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Frequently Asked Questions

Very often, I receive calls for help in preparing a report or a term paper on the assassination. So here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:

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How credible is the Warren Report?

The Warren Commission, consisting of "various outstanding citizens," was created to "ascertain, evaluate and report upon the facts relating to the assassination ... and the subsequent violent death of the man charged with that assassination ...

The purpose of the Commission is to examine the evidence developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and any additional evidence that may hereafter come to light ... to make such further investigation as the Commission finds desirable. [1]

It seems that the Commission did take the last sentence word-for-word. In the facts presented here, we will see that there has been only one truth for the Commission, which has deemed no further investigation "desirable".

In fact, prior to the appointing of the Special Commission, Deputy Attorney General D. Katzenbach wrote in a memo to President Lyndon B. Johnson's aide, Bill Moyers, on November 25, 1963: "The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates..." [2]

None of the Commission members had any investigative experiences. They completely relied on Hoover and his FBI. Later, Chief Justice Earl Warren stated: "Never in our lifetimes would we know the entire truth of what happened in Dallas." [3]

Now, for the report itself. The Commission decided to mistake witnesses such as Seth Kantor, B.W. Frazier and his sister, Gertrude Hunter, Roger Craig, Arnold Rowland, Victoria Adams, William Whaley. declared that several witnesses were lying-among them as W.W. Litchfield and Wanda Helmick. All these witnesses have one thing in common: Their testimonies were incompatible, inconsistent with, or contrary to the lone psychotic assassin theory.

The late Lee Harvey Oswald was denied legal counsel for his defense throughout the investigation. Upon Marina Oswald's request, the Commission denied her pleasure, but appointed Walter Craig (member of the American Bar Association) "to participate in the investigation and to advise the Commission whether, in his opinion, the proceedings conformed to the basic principles of American justice." [4] But the ABA observer took no part in the examination of the 395 witnesses who appeared before the Counsel and not before the Commission.

Repeatedly, the counsels made "dry runs" prior to the formal examinations. This is necessary in trials when one wants to change the testimony in a cross-examination. But in a fact-finding investigation, this behavior is profoundly suspicious.

During the testimonies of the 395 witnesses, the examination went off the record about 300 times, at crucial points and sometimes up to 7 and 8 times per witness. The most interesting case is the testimony of Patrick T. Dean. The counsel accused him of perjury and had threatened him with the loss of his job. Later, Dean requested to be heard before the Commission and told his story for the record, so we know about it today.

Of the 489 witnesses, only 395 - less than a fourth (94) - appeared personally to testify before the Commission itself. And during these testimonies, the Commission was never present as a body or throughout the full length of the testimony. [5] Although the Chairman was present at all 94 examinations, the estimated number of witnesses heard by the other members were:

    Representative Ford70
    Mr. Dulles60
    Senator Cooper50
    Mr. McCloy35
    Representative Boggs20
    Senator Russell6

Nobody of the Commission heard one of the witnesses who appeared before the Counsel (over 350), among them crucial witnesses such as Forrest V. Sorrels, Billy Lovelady, Abraham Zapruder, Domingo Benavides, George DeMohrenschildt, Jean L. Hill, James Tague (who was wounded during the assassination!!!) and Sylvia Odio. Some witnesses never appeared before the Commission: James Chaney (saw JFK when he was shot in the head and also saw him struck in the face), Bill and Gayle Newman (who stood on Grassy Knoll and said shots came from behind them), Charles Brehm (closest bystander when JFK was hit), J.C. Price (who said he saw a man with rifle running behind the wooden fence on Grassy Knoll), Milton Jones (who said the FBI sought for Oswald after he left the bus, although nobody knew him as yet), James Simmons (who said the shots came from Grassy Knoll), Richard Dodd (who told about a shot and smoke behind the fence), Ray Rushing (who said he saw Ruby two hours before he shot Oswald in the police headquarters, although Ruby had claimed to be at home), Marvin Robinson (who saw Oswald leave in a Rambler station wagon from the Texas School Book Depository), Ralph Yarborough (who was next to LBJ and said he smelled smoke when passing the Grassy Knoll). [6]

Many witnesses told about alterations to their testimonies, among them: Jean Hill, Phil Willis, Orville Nix, James Tague, Sam Holland, Roger Craig, Chester Breneman, Robert West (Reenactment figures), and Julia Ann Mercer. Mercer even claimed that the FBI had faked her signature. [7]

I hope this gives you a slight idea of the credibility of the Warren Commission's Report. A complete deconstruction of this report, as compared to the witnesses' actual testimonies, can be found in Silvia Meagher's book "Accessories After the Fact." I will cite a few of the arguments here to answer some other questions.

