In the summer of 1967 CBS produced a series television programmes about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The series, entitled, CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report, involved Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, and involved interviews with people such as Harold Norman, Carolyn Walther, S. M. Holland, Abraham Zapruder, John Connally, Malcolm Perry, Domingo Benavides, Jim Garrison, Mark Lane, William Turner, Edward Jay Epstein, and John J. McCloy.
The CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report concluded that The Warren Commission report was a fairly accurate account of the assassination. Dan Rather reported that "I'm contented with the basic finding of the Warren Commission, that the evidence is overwhelming that Oswald fired at the President, and that Oswald probably killed President Kennedy alone." Walter Cronkite added "concerning the events of November 22nd, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, the report of the Warren Commission is probably as close as we can ever come now to the truth."
The basic story pieced together by that Warren Commission Report on the assassination is this: A man named Lee Harvey Oswald crouched here in this dingy window of the Texas School Book Depository as the President passed below. Oswald, the Commission tells us, fired three shots. One missed. One struck both the President and Texas Governor John Connally, riding with him. The third killed the President. Oswald, the Report had it, hid his rifle over there, then ran down the stairs, left the building on foot, and hurried down Elm Street. He made his way to his rented room, picked up a revolver, and about twelve minutes later shot Police Officer J. D. Tippit.
That particular morning three or four of us were standing by the window, and Oswald came over, and he said, "What's
everybody looking at, and what's everybody excited about?" So I told him we was waiting on the President. So he just snudged up and walked away.
I think I got out on the street about 12:15 or 12:20 - something along there. And we were looking around, back and forth. People were talking and laughing, and in a very good mood. And I looked at this building (Texas Book Depository) and saw a man with a gun, and there was another man standing to his right. I could not see all of this man, and I couldn't see his face.
The other man was holding a short gun. It wasn't as long as a rifle. He was holding it pointed down, and he was kneeling in the window, or sitting. His arms were on the window. He was holding the gun in a downward position, and he was looking downward. ...
Just as I was looking at this man the people started shouting "Here he comes, here he comes." So I looked the other way and forgot about the man.
The President passed us, and he was smiling, and everybody was waving. Then the last of the cars went by, and I heard the shot. I thought it was a firecracker. Then I started back to work, and it was along the curb, and then two shots right together, and then another one. I'm sure there were four shots.
And then I said "It's gunshots." And people started screaming. I told them that I saw the man had light hair, or brown, and was wearing a white shirt. I explained to the FBI agents that I wasn't sure about that. That was my impression on thinking about it later. That I thought that was the way the man was dressed. This other man was wearing a brown suit. That was all I could see, half of this man's body from his shoulders to his hips. He was facing the window. Evidently he was looking out. But his face was in the upper part, where the glass was dirty, and I couldn't see his face....
The first statement that I made, I said the man was on the fourth or fifth floor, and I still feel the same way.
It seemed evident that we should try to establish the ease or difficulty of that rapid-fire performance. Hence, our next question: How fast could that rifle be fired? Oswald's rifle was test-fired for the Warren Commission by FBI and military marksmen. The rate of fire for this bolt-action rifle and its accuracy against a moving target were critical to the Commission's case against Oswald. And yet, incredibly, all tests for the Commission were fired at stationary targets. The FBI won't comment on why.
Based more on testimony than on firing tests, the Commission concluded it was an easy shot for Oswald to hit the President at that range. From its tests the main conclusion drawn was that this Mannlicher-Carcano could not be fired three times in a span of less than 4.6 seconds, because it took about 2.3 seconds to operate the bolt mechanism between shots...
Did Oswald own a rifle? He did.
Did Oswald take a rifle to the Book Depository building? He did.
Where was Oswald when the shots were fired? In the building, on the sixth floor.
Was Oswald's rifle fired from the building? It was.
How many shots were fired? Three.
How fast could Oswald's rifle be fired? Fast enough.
