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Defining our terms


Pat Speer
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There has recently been some dispute as to what constitutes a Warren Commission defender. Many of the early critics thought the Warren Commission and its staff were well-intentioned but ultimately incorrect in their conclusions. Others thought they were deliberate liars and accessories after the fact. Neither group was considered "defenders of the Warren Commission" by anyone beyond the fringe.

In recent years, however, there seems to have been a shift whereby some will claim that those believing the Warren Commission were in large part deceived or simply mistaken are "defenders" of the commission. I think this is probably unfair.

The Warren Commission and its staff made some severe mistakes. There were leads which they failed to follow. There were witnesses lacking in credibility that they propped up simply because these witnesses supported what they wanted people to believe. Their report was a prosecutor's brief. On a certain level they MUST have known there was more to the story than what they told the public.

BUT that doesn't mean they KNEW Oswald was innocent. Instead, I suspect most if not all of those involved felt Oswald was probably guilty, but felt they had to make his guilt seem more obvious than it really was, for the good of the country, blah blah blah... In other words, I think they rationalized their failure to uncover the WHOLE truth, by telling themselves that what little truth they could find--that Oswald was involved in some way and had no obvious co-conspirators--was indicative of a larger truth, when in fact it may have been a mirage.

The recent death of my father gave me some perspective on this. My father had lung cancer, but was receiving chemo. He felt sick and went to the Veteran's hospital, convinced it was not the chemo, because he'd had chemo before and had never felt this sick. They gave him some fluids and sent him on his way, without ever checking him out to see if it could be something else.

It was. The next day he collapsed and was taken to a local hospital. He had a severely bleeding ulcer in his stomach. The GI doctor thought the bleeding too severe to be cauterized, and said a surgeon was needed. The surgeon, however, thought it unnecessarily risky to operate on an 81 year old man with lung cancer. (Or maybe he was worried about a lawsuit. I don't know. He never showed his face and his refusal to act was never adequately explained.) In any event, the staff physicians decided to sit by and cross their fingers the ulcer would heal itself.

The next day, my brother and I arrived. I told the doctors I wanted a second opinion, and asked if they knew the names of any of my father's doctors at the Veteran's hospital. Although they had my father's medical records, they claimed they didn't know the names of his doctors. Maybe they were trying to cover for whoever saw my dad and sent him away. In any event, I thought this a bit strange.

The next morning, however, we received a call from the GI doctor. He'd concluded that my dad's ulcer wouldn't heal itself, and that the only hope was for him to put a tube into my dad with which he could try to clamp off the bleeding. He warned us that if he failed our dad could bleed to death right then and there. They then lowered dad's sedation, so he could give some sort of authorization, which he did by using his hands to say my brother and I should decide. We decided to go for it. It didn't work. The GI doctor, visibly shaken, spoke briefly to my brother and disappeared down the hall. My brother, myself, and my dad's girlfriend gathered around my dad to watch him bleed to death.

Only he didn't. Five hours passed. Eventually, after being pressured by a nurse to cut off dad's blood transfusion, we allowed her to remove his breathing tube, which put extra pressure on his heart, which, since we'd allowed his blood supply to drop significantly, wore his heart out. It stopped. He died. After saying our good-byes, we slowly left the room. The hospital said they'd take care of the body.

A few days later, when the company with whom we'd arranged dad's cremation came to collect his body, however, we found that the hospital had put dad in the wrong body bag and had given him to a rival company. This was (at least reportedly) soon straightened out.

Now, here (at long last) is the analogy to the Warren Commission... When I talked about this later with friends and family, several of whom are in the medical profession, I was told, repeatedly, "Well, the doctors did EVERYTHING they could!" I'll repeat that... "EVERYTHING they could!"

Now, from MY perspective, the VA doctor who'd failed to check dad out did not do everything he or she could. And the surgeon who refused to operate or even meet with us did not do everything he could. And neither did the GI doctor who gave up trying to clamp off the bleeding after a half hour or so, and then walked away while dad slowly, very slowly, bled to death. While their best might not have been good enough to save dad, these people clearly did not do everything they could.

And what about the nurse? She pressured us, while under the illusion dad would die momentarily, into removing his blood transfusion. A few hours later, when dad stopped bleeding, and his blood pressure stabilized, she then convinced it was only temporary, and that we should remove all his tubes and medication in order to "speed the process" along. Well, heck, in retrospect...what if she was wrong? What if he'd actually stopped bleeding? I mean, she never even spoke to a doctor about this. She had it in her mind that dad was a goner, and told us what to think...and we thought it.

