What do Dick Gregory, Lyndon B. Johnson and Víctor Marchetti all have in common?
All three have expressed doubts about the accuracy of the Warren Commission report. Seventy percent of the American public agree according to a Harris poll. The Commission reached the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, fired three shots killing John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
Ten years after the assassination in Dallas, pressure is mounting for reopening the investigation which branded Oswald a lone assassin.
"Oswald is one of the most hated figures in American history," says former Central Intelligence Agency employee George O'Toole in his new book, The Assassination Tapes (Penthouse Press). "While critics of the Warren Commission find receptive and sympathetic audiences to hear their arguments, one proclaims Oswald innocent at his own peril."
O'Toole's book is just one of the current pieces of evidence which has aroused speculation on the accuracy of the Warren report. Using a Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE), a sort of Me detector which probes the spoken word, O'Toole analyzed tapes of a press conference following Oswald's arrest in Dallas ten years ago. Based on PSE evaluations, Lee Harvey Oswald was telling the truth when he stated to reporters, "I didn't shoot anybody, no sir."
O'Toole work checked by two other experts who validified his findings. The PSE shows Oswald was innocent.
All three were amazed. "The charge that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy has gained widespread acceptance, even in the face of widespread doubts about the Warren report," writes O'Toole. "Ten years after the event, even most skeptics doubted only that 'Oswald acted alone.'"
Some of the "skeptics" have never doubted Oswald's innocence. Mark Lane s probably the best known of the assassination researchers challenging the Commission conclusions.
A prominent lawyer, Mark Lane proposed to the Commission that he represent Oswald during the hearings. Hired by Oswald's mother, Lane hoped to cross examine witnesses to assure the accused got a trial [since Oswald would never be given a formal trial, due to his murder by Jack Ruby] . The seven member presidential commission under the guidance of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Earl Warren, refused Lane's request. When Lane's protests seemed to be stirring some controversy over the Commission's methods, they did consent to give Lane a chance to testify. This permitted his evidence to become part of the official record, although it seemed to have little other influence on the Commission.
"There's one conclusion the Warren Commission reached which is an accurate conclusion," Mark Lane recently told an Ann Arbor audience at Hill Auditorium. "That was that Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. You may recall this took place on national television, and would have been hard even for the Commission to deny."
The Warren Commission published twenty-six volumes of testimony, as well as their 888 page report which found Oswald guilty of firing the murder weapon. In addition to all the published material, much information, including secret government files and every piece of scrap paper from the Commission is filed in the National Archives, most of it is where the public cannot see it.
But for all the published "evidence," Lane makes a case that the report was a coverup, particularly since so much material is secret and unpublished.
"An example of what the Commission did choose to publish is the dental chart showing the condition in 1938 of Jack Ruby's mother's teeth," Lane told the chuckling audience. "I suggest that would not have been relevant even if the Commission concluded Ruby had bitten Oswald to death."
"Unfortunately, the Commission decided to suppress a lot of the basic evidence," Lane continued. "I said in 1964 that in my opinion, six of the members of the Commission were accessories after the fact of the murder of John F. Kennedy because they heard enough of the evidence to understand what took place. They suppressed basic evidence and that's what an accessory after the fact is."
"I said at the time that there was one member of the Commission who seemed so completely confused by the evidence that I could think of a defense for him. He was a congressman from Michigan named Gerald Ford."
"I quoted a man named Hubert Hamburg, the World's Olympic rifle champion," recounts Lane of his testimony before the Warren Commission. "I said this man said the weapon the Commission claimed Oswald used was not capable of that kind of performance." [Oswald fired three shots in 5.6 seconds hitting the President twice according to official report.]
"And Ford looked up and said, 'Hamburg? Is that man a foreigner?'
"That was the only question he asked me in the two days I testified before the Commission. He was right on the target. I had to admit the man was born in Austria, and that wiped out that point."
Gerald Ford was so impressed by the findings of the Warren Commission that in 1965 he wrote a book, Portrait of the Assassin. He describes the book as a non-fiction novel revealing the outer and inner lives of Lee Harvey Oswald.
"I wish they would try one of those Psychological Stress Evaluators- the lie thing where you listen to their voice- on him," said Florynce Kennedy, lawyer and radical feminist, to an Ann Arbor audience. "You get smilin' whitey sayin' "I was a member of the Warren Commission and we were very careful...'"
