The Delivery Men
While Chief Justice Earl Warren, the chairman of the Warren Commission, and the man tasked with overseeing its investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, is reported to have told his staff that "the truth was their only client," much evidence has arisen over the years to indicate that this simply was not so. The available record, in fact, now suggests that the Commission had another client, one whose interests were to be placed above and beyond the Commission's search for truth. This client was called... "national security" or, more specifically, President Lyndon Johnson.
One need look no further than the memoirs of Warren, for that matter, to see that this is true. There, in the final pages written at the end of his long successful life, Warren admitted that he was strong-armed into chairing the Commission only after Johnson, Kennedy's successor, told him that if people came to believe there was foreign involvement in the assassination it could lead to a war that would kill 40 million. This, one can only assume, gave Warren the clear signal he was NOT to find for a conspiracy involving a foreign power.
But when one reads between the lines--and reads other lines--a fuller picture emerges. Warren was also told he was NOT to find for a domestic conspiracy, or at least anything that could point back to Johnson.
There were signs for this from the get-go. The Voice of America, the U.S. Information Agency's worldwide radio network, had initially reported, in the moments after the shooting, that Dallas, Texas, the scene of the crime, was also "the scene of the extreme right wing movement." It soon stopped doing so. This suggests then that someone in the government was particularly sensitive to the idea that the right wing would be blamed for the shooting, and had ordered the Voice of America to downplay the possibility of a domestic conspiracy.
Above: a decidedly cold part of the mostly warm reception greeting President Kennedy at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, 11-22-63.
This "sensitivity," moreover, was in the air and spreading. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, whose discussions in the days after the shooting sparked the creation of the Warren Commission, testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (the "HSCA") on 8-4-78 that he sensed that the rest of the world would suspect Johnson's involvement, and that this in effect "disqualified" Johnson from leading an investigation into Kennedy's death. Katzenbach then explained that this feeling had led him to believe that "some other people of enormous prestige and above political in-fighting, political objectives, ought to review the matter and take the responsibility" of identifying Kennedy's assassin.
He said much the same thing in subsequent testimony. On 9-21-78 he told the HSCA that his primary concern in the aftermath of the assassination was "the amount of speculation both here and abroad as to what was going on, whether there was a conspiracy of the left or a lone assassin or even in its wildest stages, a conspiracy by the then vice president to achieve the presidency, the sort of thing you have speculation about in some countries abroad where that kind of condition is normal."
Egads. These words suggest that Katzenbach, who was only running the Justice Department in the aftermath of the assassination, considered Johnson's involvement unthinkable, and not really worth investigating.
And this wasn't the last time Katzenbach suggested as much. In his 2008 memoir Some of It Was Fun, Katzenbach wrote that in the days after the assassination: "Among the many conspiracy theories floating around were those that put conservative Texas racists in the picture and even some that saw LBJ as the moving force."
That Katzenbach's concern about these theories influenced the Warren Commission's investigation, moreover, seems obvious. Howard Willens, a Justice Department attorney reporting to Katzenbach, was made an assistant to Warren Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin, and was tasked with 1) hiring the commission's junior counsel (the men tasked with performing the bulk of the commission's investigation), 2) assigning these men specific areas of investigation, 3) supplying these men with the FBI, Secret Service, and CIA reports pertinent to their areas of investigation, 4) working as a liaison between these men and the agencies creating these reports, and 5) helping to re-write the commission's own report. On 7-28-78, in Executive Session, Willens testified before the HSCA; he admitted: "there were some allegations involving President Johnson that were before the Commission and there was understandably among all persons associated with this effort a desire to investigate those allegations and satisfy the public, if possible, that these allegations were without merit."
But these allegations weren't investigated, not really. The Commission's final report amounted to a prosecutor's brief against a lone assassin named Lee Harvey Oswald, and the 26 volumes of supporting data published by the Commission contained next to nothing on Johnson or other possible suspects.