What was the time span of the shots? Seven or eight seconds.
Did Lee Harvey Oswald shoot President Kennedy? CBS News concludes that he did.
Then I think, about that time, well, Jarman says, somebody's shooting at the President. And I told Jarman, I said, I said, I know it is because I could hear - they are above me, and I could hear the shots and everything, and I could even hear the empty cartridges hitting the floor. I mean, after the shots had been fired.
And so, after the shots were fired, well, all the officers and everyone else seemed to think they came from by the track over by the underpass, because that's where everyone ran, over that-a-way. But, I-just like I said, I've been hunting enough to know the sound of a rifle from-from a backfire or a firecracker or anything like - especially that close to me.
Just about the time that the parade turned on Elm Street, about where that truck is - that bus is now, there was a shot came from up-the upper end of the street. I couldn't say then, at that time, that it came from the Book Depository book
store. But I knew that it came from the other end of the street, and the President slumped over forward like that and tried to raise his hand up. And Governor Connally, sitting in front of him on the right side of the car, tried to turn to his right and he was sitting so close to the door that he couldn't make it that-a-way, and he turned back like that with his arm out to the left. And about that time, the second shot was fired and it knocked him over forward and he slumped to the right, and I guess his wife pulled him over in her lap because he fell over in her lap.
And about that time, there was a third report that wasn't nearly as loud as the two previous reports. It came from that picket fence, and then there was a fourth report. The third and the fourth reports was almost simultaneously. But, the third report wasn't nearly as loud as the two previous reports or the fourth report. And I glanced over underneath that green tree and you see a - a little puff of smoke. It looked like a puff of steam or cigarette smoke. And the smoke was about - oh, eight or ten feet off the ground, and about fifteen feet this side of that tree.
Eddie Barker: Abraham Zapruder, whose film of the assassination was studied at length on last night's program, was standing up on this little wall right at the edge of the grassy knoll. Now, shots from behind that picket fence over there would have almost had to whistle by his ear. Mr. Zapruder, when we interviewed him here, tended to agree that the knoll was not involved.
Abraham Zapruder: I'm not a ballistics expert, but I believe that if there were shots that come from my right ear, I would hear a different sound. I heard shots coming from - I wouldn't know which direction to say-but they was driven from the Texas Book Depository and they all sounded alike. There was no difference in sound at all.
All of the shots came from the same place, from back over my right shoulder. They weren't in front of us, or they weren't at the side of us. There were no sounds like that emanating from those directions.
Dan Rather: From a physicist's point of view, from a photographic analysis point of view, what can you tell about the direction of the bullet?
Charles Wyckoff: Well, the - in frame 313, the - there was an apparent explosion at this point, which would be on the front side of-of-the head. Now, characteristically, this would indicate to me that the bullet came from behind, and this is what's called spalling. It's a minor explosion where pieces of material have - have left and go generally in the direction of the bullet.
Dan Rather: But now, the explosion, this minor explosion, occurs forward of the President. Now, wouldn't that indicate the bullet coming from the front?
Charles Wyckoff: No, quite contrary. It does indicate that the bullet was coming from behind.
Dan Rather: Well, you're aware that some critics say that by the very fact that in the picture you can clearly see the explosion of the bullet on the front side of the President, that that certainly indicates the bullet came from the front.
Charles Wyckoff: Well, I don't believe any physicist has ever said that. This picture might explain the principle that we've been talking about just a little bit more clearly. It's a picture taken in a millionth of a second, of a thirty calibre bullet being shot through an electric light-bulb The bullet was traveling from this direction, entered the light-bulb here, passed through and caused a rather violent explosion to occur on the exiting side, and it's very similar to the situation in the Zapruder Kennedy assassination films.
Malcolm Perry: I noted a wound when I came into the room, which was of the right posterior portion of the head. Of course, I did not examine it. Again, there was no time for cursory examination. And if a patent airway cannot be secured, and the bleeding cannot be controlled - it really made very little difference. Some things must take precedence and priority, and in this instance the airway and the bleeding must be controlled initially.
