, this reveals that a decision had been made not to trust them entirely on this point. Since Adams stopped showing up around this time, and as Adams reportedly told writer Edward Epstein that “he thought the FBI Summary and Supplemental Reports should have been verified immediately,” the possibility exists that Adams simply had no stomach for second-guessing Hoover, and opted out on what he knew would be a politically nasty experience.
Other writers and publications went to even greater lengths to drill into the public's brain the non-established fact that Oswald acted alone, and that no further investigation need be conducted. Victor Lasky, whose all-out attack on Kennedy, JFK: the Man and the Myth, was scheduled to hit the bookstores within days of the assassination, wrote one especially noteworthy column. In this column, published February 11, 1964, Lasky repeatedly quoted the prominent leftist Dwight MacDonald's statement that "Oswald is our baby, not theirs." As if MacDonald was in any position to know... Lasky then proceeded to criticize "certain know-it-alls who cannot bring themselves to believe that someone of the 'progressive' faith might have brutally murdered Kennedy on the streets of Dallas." He then noted that pro-Castro forces were arguing that Oswald had been set up by the right to appear to be a leftist, but insisted "Of course, this argument presupposes that the FBI and the Secret Service are involved in a monstrous plot to cover up for the real assassins." Of course, the suggestion that Oswald had been set up did no such thing and Lasky was merely pretending it did to create the illusion that questioning the accuracy and completeness of the FBI and Secret Service investigations (whose conclusions were supposedly still-secret) made one un-American. Lasky next mentioned that the Warren Commission has decided to investigate the activities of the Minutemen, "a so-called right wing group recently accused of having threatened the lives of 20 congressmen." He then exclaimed: "But the FBI Report on Oswald, now in the hands of the Warren Commission, in effect fully exonerates the so-called right wing from any involvement in the President's assassination." Lasky thereby created the illusion that investigating the Minutemen was both a waste of time and a personal insult to J. Edgar Hoover, and used material leaked by Hoover to do so.
Whether or not Lasky's column was a de facto message from Hoover or simply a warning from a prominent conservative to the Commission that they would arouse much ire if they expended any effort investigating a possible right-wing conspiracy, the Warren Commission appears to have received the message: no extensive investigation of the Minutemen or other right-wing organizations was ever conducted on their behalf. Ironically, while assuring his readers that Oswald acted alone, Lasky also revealed just how little he personally knew about the case. His column was entitled "Left Wing Claims Harvey Oswald's Ghost as Own..." Harvey was of course Oswald's middle name, not his first name and not part of his last name.
The next day, February 12, 1964, the cinema classic Seven Days in May was released to the public. The film, a cautionary tale directed by John Frankenheimer, depicted an attempted military coup within the United States. The film's creation was encouraged by President Kennedy, who'd told a number of his friends that he thought such a coup was a real possibility should the president lose the support of the Pentagon. The initial response to the film reflects that elements of the media and government, even months after the assassination, still believed that their primary responsibility was to assure a worried public that everything was OK. As reported in David Talbot's Brothers, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner publicly questioned whether the film should even have been made, as "The world is on too short a fuse," and the film could damage "the American image abroad." Across town, the Examiner's larger rival the L.A. Times shared this concern but instead took the time to assure its readers that nothing like this could happen in America. Meanwhile, congressmen called for the film to be clearly labeled fiction before it could be shown overseas.
The film certainly had an impact. A 2-14 memo from Secret Service Inspector Thomas Kelley to his boss James Rowley discussed proposed legislation making the investigation of a presidential assassination a federal offense, and the sole jurisdiction of the FBI. This, in Kelley's mind, would be a bad thing, and could lead to a "Seven Days in May situation" in which a "venal Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation could in the future bring about or allow the assassination of the President who he either felt was a poor President or a President unacceptable to him..." Kelley then proceeded to point out that the FBI has an appropriation for protection of the President, normally the responsibility of the Secret Service, "in case of an emergency" and that the Secret Service should similarly retain the capacity to investigate assassinations. (As Kelley had just conducted the Secret Service's investigation of the assassination, it can probably be assumed from this that he was not particularly impressed with the FBI's investigation, and that he had doubts about Director Hoover's determination to get to the bottom of the matter.)