That this "clearing" of Johnson's name was a major factor in the commission's creation is confirmed, moreover, by a 2-17-64 memo written by Warren Commission Counsel Melvin A. Eisenberg. While reporting on the Warren Commission's first staff conference of 1-20-64, Eisenberg recalled that Chief Justice Warren had discussed "the circumstances under which he had accepted the chairmanship of the Commission," and had claimed he'd resisted pressure from Johnson until "The President stated that the rumors of the most exaggerated kind were circulating in this country and overseas. Some rumors went as far as attributing the assassination to a faction within the Government wishing to see the Presidency assumed by President Johnson. Others, if not quenched, could conceivably lead the country into a war which could cost 40 million lives."
Eisenberg's account of Warren's statements was supported, furthermore, by Warren Commission Counsel--and subsequent Senator--Arlen Specter in his 2000 memoir Passion for Truth. In Specter's account, Warren claimed that Johnson had told him "only he could lend the credibility the country and the world so desperately needed as the people tried to understand why their heroic young president had been slain. Conspiracy theories involving communists, the U.S.S.R., Cuba, the military-industrial complex, and even the new president were already swirling. The Kennedy assassination could lead America into a nuclear war that could kill 40 million people..."
Above: Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (L) and his new best-buddy, Premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khruschev (R). Cuba's embrace of Russia and Communism scared the bejeesus out of many Americans, and Lyndon Johnson used this fear to scare Chief Justice Warren into chairing the Commission that would thereafter bear his name.
Now this, apparently, wasn't the only time Warren admitted Johnson's worries extended both beyond and closer to home than the possible thermo-nuclear war mentioned in his autobiography. In his biography of Warren, Ed Cray reported that Warren once confided to a friend that "There was great pressure on us to prove, first, that President Johnson was not involved, and, second, that the Russians were not involved."
And yet Warren refused to put Johnson's fears he'd be implicated on the record. While Warren was interviewed a number of times in his final years about the creation of the Commission, he never admitted in these interviews what he'd readily told his friends and the commission's staff--that Johnson had railroaded him onto the commission in part to clear himself.
In fact, Warren claimed the opposite. When interviewed by Warren Commission historian Alfred Goldberg on March 28, 1974, Warren told Goldberg the opposite of what he'd told Eisenberg and Specter (and presumably Goldberg) in 1964. Instead of claiming Johnson told him "Some rumors went as far as attributing the assassination to a faction within the Government wishing to see the Presidency assumed by President Johnson," Warren now related "There were of course two theories of conspiracy. One was the theory about the communists. The other was that LBJ's friends did it as a coup d'etat. Johnson didn't talk about that."
It seems likely, then, that even Warren thought it improper for the President, the head of the Executive Branch of Government, to pressure the Chief Justice of the United States, the head of the Judicial Branch of Government, to head a Commission to help clear the President's name.
Above: a photograph showing the Warren/Johnson dynamic. Warren was older, receding, settled. Johnson, was younger, forward-leaning, and absolutely determined to have his way.
Now, it's not as if Warren's fellow commissioners had a problem with serving this higher purpose--that of clearing their new President. John McCloy, Wall Street's man on the Commission, told writer Edward Epstein on June 7, 1965 that one of the commission's objectives was "to show foreign governments we weren't a South American Banana Republic." Well, seeing as the expression "Banana Republic" is not a reference to countries whose leaders have been killed by foreign enemies, but to countries whose leaders have been killed by domestic enemies, who then assume power, this is most certainly a reference to Johnson.
And it's not as if this was all a big secret. The December 5, 1963, transcripts of the Warren Commission's first meeting reflect that Senator Richard Russell, Johnson's long-time friend and mentor, admitted "I told the President the other day, fifty years from today people will be saying he had something to do with it so he could be President."
And it's not as if Washington insiders were unaware of this non-secret secret. In 1966, columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak published Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power. There, they discussed the creation of the Warren Commission as follows: "There was first the question of the assassination itself. Inevitably, irresponsible demagogues of the left and right spread the notion that not one assassin but a conspiracy had killed John Kennedy. That it occurred in Johnson's own state on a political mission urgently requested and promoted by Johnson only embellished rancid conspiratorial theories. If he were to gain the confidence of the people, the ghost of Dallas must be shrugged off."