Eddie Barker: What about this wound that you observed in the - in the front of the President's neck? Would you tell me about that?
Malcolm Perry: Yes, of course. It was a very cursory examination. The emergency proceedings at hand necessitated immediate action. There was not time to do more than an extremely light examination.
Eddie Barker: There's been a lot said and written about was this an exit wound or an entry wound? Would you discuss that with me, sir?
Malcolm Perry: Well, this is a difficult problem. The determination of entrance or exit frequently requires the ascertation of trajectory. And, of course, this I did not do. None of us did at the time. There was no time for such things.
The differentiation between an entrance and exit wound is often made on a disparity in sizes, the exit wound generally being larger, in the case of an expanding bullet. If, however, the bullet does not expand - if it is a full jacketed bullet, for example, such as used commonly in the military, the caliber of the bullet on entrance and exit will frequently be the same. And without deformation of the bullet, and without tumbling, the wounds would be very similar - and in many instances, even a trained observer could not distinguish between the two.
Eddie Barker: Did it occur to you at the time, or did you think, was this an entry wound, or was this an exit wound?
Malcolm Perry: Actually, I didn't really give it much thought. And I realize that perhaps it would have been better had I done so. But I actually applied my energies, and those of us there all did, to the problem at hand, and I didn't really concern myself too much with how it happened, or why. And for that reason, of course, I didn't think about cutting through the wound-which, of course rendered it invalid as regards further examination and inspection. But it didn't even occur to me. I did what was expedient and what was necessary, and I didn't think much about it.
In answer to our major question as to whether shots came from a direction other than the Book Depository Building, indicating other gunmen and a conspiracy, we have eye - or ear witnesses inside the building saying the shots came from there. Now, Mr. Holland who was on the railroad overpass, here, insists that he heard a shot from here. And in Mark Lane's book. Rush to Judgment, he writes that fifty-eight out of ninety people who were asked about the shots thought they came from the grassy knoll.
Now, expert opinions differ. All the experts agree that the shots could have come from the rear. But where some experts, such as Dr. Humes, say bluntly that they did, others - such as Dr. Wecht - find it highly unlikely.
CBS News concludes that the most reasonable answer is that the shots came from the Book Depository building, behind the President and Governor Connally. But if the shots came from the rear, and if there were only three of them, can all the wounds be accounted for? The President was struck at least twice. Governor Connally was wounded in the chest, the wrist, and the thigh. One bullet was recovered intact, as well as two large fragments. The Warren Commission concluded that of the three bullets fired, one missed entirely, one struck the President's skull and fragmented, and the third - this one - passed through the President's neck and went on to inflict all the governor's wounds. This is the single-bullet theory. And so we must ask: Could a single bullet have wounded both President Kennedy and Governor Connally?
We asked Arlen Specter, assistant counsel to the Commission, and now district attorney of Philadelphia, and the author of the single-bullet theory.
Arlen Specter: The possibility of one bullet having inflicted the wounds on both the President's neck and the Governor's body came in a very gradual way. For example, the first insight was given when Dr. Humes testified, based on his autopsy findings. And at that time it was made clear for the first time that the bullet that went through the President's neck hit no bone, hit no solid muscle. And, according to Dr. Humes, came out with great velocity.
Now, it was at that juncture that we wondered for the first time what happened to the bullet. Where did the bullet go? The probability is that it went into Governor Connally, because it struck nothing else in the car. That is the single most convincing piece of evidence that the one bullet hit both men, because looking down the trajectory, as I did through Oswald's own rifle, and others did too, the trajectory was such that it was almost certain that the bullet which came out of the President's neck with great velocity would have had to have hit either the car or someone in the car.