Were there any more gunmen involved? Who? Where?

Today, there is no doubt that there was more than one gunman in Dealy Plaza that day. In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassination confirmed this officially. "The Committee went through some turmoil, including a series of changes among its membership and staff, but in the end the Committee accomplished more than the Warren Commission had done in seeking the truth. The Committee concluded that there was a conspiracy to kill the president. It placed the blame on organized crime. The Committee concluded that four shots were fired at the president, not three as the Warren Commission had claimed. At least one Committee member, Congressman Christopher Dodd, said he believed the evidence indicated that three gunmen fired at the president." (Italics added) [8]

The evidence for this conclusion was a tape, which was recorded that day in Dallas through an open dictabelt microphone of a motorcycle Police officer. In examinations of this tape, experts stated that there had been at least four shots, and with "virtual certainty" a second gunman. [9] Further examinations showed that this gunman had to have been behind the fence on the Grassy Knoll. [10]

Blow-ups of photos and film showed riflemen (!) on the 6th floor window of the Depository, the so-called sniper's nest; they also showed suspicious figures behind the picket fence on the "Grassy Knoll" ("Badgeman," "Black Dog Man"), and, further, on the second floor of the Dal Tex Building. Suspicious figures had been arrested behind the Grassy Knoll and photographed. But the records of these arrests were allegedly lost, and so the identities of these gunmen remain unknown [11].

Did Oswald shoot Kennedy?

As established above, there was more than one gunman at Dealey Plaza that day, and the Warren Commission did not investigate honestly; indeed, they were completely duplicitous.

But did Oswald participate in the shooting? The paraffin test of Oswald's hands and his right cheek, conducted on November 23, 1963, was positive for his hands, but negative for his right cheek [12]. In a court of law, this would have been evidence in Oswald's favor, but the Commission asserted that the test "is completely unreliable in determining either whether a person has recently fired a weapon or whether he has not." [13].

Nobody saw Oswald on the 6th floor window after 1155 hrs on November 22nd. 90 seconds after the assassination, Oswald was seen by Roy Truly and Police officer M. L. Baker on the second floor. Oswald would have had to take the stairs down. But he had just 90 seconds to hide the rifle in the opposite corner of the sixth floor, run downstairs 4 floors, passing Victoria Adams, who never saw him, and reach the second floor where he was perceived to be "calm and collected" [14].

Other indications that Oswald could not have been the shooter are as follows: 1) there was a tree blocking the view from the sniper's nest to the motorcade during the first shot; 2) Oswald had poor rifle capability; 3) experts tried to do the same as Oswald was claimed to have done, but nobody was able to do that [15]); 4) Oswald was not familiar with this rifle [16]; and 5) the scope of the rifle was attached incorrectly and was not in working order [17]. There is more evidence, which shows that Oswald did not pull a trigger that day. But I think this is enough for a short answer.

If it was a conspiracy, who was responsible?

The conspiracy theories are very extensive. So I will introduce them to you briefly:

  • Government agencies did it. High officials in the White House, Secret Service, FBI and CIA planned the assassination. It was executed by paid killers. Most probably the order was shipped to the Mob and they did it. Afterwards the agencies ensured that the murderers remained undiscovered.
  • The Mafia did it. The Mob planned and executed the assassination. One indication for this is the involvement of Jack Ruby who had connections to the Mafia.
  • Right wing extremists did it. For them, Kennedy was a Communist because he tried to build peaceful relationships with Cuba and the Soviet Union. So these extremists planned and executed the assassination.
  • Communists did it. The Communists saw in Kennedy a friend of industrials and as responsible for the war in Vietnam, the blockade against Cuba and many other things. So they decided to kill him.

