The Kennedy Assassination: What The Warren Report Did Not Tell America Essay, Research Paper
November 24, 1998
The Kennedy Assassination: What the Warren Report Did Not Tell America
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was travelling along a predetermined motorcade route in Dallas, Texas when he was fatally shot, receiving wounds to the chest, back, and head. Shortly after the assassination, Dallas police arrested former U.S. Marine Corps Private Lee Harvey Oswald. On November 24 of the same year, Jack Ruby, owner of a Dallas nightclub, shot Oswald. Less than a year after the two murders, on September 24, 1964, the Warren Commission, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, released a report stating their verdict that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy “alone and without advice or assistance” (Encarta). Now, thirty-five years after the assassination, many Americans still believe the commission’s claim that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of President Kennedy. However, all evidence points toward the more frightening reality that the United States government might have been involved in a conspiracy to kill the president and an ensuing cover-up. Thus, the question still remains: Who really killed J.F.K.? The day of President Kennedy’s assassination, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into the office of president while flying back to Washington on Air Force One. Seven days later, Johnson appointed a commission of seven members,
headed by Earl Warren, to investigate the assassination. After questioning 552 witnesses, the Warren Commission released their 296,000-word report on September 24, 1964 (Encarta).
The Warren Report stated that Lee Harvey Oswald fired all three of the shots that killed President Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository. This conclusion was accepted by the nation as proven fact until educated questions began to arise and the public became aware of a possible conspiracy. Could the Warren Report have been wrong? One of the many eyewitnesses that the commission leaned on heavily could not even pick Oswald out of a group of suspects. This was ironic because it was the same witness who supposedly saw Oswald actually shoot President Kennedy. Another piece of evidence that contradicted the Warren Report was a paraffin test taken of Oswald’s right cheek. This test was used to tell if he could have possibly fired the rifle. It was not until after the test came out negative that the commission called it unreliable (O’Toole 7). In a 1970 CBS-TV interview, President Lyndon B. Johnson stated that he doubted the commission’s “single assassin” theory. Before the interview was aired, he asked for that part to be deleted and withheld from the public for the sake of “national security.” Johnson also added in a 1971 interview with Leo Janos, “I never believed that Oswald acted alone, although I can accept that he pulled the trigger. . . .we had been operating a . . .Murder Inc. in the Caribbean” (O’Toole 8). These testimonies are not all of the evidence indicating that Oswald was not the only assassin. Jesse Curry, chief of the Dallas Police Department at the time of the murder, adds:
I don’t have a strong feeling that there was someone there [the grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza], but, on the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me at some point in history, that proof will show that there was somebody up there. (O’Toole 7)
Georgia’s Senator Richard Russell stated in January of 1970 that he had never believed that Oswald acted alone because there was too much evidence against that claim. His opinion is significant because he was part of the Warren Commission. He had supposedly attempted to persuade Warren to add his opinion to the report but Warren insisted on a “unanimous report” (O’Toole 8).
In addition to the extensive evidence that lay to rest the claim that Oswald was the only assassin, there exists evidence that implies that he had nothing to do with Kennedy’s assassination. The evening of the murder, Oswald denied killing President Kennedy. George O’Toole later processed these denials on the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE), which is more commonly called the “lie detector.” Oswald’s statement that he did not kill the president showed nearly no stress at all. When testing on the PSE, stress is a necessary part of lying, but can be caused by another distraction. This information put together leads one to believe that Oswald was telling the truth when he denied shooting President Kennedy. However, because of the simplicity of this discovery, O’Toole doubted the integrity of the PSE. To get rid of this doubt, he ran another copy of the same quote made by Oswald through the PSE. This copy was taken by a different microphone, but revealed identical stress to the first copy, thus
indicating that Lee Harvey Oswald must have been telling the truth (O’Toole 125). Another source of evidence that Oswald was innocent involved the alleged murder weapon and his ability to fire the rifle. In an experiment done by Howard Roffman, Oswald would have had to be a better shot than twelve out of fifteen expert FBI riflemen in order to fire all three shots in the allotted time period. This feat seems impossible given the fact that Oswald was considered a “poor shot” when he left the marines. This evidence is even more stunning considering the murder weapon was the poor-shooting Manlicher-Carcano 6.5 mm Italian rifle (Roffman 54-55, 70). If Oswald did, in fact, kill Kennedy, then why did he use such a primitive and poor-shooting weapon when he was not necessarily an excellent shot himself? The truth is that Lee Harvey Oswald was not a good enough rifleman to shoot President Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963.
If Oswald did not kill Kennedy, then who did? The answer to that question is yet to be found, but, as frightening as it may seem, it might lie within the United States government. John Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the time of the assassination, supposedly had learned by September of 1962 that the Marcello organization of the Mafia in New Orleans was planning to kill President Kennedy. Against his constitutional duty, Hoover concealed the knowledge of Carlos Marcello’s plans from the secret service, qualifying him for the crime of treason (North
47-48). As a part of Marcello’s “contract,” an aggressive look-alike Oswald appeared in Dallas a month before the shooting to frame the real Oswald (North 195). After the
assassination, Hoover took drastic steps to withhold the information of the “contract” from the government and investigators (North 47-48).
All of this evidence does not answer the question of who killed President John F. Kennedy, but it does give a strong opposition to the Warren Report. For many years the nation has believed the findings of the Warren Commission to be true. However, the fact is that they are not true. There is just too must evidence that contradicts the report. For example, Abraham Zapruder caught on video the entire sequence of shots (Lifton 19). This video was only barely touched on in the report. America may never know who really killed President John F. Kennedy, but there is someone out there who does, and until they come forward, the nation is forced to believe the lies and deception given by the first government agency to investigate the assassination, the Warren Commission.
“Warren Report.” Encarta. Microsoft Corporation, 1998.
Lifton, David S. Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. New York: Macmillan, 1980.
North, Mark. Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the Assassination of President Kennedy. New York: Carol & Graf, 1991.
O’Toole, George. The Assassination Tapes: An Electronic Probe into the Murder of John F. Kennedy and the Dallas Coverup. New York: Penthouse Press, 1975.
Roffman, Howard. Presumed Guilty: Lee Harvey Oswald in the Assassination President Kennedy. London: Associated U P, 1975.