It is claimed that the bullet was planted on the governor's stretcher as part of a plot to link Oswald to the assassination. And that claim can never be disproved. The bullet is almost intact, only slightly flattened, with a little cone of lead missing from the rear end. Could such a bullet have penetrated successively, a human neck, a human torso, a wrist, and a thigh, and emerged in this condition? The Commission used animal carcasses and blocks of gelatin to test the bullet's penetrating power, firing repeated shots from Oswald's rifle. Now, this is standard technique. But, because of the difficulty of lining up such a shot, the Commission experts fired their bullets separately through the various simulators. Each time they measured how much speed the bullet had lost from its initial two thousand feet per second, and in the end, concluded that the bullet would have retained enough velocity to penetrate the Governor's thigh.
Walter Cronkite: The most persuasive critic of the single-bullet theory is the man who might be expected to know best, the victim himself, Texas Governor John Connally. Although he accepts the Warren Report's conclusion, that Oswald did all the shooting, he has never believed that the first bullet could have hit both the President and himself.
John Connally: The only way that I could ever reconcile my memory of what happened and what occurred, with respect to the one bullet theory, is that it had to be the second bullet that might have hit us both.
Eddie Barker: Do you believe, Governor Connally, that the first bullet could have missed, the second one hit both of you, and the third one hit President Kennedy?
John Connally: That's possible. That's possible. Now, the best witness I know doesn't believe that.
Eddie Barker: Who is the best witness you know?
John Connally: Nellie was there, and she saw it. She believes the first bullet hit him, because she saw him after he was hit. She thinks the second bullet hit me, and the third bullet hit him.
Nellie Connally: The first sound, the first shot, I heard, and turned and looked right into the President's face. He was clutching his throat, and just slumped down. He Just had a - a look of nothingness on his face. He-he didn't say anything. But that was the first shot.
The second shot, that hit John - well, of course, I could see him covered with - with blood, and his - his reaction to a second shot. The third shot, even though I didn't see the President, I felt the matter all over me, and I could see it all over the car.
So I'll just have to say that I think there were three shots, and that I had a reaction to three shots. And - that's just what I
John Connally: Beyond any question, and I'll never change my opinion, the first bullet did not hit me. The second bullet did hit me. The third bullet did not hit me.
Now, so far as I'm concerned, all I can say with any finality is that if there is - if the single-bullet theory is correct, then it had to be the second bullet that hit President Kennedy and me.
The Warren Report's contention that there was only one assassin rests on the conviction that all the wounds suffered by both men were inflicted by no more than three shots, fired from behind and above them. We have heard Captain Humes, as well as other doctors and experts. We have looked hard at the single-bullet theory. The case is a strong one.
There is not a single item of hard evidence for a second assassin. No wound that can be attributed to him. No one who saw him, although he would have been in full view of a crowded plaza. No bullets. No cartridge cases. Nothing tangible.
Walter Cronkite: Why was Officer Tippit in Oak Cliff off his normal beat? Those who believe there was a conspiracy involving the Dallas police force have maintained that the meeting between Oswald and Tippit was not an accident, that Tippit may have been looking for Oswald or vice versa. They say Tippit should not have been where he was and should not have been alone in the squad car. Eddie Barker talked to police radio dispatcher, Murray Jackson:
Eddie Barker: Officer Jackson, a lot of critics of the Warren Report have made quite a thing out of the fact that Officer Tippit was not in his district when he was killed. Could you tell us how he happened to be out of his district?
Murray Jackson: Yes, sir. I have heard this several times since the incident occurred. He was where he was because I had assigned him to be where he was in the central Oak Cliff area. There was the shooting involving the President, and we immediately dispatched every available unit to the triple underpass where the shot was reported to have come from.
As I was driving down the street, I seen this police car, was sitting here, and the officer was getting out of the car, and apparently he'd been talking to the man that was standing by the car. The policeman got out of the car, and as he walked past the windshield of the car, where it's kind of lined up over the hood of the car, where this other man shot him. And, of course, he was reaching for his gun.