Now, to be clear, I'm saying that, in this instance, I was in the shoes of the Warren Commission, and the DPD and the FBI were the doctors and nurses. I was reliant upon them for information, and they failed to tell me much of what I needed to know. To their eyes, dad was an old man with lung cancer for whom death would probably be a blessing. (It may also have been financially advantageous for them that he have a swift death. I don't know.)

In any event, there is an institutional predisposition among people in the medical profession to defend the actions and lack of action of these doctors, just as there was, and remains, a institutional predisposition among people in politics, law enforcement, and the media to defend the actions and lack of action of those investigating the murder of President Kennedy in 1963 and 1964.

They just don't see it. To them, Oswald was a commie weirdo who thought it would be cool to shoot a president. It was as pointless to fully investigate the shooting as it was to give blood transfusions to a man with a hole in his stomach.

Anyhow, that's my take. And I am most definitely NOT a Warren Commission defender.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Guest Tom Scully

I am sorry for your loss, Pat. Nearly 20 years ago, we took the advice of my mother's physician and discontinued life support because her doctor claimed her organs were shutting down as tests were interpreted to confirm they were ravaged by sepsis.

Mom had suddenly become comatose 12 hours before, and although only in her early 60's, she had suffered an unexplained health crisis two years before, went through a series of misdiagnosis for the first week, and after being maintained by breathing and other hoses and wires for several weeks, she spontaneously recovered but the cause was never diagnosed. She firmly instructed us to let her go, without advanced care, if such a crisis ever arose again.

She passed away within 30 minutes of being taken off the respirator, and ten days later, her doctor informed our family that further tests did not indicate sepsis. He had talked us out of an autopsy on the night of her death, claiming it was unnecessary because the direct cause of death was sepsis.

Pat, nothing you wrote explains or lessens the compromise of the investigation resulting from his placement of Albert Jenner on the WC staff, on the recommendation of Tom C. Clark.

IMO, the integrity of the commission's investigation vanished with that act. I have supported my reasons for saying this in hundreds of posts on this forum. RFK's and Hoover's credibility were also wrecked by the appointment of Jenner. Why didn't they just appoint Yarris, Patrick, Allen Dorfman, IB Hale, and Bobby Baker to the WC staff to help Jenner determine whether there was a conspiracy involving Ruby, Oswald, and General Dynamics? We know just in the last few years that Jerry Ford was an FBI snitch equipped with a secret FBI brief case, and they he supplied the FBI at a level as high as DeLoach with Jenner's name just after he was proposed by Warren, so that the FBI could "investigate" Jenner. I guess he passed with flying colors!

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Could the Volumes and the report be considered one of the most important Governmental Document ever produced? If so one must look at what it really contains. The Report was merely for the lazy. Milk if you will. The rest, which is really just about all, is the meat. Within the indications of conspiracy are stark. Could this really be accidental? If that's the quality of US Government publications the place went to the dogs a looong time ago.

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This of course comes from the sub text of Best Evidence. Where Lifton implies that the WC was not as disgraceful as Sylvia Meagher leads us to beleive. They were actually duped. According to Lifton by his theory of what happened at autopsy.

In my view, this is simply untenable today. We have the declassified executive session transcripts now. So we know the following:

1. The WC had a very definite bead about Oswald at the Monterey School of Languages.

2. The WC had the autopsy materials and in fact Rankin wondered out loud about how the back wound exited the throat.

3. Rankin understood that Sen. Russell disagreed with his and the Troika's position. Therefore he deliberately mislead him about the stenographic record of the last meeting. Perhaps nothing shows just how bad the WC was than this.

4. The Commission knew they were not being served well by Hoover and that Hoover had broken FBI standards by handing them a report that was conclusive and not investigatory. This is in their own trasncript.

5. Warren had the hell scared out of him by LBJ and Mexico City. He therefore was essentially a neutered figurehead. And this was shown at the first executive session meeting.

6. The Troika of McCloy, Dulles, and Ford showed who really was in control by vetoing Olney with Hoover's help.

7. This essentially marginalized the three members of the Commission who were not CIA/Wall Street pimps: Russell, Boggs, Cooper. Russell conducted his own inquiry and clearly disagreed with the Troika on the credibility of Marina Oswald. As I said above, Russell was then steamrolled at the last meeting.

8. Whatever reservations about Marina, Brennan, and Markham the counsel had--and some of them, like Ball and Liebeler did--they were essentially told to shut up about it because the Troika wanted them in. Again, we have this in their own words, specifically Liebeler's.

9. So when Rankin made out his fateful outline in January, the fix was in since that is what the Troika wanted. The three most powerful and influential staff members were Rankin, Redlich, and Willens. And there is no doubt they controlled the final product on orders from the Troika.