Now, should one still doubt that Johnson was at least as concerned with suspicions of himself as of the Soviets, there is confirmation from an even better source: Johnson himself. In a rarely-cited interview with columnist Drew Pearson, cited in a November 14th, 1993 article in The Washington Post, Johnson admitted that, in his conversation with Warren, in which he convinced Warren to head his commission, Johnson brought up the assassination of President Lincoln, and that rumors still lingered about the conspiracy behind his murder 100 years after the fact. According to Pearson, Johnson admitted telling Warren that "The nation cannot afford to have any doubt this time."
Well, that says it all. The doubt, according to Johnson, the nation could not afford to have, was doubt about Southern and/or military involvement in the assassination. The rumors about Lincoln's death, after all, revolved largely around his being murdered by The Confederate Army as revenge for his successful campaign to re-unite the States, or his being murdered by his own Secretary of War, or his being murdered by his Vice-President, a Southerner named JOHNSON.
And Johnson acknowledged this was his concern in his presidential memoir, The Vantage Point: Perspectives on the Presidency 1963-1969, published 1971. Of the national mood on 11-24-63, after the man accused of killing President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, a purported communist-sympathizer, was shot down while in police custody, by Jack Ruby, a man with connections to organized crime, Johnson wrote: "The atmosphere was poisonous and had to be cleared. I was aware of some of the implications that grew out of that skepticism and doubt. Russia was not immune to them. Neither was Cuba. Neither was the State of Texas. Neither was the new President of the United States."
The "Smoking Gun" Document
Now, should one have doubts so many men--not only those working for the commission, but those working for the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA--would agree to give Johnson a free pass (in the name of national security, etc) one should consider that some of these same men defended the conclusions of the Warren Commission for these very same reasons...and left a "smoking gun" document in the National Archives as proof of their activities.
Here is a link to this document: The Smoking Gun Document.
One might wish to take a quick look at it before returning to our discussion...
This document, released in 1993 as a result of the 1992 JFK Records Act, which was passed in the aftermath of Oliver Stone's movie JFK, was written on January 4, 1967, at a time when questions surrounding the assassination were beginning to be taken seriously, and appear in mainstream publications like Life Magazine, the New York Times, and The Saturday Evening Post. It is a CIA document, created but six months after former journalist Richard Helms was appointed its director.
Now, here is Helms with Johnson... on 6/30/66, the day of Helms' appointment. He seems pretty happy, yes? Well, this gushing behavior isn't exactly what one would expect from the serious and mysterious man who'd been the CIA's Deputy Director of Plans (that is, the head of its black ops department) on November 22, 1963. But maybe that's just me.
In any event, the document no doubt approved by Helms in 1967 proposes that the CIA chiefs around the world to whom it was directed "employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passage to assets. Our play should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (i) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (ii) politically interested, (iii) financially interested, (iv) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (v) infatuated with their own theories."
Now note that the document says "Destroy when no longer needed" across the bottom. We were never supposed to know about this. Note also that January 1967 marks the precise time the so-called mainstream media pulled back from its criticisms of the Warren Commission, and started focusing its criticism on the critics. CBS News, most pointedly, had started an investigation of the Warren Commission months before, but had changed its direction around this same time, after former Warren Commissioner John McCloy crawled onboard as a top secret adviser.
But note, primarily, the stated purpose of this propaganda push. It says nothing about the danger Americans might think a foreign power killed Kennedy. It says nothing about preventing World War III. Instead, it says, in so many words, that all this talk of conspiracy is starting to circle in on President Johnson and the CIA, and that that would be bad for business.
Here are the relevant paragraphs:
1. Our Concern. From the day of President Kennedy's assassination on, there has been speculation about the responsibility for his murder. Although this was stemmed for a time by the Warren Commission report (which appeared at the end of September 1964), various writers have now had time to scan the Commission's published report and documents for new pretexts for questioning, and there has been a new wave of books and articles criticizing the Commission's findings. In most cases the critics have speculated as to the existence of some kind of conspiracy, and often they have implied that the Commission itself was involved. Presumably as a result of the increasing challenge to the Warren Commission's Report, a public opinion poll recently indicated that 46% of the American public did not think that Oswald acted alone, while more than half of those polled thought that the Commission had left some questions unresolved. Doubtless polls abroad would show similar, or possibly more adverse, results.