Meanwhile, across the country, Americans picked up the February 15, 1964 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. Inside was an article by the CIA-friendly columnist Stewart Alsop, not surprisingly defending the CIA against some recent charges that it was out of control and was conducting its own foreign policy. No doubt concerned about the effect these charges might have on the public, particularly when combined with the almost simultaneous release of Seven Days in May in the theaters, Alsop tried to cut off any speculation of CIA involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy. He actually went further than that, and made out that anyone questioning their involvement was a communist dupe. He complained about the recent treatment of the CIA in general, and then reported "a few highly respectable journals have even half-echoed The Communist Worker's charge that Lee Harvey Oswald, murderer of President Kennedy, went to the Soviet Union in 1959 as a CIA hireling." Alsop then shared even more certain knowledge that he could not possibly know, assuring his readers: "Lee Harvey Oswald never at any time had any connection whatever with CIA, although suspicions on that score are perhaps natural in view of the mystery surrounding Oswald's travels and his sources of income. The highest officials in the CIA are ready to so testify--and indignantly--before the Warren Commission investigating the murder. 'If anybody in the CIA had hired so obvious a psychotic,' says one of the greatest experts in the intelligence business, 'he should have been fired on the spot.'"
One might rightly wonder if Alsop's "expert" wasn't Allen Dulles himself, seeking to cut off the questions he knew would not be answered by the Warren Commission. One might also wonder why the "highest officials in the CIA" would be so "indignant" about being asked such a reasonable question, by men who fully understood that they would lie with impunity.
Two days later, on February 17, 1964, possibly at the prodding of the same CIA employees who'd probably prodded Alsop (this might have been Allen Dulles-let's be realistic), and possibly at the prodding of President Lyndon Johnson, with whom he was quite friendly and from whom he was hoping to receive a slot as Vice-President, Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut made a long speech defending the CIA. Dodd repeatedly, and cynically, quoted President Kennedy in support of the CIA. He concluded "I think it can be stated as a certainty that many countries that remain free today would not be free if it had not been for the CIA." The CIA's possible involvement in killing Kennedy was not among the litany of criticisms dismissed by Senator Dodd. Apparently, such talk was not to be acknowledged within the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate.
Within a few days, in its February 21, 1964 issue, Life Magazine published yet another article on Oswald, and once again convicted him in the public eye. The cover featured a photo of Oswald holding a rifle, with a pistol on his hip. The caption read "Lee Oswald with the weapons he used to kill President Kennedy and Officer Tippit." The cover story was entitled "The Evolution of an Assassin." This echoed a 12-20 Life article written with the help of the FBI's report. That article had been entitled "The Assassin: a Cold, Lone Man Who Resented All Authority." Real subtle.
The media's investigation of Kennedy's assassination, if you could call it that, was by now pretty much over. They'd relied upon the FBI, and the FBI had misled them, for political purposes.
A 2-24-64 FBI memo from F.J. Baumgartner to Deputy Director William Sullivan supports this point. It reports that Oswald's mother, Marguerite Oswald, and Mark Lane, a lawyer trying to present a public defense of Oswald, spoke at a public meeting in New York, sponsored by The National Guardian, a left-wing newspaper. It reports that "At this meeting it was implied that Oswald was not responsible for the assassination and the handling of the investigation by the Government was criticized." It then notes that a "reliable source"--clearly an undercover operative attending the meeting--spotted Alger Hiss, a one-time member of the State Department, accused of being a communist spy, and convicted of perjury relating to his involvement in the communist party--in attendance. Baumgartner then proposed that this be leaked to the press in order to discredit Lane and--by extension--those daring to imply that Oswald's guilt remained open to question. He even wrote the article he proposed and suggested it "be placed with a cooperative news media source at the Seat of Government."
Although, as far as can be determined, this article never saw print, it seems clear that many sharing its bias, prevailed.
Oswald had been convicted as the sole assassin by President Lyndon B. Johnson, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the New York Times, Newsweek, T.V. Guide, and Life Magazine. The only witnesses called by the Commission up to this date had been members of his own family.
If there had been conspirators still at large, they were now specks off in the distance.