Beside these, there are minor theories. But they are not relevant here and have almost no basis in fact at all.

Is there any substance to the Garrison investigation?

Before I can answer this question, I need to give a short overview of the investigation. In November 1963, Jim Garrison (District Attorney of New Orleans then) learned through a TV report that Oswald had spent the summer of '63 in New Orleans [18]. And he was often seen with David W. Ferrie who participated in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. After questioning him, Garrison arrested Ferrie because he gave a very unbelievable story about his activities on November 22 [19]. He turned Ferry over to the FBI, and they released him shortly afterwards with a complete clearing of any involvement in the assassination. Ferrie died in '67. That was just a few days after the public had learned of the investigation, which Garrison had re-started in '66. Ferrie was his best witness at that time. During this investigation, the name Clay Bertrand turned up again and again as a business associate of Ferrie. Clay Bertrand was the alias of Clay Shaw. Under the name Bertrand, Shaw had hired an attorney (Dean Andrews) to defend Oswald. [20]

Garrison charged Shaw, and he was tried but was found not guilty. Although Garrison proved that a conspiracy did exist, the jury saw no evidence that connected Shaw to it. [21] Afterwards, government agencies tried multiple times to silence Garrison. He was prosecuted a twice, but in both trials he could prove very clearly that all the charges against him were groundless, completely false, and fabricated by the FBI and the CIA. [22]

In his book, Garrison wrote: "Considering the lofty credentials of the [Warren] Commission members and the quality and size of the staff available to them, I had expected to find a thorough and professional investigation. I found nothing of the sort. The mass of information was disorganized and confused. The Commission had provided no adequate index to its exhibits.... The number of promising leads that were never followed up offended my prosecutorial sensibility. And, perhaps worst of all, the conclusions in the Report seemed to be based on an appallingly selective reading of the evidence, ignoring credible testimony from literally dozens of witnesses." [23]

Okay, now let's take a deeper look into his investigation.

In summer '63, Oswald had distributed leaflets for the "Fair Play for Cuba Committee." On these leaflets, there was a stamp with the address of the Committee's office on 544 Camp Street, in New Orleans. This building had two entrances - the first was on 544 Camp Street, the second was on 531 Lafayette Street, the office of Guy Banister. [24] Banister was a leading member of the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean. These facts lead us to a contradiction between Oswald and Banister. Oswald was not a Communist. He most probably was framed as being one. Because of the suspicious activities in that building, it is most likely that Oswald, Ferrie, Banister, Anti-Cubans and weapon dealers were deeply connected with one another [25].

During the court trial against Shaw, Garrison called Dr. Pierre Finck (one of the doctors performing the autopsy on the President) to testify. "Finck informed the court that some powerful, high-ranking officers had kept him (and the other attending physicians) from performing the autopsy in accordance with proper military procedure. Finck also stated for the court that the bullet that had caused the wound in the President's back did not pass through his body.... Garrison's team presented evidence proving the single bullet theory invalid." [26]

At the trial, Shaw testified that he did not know and had never even met Ferrie. But there are photographs, which show him and Ferrie together at parties. [27]

Garrison revealed another witness, Perry Russo, who testified that in September 1963 he was at a gathering in Ferrie's apartment where he overheard Shaw discussing the Kennedy assassination. [28] He discovered major discrepancies in the story of Oswald's activities in Russia. Oswald could not have taken a scheduled flight to Russia [29]. And although Oswald had betrayed military secrets (an Air Force plane crash over Russia most likely could only have been done only by his help [30]), he got back the American citizenship very quickly, without questions or difficulties. The State Department even gave him a loan to come back [31].

Jim Garrison was one of the most important researchers that the case ever has ever had. His theory that CIA, FBI, Secret Service and high officials in the White House did conspire to kill Kennedy is now one of the most consistent and most accepted theories among the researchers. Even those who do not share his ideas cannot ignore him and have to agree at least partially.