2. This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization. The members of the Warren Commission were naturally chosen for their integrity, experience, and prominence. They represented both major parties, and they and their staff were deliberately drawn from all sections of the country. Just because of the standing of the Commissioners, efforts to impugn their rectitude and wisdom tend to cast doubt on the whole leadership of American society. Moreover, there seems to be an increasing tendency to hint that President Johnson himself, as the one person who might be said to have benefited, was in some way responsible for the assassination. Innuendo of such seriousness affects not only the individual concerned, but also the whole reputation of the American government. Our organization itself is directly involved: among other facts, we contributed information to the investigation. Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us. The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries. Background information is supplied in a classified section and in a number of unclassified attachments.
Now note that, according to this last paragraph, this trend towards accusing Johnson was, in the eyes of the writer of this dispatch (undoubtedly one of the CIA's top officials), "a matter of concern to the U.S. government," including the CIA. Well, this more than suggests that this order to "employ" the CIA's propaganda assets to help clear Johnson's name did not originate within the CIA itself... but from elsewhere in the executive branch.
Almost certainly Johnson himself... In October 2007, the Johnson Presidential Library released a batch of previously withheld recordings of President Johnson's phone calls while President. Most interesting of these was a January 11, 1967 phone call between Johnson and his most trusted adviser, Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas. This call built upon similar calls with Fortas on October 1 and October 6, 1966. It was made, moreover, just one week after the "smoking gun" document was written. Well, in this call, surprise surprise, Johnson drops his guard completely, and tells Fortas that he believes Senator Robert Kennedy--his predecessor's brother--and Robert Kennedy's supporters--are behind the recent spurt of books and articles on the assassination. He claims, moreover, that: "They've started all this stuff...they've created all this doubt...And if we'd had anybody less than the attorney general--ah, the chief justice--I would've already been indicted."
Above: John F. Kennedy (L) and his younger brother Robert (R). While Earl Warren and others claimed the Warren Commission was created as a response to Lyndon Johnson's concern about Russia and Cuba, Johnson himself would later admit the relationship he was thinking about when he created the commission was the relationship between these brothers.
Now, should one think Johnson exaggerating here, and stating something he didn't really believe, one should consider that he said similar things to others--even after RFK was dead and buried. As reported by Robert Caro, in his 2012 epic The Passage of Power, Johnson dropped his mask once more during the August 19, 1969 recording of an oral history for the Johnson Library. He declared: "I shudder to think what churches I would have burned and what little babies I would have eaten if I hadn't appointed the Warren Commission." He also offered a slightly different and no doubt more honest version of how he got Warren to chair his commission. Leaving off the bit about the Russians launching nukes should they think we blamed them for killing Kennedy, he admitted he'd actually pressured Warren through a call for domestic tranquility. He said he told Warren: "When this country is threatened with division, and the President of the United States says you are the only man who can save it, you won't say no, will you?" And that Warren responded, "No, sir!"
So there you have it, straight from the horse's--ah, President's--mouth. Johnson felt that his having left-wing icon Earl Warren chair the commission investigating President Kennedy's murder not only stopped Kennedy's brother Robert Kennedy from having him (Johnson) investigated as a suspect, but stopped him (Johnson) from actually being indicted for Kennedy's murder.
Blame it on the Bobby
Above: from L to R (literally, L to R), Lyndon Johnson (LBJ), and Robert Kennedy (RFK). In 1960, Robert Kennedy--his brother John's campaign manager--tried to prevent Johnson--who'd spread rumors within the Democratic Party that John F. Kennedy was seriously ill and wouldn't survive his first term in office-- from serving as his brother's Vice-President. And Johnson never forgave him for it... Now, here they are in 1964, after John F. Kennedy has been murdered, trying to figure out what to do with each other. LBJ considers Bobby a self-righteous little shit, and RFK considers Johnson a vulgar monster. But they need each other. LBJ needs to coddle RFK and keep the support of the "Kennedy wing" of his party. And RFK needs LBJ to stay the course and fulfill his brother's vision on civil rights--which he sees as his brother's--not Johnson's--legacy. Their Cold War re-ignites in '67, over both Johnson's fear RFK is spreading rumors about his behavior in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination, and his resentment RFK has taken to criticizing his approach to the Vietnam War. No rapprochement was possible, for that matter, as RFK was murdered within a year of his split from Johnson, and within months of his announcing he intended to replace Johnson as President...