Flo Kennedy was extremely critical of the Warren Commission and government lying.
"That death became quite a pile of shit," she told a predominately female audience at Rackham Assembly Hall. "It isn't something you could just brush over like say Fred Hampton's or Mark Clark's deaths" [both murdered Black Panthers].
But under the Freedom of Information Act, some of that information has gradually been released from the Archives as researchers have sued the government for it.
Last month, Harold Weisberg obtained results from chemical tests made by the F.B.I. in 1964 which show all bullets recovered from Dealey Plaza could not have come from one rifle.
According to the Warren report, one of the three shots attributed to Oswald went astray, hitting a curb in the front of the presidential limousine. Results of the test indicate the FBI experts were unable to find any copper on the curb which was struck. Since all of Oswald's alleged bullets were copper jacketed, at least one bullet doesn't match the shells found in the Texas School Book Depository Building.
Deputy Sheriff Ed "Buddy" Walthers also found evidence of a bullet different from those which came from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle attributed to Oswald. He discovered a bullet he identified as a .45 caliber slug across from where Kennedy was shot. Before he could pick it up, an unknown man approached him and the city police near him, saying "get the fuck out of here." That was the last heard of the bullet which was the wrong caliber for the Italian rifle.
According to the Dallas Iconoclast, the bullet was found across from a manhole where one witness had reported seeing smoke following the shooting on November 22, 1963. Walthers, like so many witnesses whose evidence contradicts official findings, died under somewhat mysterious circumstances in I969. Sent to apprehend an escaped convict, he was somehow shot in the back after opening a door to the convict's motel room in a Serpico- like shootout.
George O'Toole also adds to the legends about the Dallas law enforcement officials and their investigation of the assassination. In The Assassination Tapes, a number of Texan cops tell stories about events surrounding the assassination which disagree with their official testimony before the Commission, and even disagree with each other. Using PSE analysis, O'Toole found that none of them are telling the truth. For example, when Oswald was arrested the police claimed he was carrying identification in his own name plus that of Alex Hidell. This did not appear in the official reports they filed, but did come up during the testimony before the Commission.
The significance revolves around the fact that the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was ordered from a mail order house in Chicago by Alex Hidell. The supposed phony ID linked Oswald to the gun.
Were there other rifles fired in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963?
One frame in the Zapruder film (the eighteen second home movie shot by Abraham Zapruder which shows Kennedy being struck) seems to show a rifleman hidden in a clump of bushes.
The film, purchased by Time-Life immediately following the assassination, had not been seen publicly until recently when "underground" copies became available to researchers. The film has been shown several times in the past few weeks on television, including on ABC's national late night show Goodnight, America, and the local Lou Gordon Show. The most striking scène in the film shows Kennedy's head being blown up and thrown violently backward, seeming to indicate that not all the bullets came from behind as the Warren report claims.
On the Lou Gordon Show, one Commission critic claimed two other pictures taken in Dealey Plaza that day also show the same shadow figure with a rifle. But Mr. Jenner, one of the senior lawyers working on the Warren Commission, argued with the researcher that no such image showed in the original.
According to Jenner, the Commission examined the film "under a microscope" and found no evidence of another assassin. Jenner defended the Commission report and accused the researchers of being "sensationalists.... who have no responsibility to the American people." He claimed the public wanted to believe the report, but were being misled.
The Zapruder film is now being processed at Cornell University under a process known as image enhancement. Using a computer, the technique can bring pictures and shadow images into fulIer focus. Cornell is supposedly concentrating on the frame showing the assassin in the bushes.
Defenders of the Warren Commission report are finally attempting to answer charges by critics. But recent reports showing that former President Lyndon Johnson doubted the results have further eroded public confidence.
Washington columnist Marianne Means revealed last month that Johnson had confided to Joseph Califano, his chief of staff, that Johnson doubted Oswald had acted alone. He suggested Oswald may have been acting under orders from Fidel Castro in retaliation for CIA plots to assassinate the Cuban premiere.
The story is backed by a CBS video clip of an interview done shortly before Johnson's death. In an interview with Walter Cronkite, Johnson admitted he never quite accepted the finding that Oswald acted alone. He did not "completely discount" international connections.
