Book Excerpt: 'A Simple Act of Murder: November 22, 1963' by Mark Fuhrman

to gather all the necessary information and write it up into a publishable report before the presidential elections. On September 24, 1964, the Commissioners presented Lyndon Johnson with the "Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," or the Warren Report. The first thing the President said was, "It's heavy." Then he gave it to one of his aides to read. And that was just the 888-page report. Shortly afterwards, 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits were published. The Warren Commission had been established in order to squelch rumors about a possible conspiracy, yet the vast public record it created had the opposite effect. Even before the Warren Report was published, several writers, mostly European, had speculated that Kennedy's assassination was the fruit of a conspiracy. Once the Commission's report and hearings were published, several American writers published books critical of its findings. Edward Jay Epstein's Inquest, Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment, Sylvia Meagher's Accessories After the Fact, and Josiah Thompson's Six Seconds in Dallas (to name only the earliest and most prominent criticisms) all raised troubling questions about the basic facts of the assassination. Some of the questions had to do with evidence, such as the bullet found on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital that was alleged to have caused a series of wounds to both Kennedy and Texas governor John B. Connally, who was riding in front of Kennedy in the presidential limousine. This became known as the single bullet theory, and the bullet responsible was called the Magic Bullet. Others raised questions about the rifle linked to Oswald: it seemed inadequate to the task and impossible for him to have fired as quickly as the shots appeared in the amateur film of the assassination taken by Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder. In addition to these, and other, questions about the evidence, there was talk of other gunmen and claims of a well orchestrated cover-up to frame Oswald. The Warren Commission had made public all the testimony and evidence, but by keeping many records classified, it only fueled the suspicions. The government could not ignore these accusations for long. Less than two years after the report was issued, the medical team from the President's autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital was asked by the Justice Department (under Attorney General Robert Kennedy) to authenticate the X-rays and photographs held at the National Archives. During the autopsy the doctors had seen the X-rays during a brief search for a bullet they believed was still lodged in the President's body, but they were denied access to this important evidence while writing their reports. Earl Warren had viewed the photographs and X-rays before deciding that his commission should not make use of them, for fear that they would then have to become part of the public record. During the Justice Department inquiry, the doctors concluded that the X-rays and photographs were authentic. Yet they still weren't released to the public.

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