Little Bits of History

Warren Commission formed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 29, 2010

Lee Harvey Oswald posing with his mail order weapons in May 1963

November 29, 1963: President Lyndon B. Johnson forms a commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The Warren Commission was headed by Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren and consisted of Representatives Hale Boggs [D- Louisiana] and Gerald Ford [R- Michigan], Senators John Sherman [R-Kentucky] and Richard Russell, Jr. [D-Georgia], Allen Dulles – former director of the CIA, and John J. McCloy – former president of the World Bank.

The conclusion reached by the Commission after exhaustive study was that Lee Harvey Oswald was working alone. Oswald could not be questioned as he had been shot and killed by Jack Ruby in front of millions of television viewers while Oswald was in police custody on November 24, 1963. Oswald is said to have fired three shots. The first shot struck President Kennedy in the upper back, passed through his body and then struck Governor John Connally. The second shot is said to have missed its target. The third shot struck the President in the head. The total time for the shots was 4.8 to 5.6 seconds.

Was the Commission merely a cover-up? There is controversy over the issue even today. Three later US government investigations agree with the Warren Commission’s finding of the number of shots fired and Oswald acting alone. The 26 volumes of testimony is not without criticism. Only one of the 94 witnesses were heard by everyone on the Commission. The star witness, Howard Brennan, had inconsistencies in his testimony. The Commission found fault with the Secret Service pointing out the total inadequacy of the security.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations felt that there was a fourth shot fired, by someone on the “grassy knoll” based on acoustic evidence. This fourth shot missed, but it meant that Oswald was not acting alone. The debate continues, books and movies have been produced siding with lone shooter or conspiracy theory. We may never really know.

“It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy’s Assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad all that the facts have been told and a statement to this effect be made now.” – Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, November 25, 1963

“What was really drawing me to the material was entirely unresolved feelings I still had from the age of 17. The Kennedy assassination was something that to me made no sense.” – John Weidman

“The ’50s was the last good decade of American history. It was really a 10-year vacation between the horror of World War II and the assassinations [John F. and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.] and Vietnam War of the 1960s. The ’50s was the last feel-good era.” – Richard Lindberg

“Assassination has never changed the history of the world.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Also on this day, in 1877 Thomas Alva Edison demonstrated the phonograph.

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