Now...let's go back to the "smoking gun" document... Note that one of the arguments the CIA planned on using to assure the world Johnson was above reproach was that a "Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States, esp. since informants could expect to receive large royalties, etc. Note that Robert Kennedy, Attorney General at the time and John F. Kennedy's brother, would be the last man to overlook or conceal any conspiracy."
Well, this was grossly unfair. Robert Kennedy did not participate in the investigation of his brother's murder. He never even read the report of Earl Warren's commission.
This argument was also familiar. On November 4 1966, just when critics of the Warren Commission started gaining traction, President Johnson made a similar argument at a press conference. He offered: "The late, beloved President's brother was Attorney General during the period the Warren Commission was studying this thing. I certainly would think he would have a very thorough interest in seeing that the truth was made evident." (Note that this was well after Johnson first started musing that the "beloved President's brother," Robert Kennedy, was behind all these critics...)
The lie RFK cleared LBJ was then repeated by those closest to Johnson. A January 1968 letter to the New York Times by John Roche (subsequently quoted in its January 5 edition), offered: "Any fair analysis of Sen. Robert Kennedy's abilities, his character and of the resources at his disposal as Attorney General would indicate that if there were a conspiracy, he would have pursued its protagonists to the ends of the earth." Now, Roche was a "Special Consultant" to Johnson, his so-called "intellectual in residence." Roche had written Johnson a memo on 11-23-66 urging Johnson to make countering the critics of the Warren Commission a "top priority" of his administration. Well, this argument "Bobby would have caught the bad guys" was clearly part of Johnson's, and thereafter Roche's, playbook. Was it just a coincidence, then, that it soon became part of the CIA's?
It should come as no surprise, moreover, that this sticky substance stuck to Johnson for the remainder of his days. In 1971, Johnson published The Vantage Point, his presidential memoir. On page 25, he relates: "One of the most urgent tasks facing me after I assumed office was to assure the country that everything possible was being done to uncover the truth surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. John Kennedy had been murdered, and a troubled, puzzled, and outraged nation wanted to know the facts. Led by the Attorney General who wanted no stone unturned, the FBI was working on the case 24 hours a day and Director J. Edgar Hoover was in constant communication with me."
Well, this was bullshit of a presidential magnitude. Serious crap. Johnson knew full well that Robert Kennedy barely followed the FBI's investigation, and most certainly never "led" it. Kennedy even put this on the record, signing a statement to the Warren Commission declaring ""As you know, I am personally not aware of the detailed results of the extensive investigation in this matter which has been conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." What's worse, Kennedy's statement was an understatement...a gross understatement. The June 4, 1964 memo of Warren Commission counsel Howard Willens, in which Kennedy's signing such a statement was proposed, admits "The proposed response by the Attorney General has, of course, not been approved by him, or on his behalf by the Deputy Attorney General. It represents a revision of an earlier letter which I did show to them during my conference with them earlier today. At that time the Attorney General informed me that he had not received any reports from the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the investigation of the assassination."
And it's not as if Robert Kennedy later studied these materials... Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, in a 10-8-69 oral history performed for the Kennedy Library, admitted that Robert Kennedy"didn't approve" of the Warren Commission and never read its report. He said further that "I like to think that deep down he understood that it had to be done" and that, whatever his feelings on the matter, "he understood that he had to endorse it..." Katzenbach then added: "but he wouldn't read it."
So...gulp...President Johnson was not only so paranoid he thought Robert Kennedy was behind the rumors he'd killed President Kennedy, and so concerned about these rumors he thought that only his appointing Chief Justice Earl Warren to chair the commission investigating President Kennedy's murder had saved him from an indictment for murder (and a reputation as one of the world's most evil men), but so ruthless he was willing to use Robert Kennedy's deep remorse over his brother's murder, and resultant failure to promptly investigate his brother's murder, to suggest what he (Johnson) undoubtedly KNEW was untrue--that Robert Kennedy, President Kennedy's brother, ("Bobby"), had led the FBI's investigation into President Kennedy's murder, and cleared Johnson of all wrong-doing.
Well...would an innocent man behave in such a manner?