Jim Marrs wrote about him: "Even today many assassination researchers - particularly those who pay closest attention to Government officials and fail to take the trouble to dig deep into the New Orleans investigation - believe Garrison was far afield of truth about Kennedy's death... it is now obvious that a concerted effort was made by elements within the Federal Government and the national news media to discredit his evidence and destroy his reputation even before he'd had a chance to bring his case to court." [32]

Did the CIA have anything to do with the assassination? What were their motives if they did? Was George Bush involved?

The above question established that there is much evidence and many indications that strongly suggest that the CIA was involved. Let me just name a few of them: Involvement of David Ferrie in the CIA's anti-Castro campaigns [33] and so Oswald, David Atlee Philips' (CIA) involvement with Oswald during his stay in New Orleans [34], Shaw was a CIA agent, Ruth Paine's (Oswalds landlady in Dallas) and DeMohrenschildt's most likely involvement with the CIA (not proven, [35]), David Ferrie was a payed CIA agent [36].

Probably Oswald was irritated whether he was a FBI or CIA or ONI agent. But obviously he thought one of this. Why else shouldn't he visit FBI Agent Hosty a few times. An indication that the CIA did pay Oswald or at least he was a major help for them are Oswald's employments at various CIA firms or firms which were deep connected to the CIA [37].

Why did the CIA helped in killing their own President? Let's remember some important facts of that time:

Kennedy denied any help in the CIA's Bay of Pigs invasion. One of the biggest factors that led to the end of the Cuba crisis was Kenendy's assuring that the USA would not invade Cuba. This decision had been a severe blow to the CIA. They had trained Exile-Cubans in camps in Louisana and Florida for that very purpose.

The CIA had planned and executed dozens of "covert operations" since the 50s. These operations did make up more than 30% of their activities at that time. They had done development and distribution of propaganda materials, robbed secret armies, had staged coup d'etats and even murders all around the world. In 1975, a Senate Committee discovered under Frank Church that the agency had planned many assassinations with help of different poisons, automatic rifles and even Mafia killers. [38] The CIA had helped to overthrow the Government in Iran (1953); Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (1956); had killed Patrice Lumumba in Zaire (Kongo then, in 1960), Rafael Trujilo Molina (Dominican Republic, 1961), Ngo Dinh-Diem (South Vietnam, 1963) and General Ren Schneider (Chile, 1970) [39].

But Kennedy set other accents during his Presidency: He denied Air Force help for the invasion in Cuba (Bay of Pigs), declined the suggestion to throw bombs on Cuba and to occupy during the rocket crisis, and signed memorandums to withdraw from Vietnam in 1963. The reason why Kennedy was killed is obvious in the actions by the new Government after the assassination. The decision to withdrew from Vietnam was rolled back, the incident in the Gulf of Tongking in August 1964 smelled of the CIA's involvment (on August 7, 1964, Johnson advised to take all military steps to secure the Americans - a de facto war declaration). When the USA finally signed the Contract of Paris, 75 000 Americans and Millions of Vietnam people died in that war.

Kennedy had enemies in the highest circles of the CIA and FBI. He fired the Chief Executive of the CIA, Charles Cabell. Among his enemies were Richard Helms and former CIA director Allen Dulles (member of the Warren Commission!!!), Gerald Ford (who leaked information to the FBI during the Warren investigation).

George Bush tried to cover all CIA actions regarding the assassination. In 1976, when the HSCA conducted its investigation, he called a meeting with CBS officials William Paley and Richard Salant to gain support for the CIA's policy of "burying the past." When dealing with CIA contacts within the CBS, one told Bush, "we protect ours, you protect yours." [40] Robert J.Groden writes about Bush: "The President John F. Kennedy Act of 1992 was enacted as a result of public outcry following the release of the movie 'JFK'. The Act requires any federal agency holding unreleased documents relating to the assassination to catalogue and transfer them to the National Archives. By June 1993, this review body still had not been appointed, partly because former President (and CIA director) George Bush left office with the needed records in his possession." [41]

Is there any relation between the assassination and the Watergate scandal?

The only relation is following. The Watergate scandal did definitely show that conspiracies created and sanctioned by the Government could - and did - exist. Several people were involved in the scandal, and they appeared in connection to the JFK assassination, such as Richard Nixon and E. Howard Hunt. I'm not very familiar with the scandal, but the fact remains that there was a conspiracy between agencies and the Government. And this is a crucial point of evaluating Garrison's theory.