And so, I was standing there, you know, I mean sitting there in the truck, and not in no big hurry to get out because I was sitting there watching everything. This man turned from the car then, and took a couple of steps, and as he turned to walk away I believe he was unloading his gun, and he took the shells up in his hand, and as he took off, he threw them in the bushes more or less like nothing really, trying to get rid of them. I guess he didn't figure he'd get caught anyway, so he just threw them in the bushes.
Dan Rather: Ruby operated a pair of sleazy nightclubs, The Carousel and The Vegas. In the free and easy atmosphere that seemed to characterize the boom city, Ruby was also a hanger - on of the police, entertaining off - duty officers in his strip joints, often carrying sandwiches over to the Police Building for his on-duty friends.
These are some of the people of Jack Ruby's world - his roommate, a competing nightclub owner, and two of Jack Ruby's girls. Mr. Weinstein, why do you think Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald?
Barney Weinstein: I think it was on the spur of the moment, that he really wanted to make himself look like a big man. And he thought that would make him above everybody else, that the people would come up and thank him for it, that people would come around and want to meet him and want to know him, "This is the man that shot the man that shot the President."
Jack Ruby was convicted of the murder of Oswald, but the conviction was reversed by an Appeals Court which held that an alleged confession should not have been admitted.
Ruby died six months ago of cancer, maintaining to the last that he was no conspirator, that he had killed Oswald out of anger and a desire to shield Jacqueline Kennedy from the ordeal of a trial at which she would have had to appear as a witness.
Mike Wallace: New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison quietly began his own investigation of the assassination last fall. In a sense he picked up where the Warren Commission had left off. Warren investigators questioned a number of people in New Orleans after the assassination, and they failed to implicate any of them. But the more Garrison went back over old ground, apparently, the more fascinated he became with the possibility that a plot to kill President Kennedy actually began in New Orleans. By the time the story of his investigation broke four months ago, he seemed supremely confident that he could make a case, that he had solved the assassination.
Jim Garrison: Because I certainly wouldn't say with confidence that we would make arrests and have convictions afterwards if I did not know that we had solved the assassination of President Kennedy beyond any shadow of a doubt. I can't imagine that people would think that - that I would guess and say something like that rashly. There's no question about it. We know what cities were involved, we know how it was done in - in the essential respects. We know the key individuals involved. And we're in the process of developing evidence now. I thought I made that clear days ago.
Mike Wallace: He shocked New Orleans four months ago by arresting the socially prominent Clay Shaw, former director of the New Orleans International Trade Mart.
Garrison's charge was that Shaw had conspired with two other men to plot the assassination of President Kennedy. Garrison said Shaw had known David Ferrie, an eccentric former airline pilot who was found dead a week before Garrison had planned to arrest him. Incidentally, the coroner said Ferrie died of natural causes. But Garrison called it suicide.
He said Shaw also knew Lee Harvey Oswald; that Ferrie, Oswald, and Shaw met one night in the summer of 1963 and plotted the President's death. Clay Shaw said it was all fantastic.
Clay Shaw: I am completely innocent of any such charges. I have not conspired with anyone, at any time, or any place, to murder our late and esteemed President John F. Kennedy, or any other individual. I have always had only the highest and utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Kennedy.
The charges filed against me have no foundation in fact or in law. I have not been apprised of the basis of these fantastic charges, and assume that in due course I will be furnished with this information, and will be afforded an opportunity to prove my innocence.
I did not know Harvey Lee Oswald, nor did I ever see or talk with him, or anyone who knew him at any time in my life.
Mike Wallace: A preliminary hearing for Shaw was held two weeks after his arrest. The hearing was complete with a surprise mystery witness, Perry Raymond Russo, twenty-five-year-old insurance salesman, and friend of the late David Ferrie. Through three days of intense cross-examination Russo held doggedly to his story, that he himself had been present when Shaw, Ferrie, and Oswald plotted the Kennedy assassination. Russo admitted at the hearing that he had been hypnotized three times by Garrison men...