10. There never ever was any real investigation by the Commission. When they did do something of this nature, they mostly disregarded how the results were jarring: as in the timing of Oswald to the Tippit murder scene. So not one of their conclusions has stood the test of time, not one. This is because they were almost totally reliant on the FBI, CIA, and to a lesser extent, the DPD for their evidence. There was never any independent investigation or analysis by the Commission. So the Commission turned out to be a rubber stamp for these three groups. Which was a fatal error in judgment.

Did the Commission know it was a fraud when it issued the report? I think its very difficult not to conclude that that it so. I mean Gaeton Fonzi had Specter tongue tied on the SBT alone. I mean compare the Lopez Report with the Slawson/Campbell Mexico CIty report. Read Fonzi's report on his first interview with Sylvia Odio. Why did Specter not publish the SIbert-O'Nneill report? Because he was never even sure that the back wound penetrated.

I could go on and on. But if you listen to the tape of Liebeler, Jenner, and Ball on BOR from about three weeks ago you will see that these guys cannot handle even the most simple questions from what are mostly just average and interested Americans. That says a lot.

In fact, everything.

Jim, I agree with pretty much everything you've written. The report WAS a prosecutor's brief and was always designed as such. I just think it's quite likely, even probable, that the commission and its staff, as LAWYERS, were used to seeing cases in which people in Oswald's shoes were guilty, and that, as a result, the possibility he was actually innocent was never honestly considered. In his posthumously-issued memoirs Warren spells out that there was never any real question in his mind that Oswald was guilty, and that, if the WC investigation had been a trial, it would have lasted but two days. TWO DAYS. That says to me that all the re-enactments and study of the medical evidence, etc, was to him a waste of time, performed just so they could say they'd been performed, and that the Mexico City mystery and the Odio incident, etc, were equally distracting.

Now, did Warren and the other Commissioners knowingly LIE at times, both in their report and afterward? I suspect so. But to them, I suspect, it was a white lie, as, no matter how confusing the evidence, the fact of Oswald's guilt was never really in doubt.

P.S. To be clear, I don't think their inability to rise up and fight the wave of "that looney Oswald did it" sentiment and posturing absolves them of anything. To make a baseball analogy, they came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, tried to bunt for a base hit, and struck out. To make a basketball analogy, they were deliberately fouled in the final seconds of a game by their opponent in the expectation they wouldn't make the free throws, and then missed them both. In other words, they had an opportunity to do something great, and failed, in large part because they lacked the character to do so. It would have taken men of extraordinary independence and courage to do an open and honest investigation. And they just didn't have the tools.

Edited by Pat Speer
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No matter our disagreements Pat, please accept my condolences on the passing of your father.

Having just been through a bout of colon cancer and treatment with my 81 year old mother I can understand the problems as it relates to medical staff and hospitals.

I only wish you had a better outcome.

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Pat,

My condolences to you as well. However, I do disagree with you on this.

There are a myriad of reasons to believe that the staff of the Warren Commission, at least, performed a willfull coverup of the truth. After all, they did the real work; "investigating" and interrogating witnesses, writing the conclusions. Arlen Specter knew how absurd the SBT was. Whoever came up with the list of those who were to be deposed left off Admiral Burkley and a host of other crucial witnesses, yet managed to find Viola Peterman, the infant Oswald's babysitter and several other completely insignificant "witnesses" to nothing. I don't believe that happened, or can ever happen, innocently.

As the original critics noted, the Warren Report's conclusions often didn't correspond to, or were directly contradicted by, the sources they were footnoted to in the volumes of Hearings & Exhibits. While one can expect an instance or two like that and attribute it to human error, this was a consistent pattern and there is no innocent explanation for it. Whoever was in charge of organizing the "evidence" in the 26 volumes did so in the most haphazard manner imaginable. There was no rational, chronilogical order to the testimony, for instance. This can only have been done to further discourage the public from wading through it. Combined with an overt attempt on the part of EVERY counsel who deposed witnesses, to blatantly "pad" the record with meaningless personal information, the intent of the Commission was clear, and it was not to discover the truth. I don't believe they were duped in the least.

I could go on and on. The reason why so many of us believe in such a large conspiracy can be traced back to the "performance" of the Warren Commission. I think they knew Oswald wasn't the assassin, were well aware of the conspiracy and in fact were in the employ of the conspirators.

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Mr. Speer, may your father rest in peace.

I believe your analysis is valid, but bear in mind that it does not apply to Allen Dulles, who lied because he was one of the conspirators, not because of any other reason. He knew Oswald was not the killer.

Edited by Andric Perez
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Mr. Speer, may your father rest in peace.