I've heard the rumour that the limousine driver has fired the fatal head shot. Is it true?

This rumour came up because in the moment of the head shot (Z 313), when the driver (Special Agent William Greer) looked at John F. Kennedy, there can be seen a light spot on the Zapruder film that seems to be a chrome plated automatic pistol held by him, but is actually nothing more than the mirroring of the sun on the head and forehead of Special Agent Roy Kellerman sitting right next to the driver. Blow-ups clearly show this, and furthermore that William Greer had both of his hands on the steering wheel.

Was there a second shooter?

First let us remember the time frame for all of the shots. According to the Warren Commission, there have been only 4.8 through 7 seconds between the first and the last shot [42]. This time includes all possible firing sequences: hit-hit-miss, hit-miss-hit, miss-hit-hit. But the only sequence which fits the Commission's own arguments is hit-miss-hit from frame Z210 / Z224 through Z313 [43] (means 4.8 through 5.6 seconds). For the alleged assassination rifle, the Italian Mannlicher-Carcano, there is a minimum time of 4.6 seconds to fire three shots [44], probably more. Since the minimum time between two shots is 2.3 seconds, there is no time for a fourth shot. That means, if there was a fourth shot then there must have been a second shooter! Let us keep this in mind.

Now we will establish that there has been at least one additional shot at Dealey Plaza. One of the known three bullets had been found, the so called Magic Bullet. A second bullet was that which caused the head wound. A third bullet missed and caused the wound to bystander James Tague. These two bullets were never found. But mysteriously, there was a fourth bullet. According to the autopsy report of FBI agents Frank ONeill and James Sibert, this missile (not a fragment) was removed from the President's body. The existence of this entire bullet was confirmed by Admiral Calvin Galloway [45].
Since the bullet which caused the head wound was passing through the body, it could not be found in the President's body. This leaves only one possibility, the found missile caused one of the wounds which were claimed to be caused by the Magic Bullet (This one was found much later on a stretcher.). That means that there must have been at least one additional shot that hit Kennedy. And this leads us to a second shooter.

Can you give an overview of the various assassination theories?

No! Somebody else has already done this. Just go to the Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia!

Sources

[1] Executive Order No. 11130. November 30, 1963
[2] Marrs, Jim: Crossfire: The plot that killed John F. Kennedy. p. 459.
[3] Marrs, Jim: Crossfire: The plot that killed John F. Kennedy.
[4] WCR p. xiv
[5] Meagher, Silvia: Accessories after the fact. p. XXX
[6] Marrs, Jim: Crossfire: The plot that killed Kennedy. p. 478-479.
[7] Marrs, Jim: Crossfire: The plot that killed John F. Kennedy. p. 479.
[8] The Assassination of John F. Kennedy - A Complete Book Of Facts.
[9] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 172.
[10] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 175.
[11] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 69-70, 184-185, 192-195.
[12] WCR p. 560.
[13] WCR p. 561.
[14] WCH 3 p. 252.
[15] WCR p. 193-194.
[16] CE 1785; CE 1401 p. 286; CE 1790; CE 1403 p. 735.
[17] WCR p. 194; CE 2560; CE 1401 p. 297.
[18] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[19] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[20] Groden, Robert J.:The killing of a President, p. 134.
[21] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p.135.
[22] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[23] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[24] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[25] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[26] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 139.
[27] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 140.
[28] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 142.
[29] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[30] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[31] WCR, p. 807.
[32] Marrs, Jim: Crossfire: The plot that killed John F. Kennedy. p. 512.
[33] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 138.
[34] Ibda.
[35] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 131.
[36] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 140.
[37] Garrison, Jim: On the trail of the assassins.
[38] Church Committee, Alleged Assassination Plans on Foreign Statesmen; also Ranelagh, John: The Agency. The Rise and Decline of the C.I.A. New York 1986, p. 336-345.
[39] Ibda.
[40] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 202.
[41] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 203.
[42] WCR, p. 118.
[43] Evica, George Michael: And We Are All Mortal. p. 67.
[44] Ibda.
[45] Groden, Robert J.: The Killing of a President. p. 79.

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