Garrison has gone on to include Jack Ruby in the alleged conspiracy involving Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald. Garrison says Jack Ruby's unlisted telephone number in 1963 appears in code in address books belonging to Shaw and Oswald. He says both books note the Dallas Post Office box number 19106. Ruby's unlisted phone number was WHitehall 1-5601. And Garrison furnished a complicated formula for converting PO 19106 to WH 1-5601.
Mike Wallace: Garrison has expanded the scope of his charges to include not only a Shaw-Oswald-Ruby link, but the CIA as well. Further, Garrison says he knows that five anti-Castro Cuban guerrillas, not Lee Harvey Oswald, killed President Kennedy. He says the CIA is concealing both the names and the whereabouts of the Cubans.
The reason for Officer Tippit's murder is simply this: It was necessary for them to get rid of the decoy in the case - Lee Oswald... Lee Oswald. Now, in order to get rid of him - so that he would not later describe the people involved in this, they had what I think is a rather clever plan. It's well known that police officers react violently to the murder of a police officer. All they did was arrange for an officer to be sent out to Tenth Street, and when Officer Tippit arrived there he was murdered, with no other reason than that. Now, after he was murdered, Oswald was pointed to, sitting in the back of the Texas Theater where he'd been told to wait, obviously.
Now, the idea was, quite apparently, that Oswald would be killed in the Texas Theater when he arrived, because he'd killed a "bluecoat." That's the way the officers in New Orleans use the phrase. "He killed a bluecoat." But the Dallas police, at least the arresting Dallas police, fooled them, because they had, apparently, too much humanity in them, and they did not kill him...
The Dallas police, apparently, at least the arresting police officers, had more humanity in them than the planners had in mind. And this is the first point at which the plan did not work completely. So Oswald was not killed there. He was arrested. This left a problem, because if Lee Oswald stayed alive long enough, obviously he would name names and talk about this thing that he'd been drawn into. It was necessary to kill him.
Tonight we've asked if there was a conspiracy involving perhaps Officer Tippit, Jack Ruby, or others... On the basis of the evidence now at hand at least, we still can find no convincing indication of such a conspiracy. If we put those three conclusion together, they seem to CBS News to tell Just one story - Lee Harvey Oswald, alone, and for reasons all his own, shot and killed President Kennedy. It is too much to expect that the critics of the Warren Report will be satisfied with the conclusions CBS News has reached, any more than they were satisfied with the conclusions the Commission reached.
Concerning the events of November 22nd, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, the report of the Warren Commission is probably as close as we can ever come now to the truth.
I think the evidence indicates - of course, the car came down Main, up here, and down to Elm Street, and was approximately here when the first shot was fired. The first shot struck the President in the back of the right shoulder, according to the FBI report, and indicates therefore that it came from some place in the rear - which includes the possibility of it coming from the Book Depository building.
The second bullet struck the President in the throat from the front, came from behind this wooden fence, high up on a grassy knoll. Two more bullets were fired. One struck the Elm - the Main Street curb, and caused some concrete, or lead, to scatter up and strike a spectator named James Tague in the face. Another bullet, fired from the rear, struck Governor Connally in the back. As the limousine moved up to approximately this point, another bullet was fired from the right front, struck the President in the head, drove him - his body, to the left and to the rear, and drove a portion of his skull backward, to the left and to the rear. Five bullets, fired from at least two different directions, the result of a conspiracy.
Now, what happened there was that the Kennedy motorcade coming down there, the Kennedy limousine - there were shots from the rear, from either the Dallas School Book Depository building, or the Dell Mart, or the courthouse; and there were shots from the grassy knoll. This is triangulation. There is no escape from it, if it's properly executed.