I believe your analysis is valid, but bear in mind that it does not apply to Allen Dulles, who lied because he was one of the conspirators, not because of any other reason. He knew Oswald was not the killer.

I feel that Dulles may have been a conspirator. I believe 100% that he knew Oswald was not the killer. With some of the other commissioners, and with some members of the staff, it's possible that some sort of cognitive dissonance was at play, especially when they were probed on matters after the Report was published because the discomfort they are feeling in certain debates is palpable.

For the likes of Dulles the lying was part of who he was. Probably fully justified in his own mind. Ford moving the back wound for the sake of "clarity" and then denying any wrong-doing afterwards was akin to him being caught naked in bed with his best friend's wife and insisting that nothing untoward happened whilst putting his underpants back on.

Lee

Do you think that there were any members of the WC that did not know that Oswald was not the killer?

I guess another way to put my question is what WC members were honest?

I directed this question at Lee but I invite every member to answer

I am very interested to know if anyone feels the way I do about certain WC members

I agree with Lee that Dulles 100% knew Oswald was not the killer

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I agree with you Lee

I believe Hale Boggs and Richard Russell were caught in a place neither of them wanted to be, like you said their personal and families safty would be in jeopardy

In Hale Boggs' case the worst came true

He was silenced forever

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....There are a myriad of reasons to believe that the staff of the Warren Commission, at least, performed a willfull coverup of the truth. After all, they did the real work; "investigating" and interrogating witnesses, writing the conclusions. Arlen Specter knew how absurd the SBT was. Whoever came up with the list of those who were to be deposed left off Admiral Burkley and a host of other crucial witnesses, yet managed to find Viola Peterman, the infant Oswald's babysitter and several other completely insignificant "witnesses" to nothing. I don't believe that happened, or can ever happen, innocently.

As the original critics noted, the Warren Report's conclusions often didn't correspond to, or were directly contradicted by, the sources they were footnoted to in the volumes of Hearings & Exhibits. While one can expect an instance or two like that and attribute it to human error, this was a consistent pattern and there is no innocent explanation for it. Whoever was in charge of organizing the "evidence" in the 26 volumes did so in the most haphazard manner imaginable. There was no rational, chronilogical order to the testimony, for instance. This can only have been done to further discourage the public from wading through it. Combined with an overt attempt on the part of EVERY counsel who deposed witnesses, to blatantly "pad" the record with meaningless personal information, the intent of the Commission was clear, and it was not to discover the truth. I don't believe they were duped in the least.

I could go on and on. The reason why so many of us believe in such a large conspiracy can be traced back to the "performance" of the Warren Commission. I think they knew Oswald wasn't the assassin, were well aware of the conspiracy and in fact were in the employ of the conspirators.

Essentially I agree with what Don Jeffries wrote. I usually do.

In 1977 Vince Salandria wrote an article entitled The Design of the Warren Report, to Fall to Pieces

Excerpt:

What I did not know when I wrote that article in 1964 was that the Warren Commission's single assassin conclusion was designed to fall to pieces, was designed to be incredible, was designed to self destruct.

To my friend, Professor Thomas Katen, I owe the brilliant insight which he has characterized as the "transparent conspiracy". Tom propounded the view that the Warren Report was not a cover-up, but rather was

a transparent conspiracy, the purpose of which was to reveal the assassination to be a conspiracy although the Report seemed to have been endeavoring to prove a single assassin killing.

Tom's concept was that the Warren Commission covered up the conspiracy in such a gross and clumsy way so as to reveal intentionally the existence of conspiracy. Make no mistake about it, the Warren Commission

and its staff were made up of very able men. If these men had wanted to cover up the conspiracy more effectively they could have done so. As we shall see, the cover-up was accomplished in such a self-defeating fashion

that one would have to suspend common sense and respect for evidence in order to accept the Report's conclusions.

Salandria went on to make his case. Twenty two years after writing it, Salandria said that "he would not change much."

This was the final paragraph of Gerald McKnight's Breach of Trust:

"The government did not want to delve into the heart of darkness of the Kennedy assassination
because it feared what it would uncover:
the brutal truth that Kennedy was a victim of deep divisions

and visceral distrust over how to solve the "Castro problem," and that his assassination was carried out by powerful and irrational forces within his own government."

Italics mine.

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Let me tell you something funny Jim. I almost posted what you did. I had referred first to my copies of Rush to Judgment and Accessories After the Fact before winding up choosing the two that I did.

I wouldn't be surprised if the best quote might come from Heritage of Stone. Garrison was a better writer than Lane, although the quote you referenced is very good.

Edited by Michael Hogan
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