"There's not any hard evidence that Oswald was directed by a foreign government ..but was quite a mysterious person," Johnson stated.
The clip, part of a longer interview, had never been released before as Johnson had asked for its deletion based on "national security."
"There is no evidence for that theory," said one assassination researcher. "In fact, the evidence shows it's more likely our own CIA was involved in the Kennedy assassination."
The Johnson interview gives credence to the possibility that the Warren Commission was convinced, perhaps by the CIA, not to delve too deeply into the Kennedy assassination. "National security" was at stake, and a coverup was necessary. But rather than reveal what Johnson feared, a thorough investigation would have exposed CIA and FBI operations years before Watergate or the "new left".
"If Earl Warren was convinced that Oswald's act could start World War III, he probably would have agreed to a coverup," suggested the researcher.
With so many recent revelations of governmental coverups, whitewashes and direct lies, many AmerBgf icans now accept the idea that the Warren report should be reopened to reveal the whole truth. Too much evidence indicates the Warren Commission did not follow up all the leads.
A bill introduced into the House of Representatives sponsored by eleven representatives, is calling for a new investigation. The bill proposes a joint House-Senate committee structured like the Senate Watergate committee to run a public investigation.
Individuals can pressure Congress to reopen the investigation by writing to their representatives. A public investigation will resolve the unanswered questions, and most likely continue the exposé of the CIA and FBI.
If you want to find out more about the assassination and the Warren Commission coverup, some books like Mark Lane's are still available in libraries. The University of Michigan has the Warren report stored in the Rare Book Room, but it can be read with the help of a student ID card.
The Assassination Tapes, just published last month, is exciting reading and an interesting introduction to the subject. Definitely bound for the best seller lists, it is available for $8.95 at Briarwood (none of the campus stores had it at press time).
The SUN will continue to run articles, and call for a reopening of the assassination investigation, not only of the J.F.K. killing, but all the killings and attempted murders from Malcolm X to Robert Kennedy which have altered the political process in this country. This article is the third on the killing in Dallas. If you missed the first two, (Nov. 22 and Dec. 6, 1974), we still have copies available. Send 50 cents per copy to our office, and we will send them to you.
"Six of the members of the Warren Commission were accessories after the fact of the murder of John F. Kennedy because they heard enough of the evidence to understand what took place." -Mark Lane
"If Earl Warren was convinced, perhaps by the CIA, that Oswald's act could have started World War III, he probably would have agreed to a coverup." -an informed source
The Warren Commission's "superbullet"
continued from page 15
John Conally himself claims he was not hit until after the first shot hit Kennedy, thus indicating this theory could not be ture. In addition, the bullet the Commission claimed accomplished this feat is in near perfect condition. A shot fired into the wrist of a cadaver as an experiment was flattened in half.
Silencing the witnesses. In the past decade, more than forty people connected with the assassination have died strangely. Eighteen material witnesses died even sooner after the event- 5 of natural causes, and 13 were the victims of accident, suicide or murder, including one man who fell through a plate glass window. Of the fifteen material witnesses dead by 1967, an actuary determined the odds against those people being dead were 100 quadrillion to one. If Oswald acted alone, why the mysterious deaths?
Jack Ruby, Oswald's murderer told Earl Warren he wanted to talk, but couldn't while he was held in a Texas prison because he feared for his life. Ruby also told a psychiatrist before his death that he was part of a conspiracy, but the psychiatrist decided on this one matter alone, Ruby was insane.
Crucial evidence, including the brain of John Kennedy which was supposed to be in the National Archives, has completely disappeared.
Recently, retired Air Force Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, who revealed he had helped arrange air transport for a CIA assassination team to kill Castro, studied the Commission's case that there was no conspiracy in the JFK killing. "Scientifically, [their theory] just can't work," he said. "To carry out what was carried out in Dallas would have required more than one individual operating by himself."
And finally, the Commission itself. In 1975, a Commission so constituted would be considered less than trustworthy, knowing of past governmental coverups. On the Warren Commission were a former CIA director. Allen Dulles; head of the hawkish Senate Armed Services subcommittee, Richard Russell; former head of the Office of Strategic Services (the WWI forerunner of the CIA) John J. McCloy, and of course, Gerald R. Ford.