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The Warren Commission:
And the Assassination of JFK
The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy has been one of the most controversial cases in history. There are many theories to what really happened on that tragic day. What theory is the right Theory? Well, that depends on what evidence you believe is the ?Best evidence?.(Lifton)
The following presentation will address the Warren Commission and who they and how they involved in the investigation of the case. It will also discuss the facts of the case and determine if the Commission finding were valid.
Who was John F. Kennedy?
Throughout the history of the United States there have been few great presidents. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was one of these great presidents. He led an extraordinary life and influenced the people of his time tremendously. Although he had a short-lived Presidency, he created many productive projects and prospects for the future of the US. John F. Kennedy was a national hero and truly a great leader for his people.
John was born May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. His father Joseph Kennedy became the youngest banker president in the US. He was a millionaire by age twenty-five. Including John, the family there nine children. They were, in age order, Joseph Junior, John, Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Edward (Teddy). All the children were born in Brookline, Massachusetts. Each of the kids had a one million-dollar trust fund set up for them by the time they were born.(Encarta?95)
John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States in 1961. He was the youngest person ever to be elected president. Also, He was the first Roman Catholic President and the first President to be born in the 20th century. (Encrta?95) He never completed his third year as president. Therefore, his achievements were limited. He was shot and died within a half-hour.
President Kennedy was going to visit Texas. This trip had been under consideration for months before. As a political leader he wanted to resolve the controversy within the party before the election of 1964. The party also saw an opportunity to raise funds, by having JFK speak at a political dinner eventually planned for Austin, Texas.(WC 48)
At 11:40 a.m., on Friday, November 22, 1963, President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy and their party arrived at Love Field, Dallas, Texas. They drove around the area in an opened top limousine with the rest of the party following them. They followed a planned route only stopping for brief moments to greet crowds.
As the President limousine passed the front of the Texas School Book Depository a rapid fire of shots rang out. The President was hit once in the back of his neck and a second fatal shot in the back of his head. The Governor of Texas, John B. Connally was in the car and he was also hit. The President and the Governor were the rushed to Parkland memorial hospital. He was treated by two physicians they were not able to revive him. He was pronounced dead a 1p.m. Governor Connally under went surgery and recovered from his serious wounds. (WC 47-65)
President John F. Kennedy was the fourth American President to be assassinated, but his death was the first that led to the formation of a special commission for the purpose of making a full investigation. In earlier assassinations, the investigations had been left to existing judicial bodies. (livingstone) This special commission was the government appointed Warren Commission.
Who was the Warren Commission?
The warren Commission was formed seven days after the assassination. The Newly sworn President Lyndon B. John wanted to knock down any notion that the shooting had been done by the work of conspirators. So he sought out the man he felt should lead Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. At first Judge warren decline to lead the organization. He did not like the fact that one branch of government was being employed by another branch. President Johnson did not take no for an answer. He wrote a letter to the judge stating.
?Mr. Chief Justice you were a soldier in world war one, there?s nothing you did that compares with what you can do now for your country. As your Commander and chief, I am ordering you back into service.?(menninger 12)
Judge Warren finally agreed. The President then gave a mandate for the commission to read. It specifically told them what their job was. They were to Examine the evidence developed by the federal Bureau of Investigation and any additional evidence that they might come across or uncovered evidence by Federal and State Authorities. They were to evaluate everything and report it back to the President.
Here are some the of the Warren main Commissions Conclusions taken directly from the official report.
1. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository.
(a) Witnesses at the scene saw a rifle being fired out of sixth floor of the building.
(b) A bullet was found of the Governor?s stretcher at the hospital and the bullet fragments found in the President?s limousine were fired by the rifle found on the sixth floor of the building.
2. The shots that killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.
(a) The Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter Italian rifle from which the shots were fired was owned by and in the possession of Oswald.
(b) Oswald carried this rifle into the Depository building on the morning of November 22,1963.
(c) Oswald at the time of the assassination was present at the window from which the sots were fired.
3. Commission found no evidence that Oswald was involved with any person or group in a conspiracy to assassinate the President.
(a) The commission checked all possible leads and any groups Oswald could have been associated with.
4. Three shots were fired
The Warren Commission to look over all the important facts and wrote a report and submitted it.
Did the Commission do a thorough evaluation of all the elements and all the facts? There are many key points critical to the case that the Warren Commission over looked or could not determine.
The fact that our judicial and political systems are adversarial in nature makes interpretation of evidence and events that much more difficult because a certain amount of valid evidence is excluded from consideration for traditional legal reasons. Too much weight, in addition, can be given to scientific or testimony, which can eclipse valid eyewitness accounts. We also have for the deliberate fabrication of scientific evidence in political cases.(Livingstone 37)
There many unanswered facts in the case some are very controversial and they may never be answered For example many experts agree that the autopsy was not done professionally.
Let us take a look of some of evidence that was possibly over looked by the Commission. Here are a few examples.
* Did Oswald shoot John Kennedy?
Oswald was seen a few moments before the shooting in the lunchroom on the second floor, between 12:15 and 12:25 p.m. at the time the motorcade was originally scheduled to pass the Book Depository. The motorcade was five minutes late. If he shot Kennedy, he would not have been in the lunchroom, where he was seen by a police less than ninety seconds after the murder.
*Was the evidence planted?
There was no fingerprints or palmprints on either of the weapons linked to Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of his arrest. After his death a palmprint arrived at the FBI lab in Washington, supposedly taken from the alleged murder file. And linked to Oswald.
How many shots were there?
The Warren Commission stated that there were Three shots fired. Eyewitness at the scene claimed they heard only two. Even Governor Connally testified that he heard the first bullet and turned around to see were the sound came from and then was hit by the second.
Oswald always denied that he shot Kennedy and swore he was telling the truth but he was ignored.
Also there is evidence missing from the National Archive. These include bullet fragments found by the Warren Commission.
The missing evidence is just part of the complex puzzle. Could there have been a conspiracy? It seems odd that evidence that is supposed to be carefully looked over be missing.
After reading evidence supporting and criticizing the Warren Commission. I can see that there were many holes in the investigation. And I am left with many unanswered questions. I don?t understand why President Johnson insisted to having the Warren Commission run by another governmental agency. This seems to me to be very suspicious. I don?t think the Commission did a good evaluation of the facts. Whether it was because of mistakes, cover up or because other agencies involved did cooperate is not known. In my view this can have been avoided if these agencies worked together. In conclusion the right investigative methods were not accomplished because of the negligence and the assumptions of circumstantial evidence with agencies involved.
Report of the Warren Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1964.
Posner, Gerald. Case Closed. New York: Random House, 1993.
Menninger, Bonar. Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK. New York: ST. Martin?s Press, 1992.
Livingstone, Harrison E. Killing The Truth. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1993.
Lifton, David S. Best Evidence. New York: Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc., 1980.
. Hieatt, A., Kent, “John F. Kennedy,” Encarta’ 95, CD-ROM.