I think that the massive head wound, where the President's head was literally blown apart, came from a quartering angle on the grassy knoll. The bullet was a low velocity dum-dum mercury fulminate hollow-nose, which were outlawed by The Hague Convention, but which are used by paramilitary groups. And that the whole reaction is very consistent to this kind of weapon. That he was struck and his head - doesn't go directly back this way but it goes back and over this way, which would be consistent with the shot from that direction, and Newton's Law of Motion.
Now, I feel also that the escape was very simple. Number one using a revolver or a pistol, the shells do not eject, they don't even have to bother to pick up their discharged shells. Number two, they can slip - put the gun under their coat, and when everybody comes surging up there they can just say, "He went that-a-away". Very simple. In fact, it's so simple that it probably happened that way.
I'm contented with the basic finding of the Warren Commission, that the evidence is overwhelming that Oswald fired at
the President, and that Oswald probably killed President Kennedy alone. I am not content with the findings on Oswald's possible connections with government agencies, particularly with the CIA. I'm not totally convinced that at some earlier time, unconnected with the assassination, that Oswald may have had more connections than we've been told about, or that have been shown. I'm not totally convinced about the single-bullet theory. But I don't think it's absolutely necessary to the final conclusion of the Warren Commission Report. I would have liked more questioning, a more thorough going into Marina Oswald's background. But as to the basic conclusion, I agree.
There was one conclusion, one basic conclusion that the Commission reached, I think, which can be supported by the
facts, and that was the Commission's conclusion that Ruby killed Oswald. But, of course, that took place on television. It would have been very difficult to deny that. But, outside of that there's not an important conclusion which can be supported by the facts and - and this is the problem.
And what the Commission was thinking and what they were doing is still hidden from us, of course. The minutes of the Commission meetings are locked up in the National Archives, and no one can see them. A vast amount of the evidence, FBI reports, CIA reports, which may be directly related to the information we should have, are also locked up in the Archives. No one can see that.
The photographs and X-rays of the President's body, taken at the autopsy in Bethesda, Maryland, taken just before the autopsy was begun, taken by Naval technicians, which in and of themselves might resolve the whole question as to whether or not there was a conspiracy, cannot be seen by anyone today, and in fact, not one member of the Warren Commission ever saw the most important documents in the case, the photographs and the X-rays. And not one lawyer for the Commission ever saw - was curious enough to examine the most important evidence.
Well, there were three, I think, levels of complaint. The first one was the institutional, you might say: the general problem that a government has when it searches for truth. The problem of trying to have an autonomous investigation, free from political interference, and at the same time, it's dealing by its very nature with a political problem.
The second level might be called the organizational level of - was the Warren Commission organized in a way that prevented it from finding facts? And here my findings were that by using a part time staff and by the Commission's detaching themselves from the investigation - in other words, not actively partaking in the investigation - it raised some problems as to whether the Warren Commission's investigation went deep enough, so that if there was evidence of a conspiracy, they would have in fact found it.
The third level of my criticism concerned the evidence itself, and this concerned the problem of when the Warren Commission was come - confronted with a very complex problem. For example, the contradiction between the FBI summary report on the autopsy and the autopsy report they had in hand - how they solved this problem, whether they simply glossed over it or whether they called witnesses, and - and this - this, of course, brought up the questions of - of a second assassin.
Edward Jay Epstein: art of the job of the Warren Commission was restoring confidence in the American Government. And for this he had to pick seven very respectable men, men who would lend their name and lend probity to the report. And so that the problem was, in any seven men he picked of this sort, they would have very little time for the investigation.
They would also have two purposes. One purpose would be to find the truth, all the facts. The other purpose would be to allay rumors, to dispel conspiracy theories and material of that sort.