Perhaps. But Johnson's creation of a commission in part to clear himself is only part of the story. If one is even remotely prone to suspicion, it is also intriguing that Johnson initially hoped to avoid an independent commission altogether, and instead pressured the FBI and a Texas Court of Inquiry to investigate the crime, and, presumably, clear his name. In a 12-23-68 interview conducted on behalf of the Johnson Library, Leon Jaworski, Special Counsel to the State of Texas during its inquiry, explained the circumstances of its creation: "Here and in Europe were all kinds of speculations, you know, that this was an effort to get rid of Kennedy and put Johnson in, and a lot of other things. So he immediately called on Waggoner Carr, who was Attorney General of Texas, to go ahead and conduct a Court of Inquiry in Texas."
That Johnson would call on Texans with right-wing political affiliations to investigate a crime many suspected was committed by Texans with right-wing political affiliations was not lost on Jaworski, who clearly saw the need for something with a more national flavor. In his 1979 memoir Confession and Avoidance, Jaworski, who met with Johnson in Washington a few days after the assassination, describes the circumstances of their meeting as follows: "a problem had developed. The city was seething with rumors and accusations surrounding John Kennedy's death. Some sources in Europe had jumped on the story that Johnson himself had disposed of Kennedy in order to ascend to the presidency. Any investigation that was localized in Texas would be, to put it gently, under suspicion."
From Jaworski's words we can see that Johnson was desperate to deflect any speculation about his own involvement in the assassination, and that he created the Warren Commission in large part because it had become clear that an investigation by Texas officials and the FBI would fail to be convincing to those most needing to be convinced. But, in hindsight, this should always have been obvious. While Warren was purportedly asked to chair the Commission because as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court he had unparalleled credibility with the American public, the truth is that Warren was probably the last person Johnson would want to deliver the message that Russians were not involved in the assassination, as those likely to believe communist involvement would not believe anything Warren had to say, and considered him pretty much a communist himself. It seems clear then that Johnson drafted Warren onto the commission chiefly to convince those who trusted Warren--the liberals and intellectuals throughout the world who loved Kennedy and were most suspicious of Johnson--that there was no right-wing conspiracy behind the killing. It should be noted, furthermore, that Warren had helped push Johnson into this by publicly eulogizing Kennedy within hours of the assassination as having "suffered martyrdom as a result of the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots." Johnson, who counted among his biggest supporters many of these very same bigots, could not have been pleased.
And so the Warren Commission was born. The participation of the famously liberal Warren appeared to offset the otherwise inexplicable participation of Kennedy's biggest opponent on civil rights, Senator Richard Russell, and a man Kennedy had fired, former CIA director Allen Dulles. The political make-up of the commission--five Republicans and two conservative Democrats--moreover, assured that no one would follow any suspected right-wing conspiracies beyond where Johnson would want them to go.
Now this is not to say that the Warren Commissioners consciously concealed the truth. It seems clear, however, that such a commission, created under such circumstances, and comprising such men, would be unlikely to disagree with the FBI's conclusion that there had been no conspiracy, and would most certainly never push upon the public that perhaps just perhaps their current president was behind the murder of their former president.
In his book Real Answers, Gary Cornwell, an assistant counsel to the HSCA (the late '70's congressional committee that reviewed the work of the commission) asserted that in order to find a conspiracy you have to at first suspect a conspiracy, and act a little paranoid. The Warren Commission, not surprisingly, refused to act paranoid, even a little. They were, in fact, barely interested in their work. Its members attended less than half its hearings and participated in the questioning of only a small percentage of its witnesses. They relied almost exclusively on inexperienced junior counsel and the FBI, even though they acknowledged in private they didn't trust the FBI.
And there is reason to believe this was all according to plan... A 1991 article by Senator and longtime Washington insider Daniel Patrick Moynihan asserted that the Warren Commission "was Lyndon Johnson at his worst; manipulative, cynical. Setting a chief justice of no great intellect to do a job that a corrupt FBI was well content should not be done well."
This was not just an old pol letting off steam. Moynihan's comments are justified by the official record.
This record, furthermore, reflects that Johnson was not alone in his desire to put the past behind him and reassure the public that their president was not a murderer.
From the boardrooms to the newsrooms, he found plenty of support.