Arlen Specter: My view is that there is absolutely no foundation for that type of a charge. When the President selected the commissioners, he chose men of unblemished reputation and very high standing. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States would have no reason whatsoever to be expedient or to search for political truths. Nor would Alien W. Dulles, the former head of the CIA, nor would John McCloy, with his distinguished service in government, nor would the Congressional or Senatorial representatives.
The Commission had before it the hard fact that Oswald's notebook contained the name, phone number, and license plate number of Dallas FBI agent, James Hosty. The FBI's explanation was that Hosty had asked Ruth Paine, with whom Marina Oswald was living, to let him know where Oswald was staying, that he jotted down his phone number, and that Marina, under prior instructions from her husband, also copied down Hosty's license plate.
Almost from the day the Warren Commission published its report, its decision to omit those vital X-rays and photographs has been under attack. Only that physical evidence, say the critics, can finally resolve the debate over how many bullets struck the President, where they came from, and where they went - the central questions in the argument over how many assassins opened fire in Dealey Plaza.
More than one critic has charged that the autopsy record in the Warren Report is not the original autopsy, but has been changed to conform with the Commission's theories...
It seems to CBS News that one of the most serious errors made by the Warren Commission was its decision not to
look at those photographs and X-rays, an error now compounded. For the Kennedy family, which had possession of the autopsy pictures, agreed last year to donate them to the National Archives, but only with the stipulation that the pictures be locked away for five years - with only certain authorized government personnel allowed to see them.
Now, no one would propose that those grim and tragic relics be made generally available, to be flashed across television screens and newspaper pages. But in view of their crucial bearing on the entire assassination we believe that those films should now be made available for independent examination by expert pathologists, with the high qualifications of Captain Humes - but without his status as a principal in the case.
There is one further piece of evidence which we feel must now be made available to the entire public: Abraham's Zapruder's film of the actual assassination. The original is now the private property of Life magazine. A Life executive refused CBS News permission to show you that film at any price, on the grounds that it is "an invaluable asset of Time, Inc." although these broadcasts have demonstrated that the film may contain vital undiscovered clues to the assassination.
Life's decision means you cannot see the Zapruder film in its proper form, as motion picture film. We believe that the Zapruder film is an invaluable asset, not of Time, Inc. - but of the people of the United States.
There have been a number of suggestions that the Commission, for example, was only motivated by a desire to put - to make things quiet, so as to give comfort to the Administration, or give comfort to the people of the country, that there was nothing vicious about this. Well, that wasn't the attitude that we had at all.
I know what my attitude, when I first went down, I was convinced that there was something phony between the Ruby and the Oswald affair, that forty-eight hours after the assassination, here's this man shot in the police station. I was pretty skeptical about that. But as time went on and we heard witnesses and weighed the witnesses - but just think how silly this charge is.
Here we were seven men, I think five of us were Republicans. We weren't beholden to any Administration. Besides that, we - we had our own integrity to think of. A lot of people have said that you can rely upon the distinguished character of the Commission. You don't need to rely on the distinguished character of the Commission. Maybe it was distinguished, and maybe it wasn't. But you can rely on common sense. And you know that seven men aren't going to get together, of that character, and concoct a conspiracy, with all of the members of the staff we had, with all of the investigative agencies - it would have been a conspiracy of a character so mammoth and so vast that it transcends any - even some of the distorted charges of conspiracy on the part of Oswald.
I think that if there's one thing I would do over again, I would insist on those photographs and the X-rays having been produced before us. In the one respect, and only one respect there, I think we were perhaps a little oversensitive to what we understand was the sensitivities of the Kennedy family against the production of colored photographs of the body, and so forth.
But those exist. They're there. We had the best evidence in regard to that-the pathology in respect to the President's wounds. It was our own choice that we didn't subpoena these photographs, which were then in the hands of the Kennedy family. I say, I wish-I don't think we'd have subpoenaed them. We could have gotten - Mr. Justice Warren was talking to the Kennedy family about that at that time. I thought that he was really going to see them, but it turned out that he hadn't.