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Bertrand Russell: 16 questions about the assassination


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16 Questions on the Assassination

By Bertrand Russell

The Minority of One, 6 September 1964, pp. 6-8

This article was published in the September 1964 issue of M.S. Arnoni’s The Minority of One.

The official version of the assassination of President Kennedy has been so riddled with contradictions that it is been abandoned and rewritten no less than three times. Blatant fabrications have received very widespread coverage by the mass media, but denials of these same lies have gone unpublished.

Photographs, evidence and affidavits have been doctored out of recognition. Some of the most important aspects of the case against Lee Harvey Oswald have been completely blacked out. Meanwhile, the F.B.I., the police and the Secret Service have tried to silence key witnesses or instruct them what evidence to give. Others involved have disappeared or died in extraordinary circumstances.

It is facts such as these that demand attention, and which the Warren Commission should have regarded as vital. Although I am writing before the publication of the Warren Commission’s report, leaks to the press have made much of its contents predictable. Because of the high office of its members and the fact of its establishment by President Johnson, the Commission has been widely regarded as a body of holy men appointed to pronounce the truth. An impartial examination of the composition and conduct of the Commission suggests quite otherwise.

The Warren Commission has been utterly unrepresentative of the American people. It consisted of two Democrats, Senator Russell of Georgia and Congressman Boggs of Louisiana, both of whose racist views have brought shame on the United States; two Republicans, Senator Cooper of Kentucky and Congressman Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, the latter of whom is a leader of his local Goldwater movement and an associate of the F.B.I.; Allen Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Mr. McCloy, who has been referred to as the spokesman for the business community. Leadership of the filibuster in the Senate against the Civil Rights Bill prevented Senator Russell from attending hearings during the period. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Earl Warren, who rightly commands respect, was finally persuaded, much against his will, to preside over the Commission, and it was his involvement above all else that helped lend the Commission an aura of legality and authority. Yet many of its members were also members of those very groups which have done so much to distort and suppress the facts about the assassination. Because of their connection with the Government, not one member would have been permitted under U.S. law to serve on a jury had Oswald faced trial. It is small wonder that the Chief Justice himself remarked that the release of some of the Commission’s information “might not be in your lifetime” Here, then, is my first question:Why were all the members of the Warren Commission closely connected with the U.S. Government?

If the composition of the Commission was suspect, its conduct confirmed one’s worst fears. No counsel was permitted to act for Oswald, so that cross-examination was barred. Later, under pressure, the Commission appointed the President of the American Bar Association, Walter Craig, one of the supporters of the Goldwater movement in Arizona, to represent Oswald. To my knowledge, he did not attend hearings, but satisfied himself with representation by observers.

In the name of national security, the Commission’s hearings were held in secret, thereby continuing the policy which has marked the entire course of the case. This prompts my second question: If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security? Indeed, precisely the same question must be put here as was posed in France during the Dreyfus case: If the Government is so certain of its case, why has it conducted all its inquiries in the strictest secrecy?

At the outset the Commission appointed six panels through which it would conduct its enquiry. They considered: (1) What did Oswald do on November 22, 1963? (2) What was Oswald’s background? (3) What did Oswald do in the U.S. Marine Corps, and in the Soviet Union? (4) How did Ruby kill Oswald? (5) What is Ruby’s background? (6) What efforts were taken to protect the President on November 22? This raises my fourth question: Why did the Warren Commission not establish a panel to deal with the question of who killed President Kennedy?

All the evidence given to the Commission has been classified “Top Secret,” including even a request that hearings be held in public. Despite this the Commission itself leaked much of the evidence to the press, though only if the evidence tended to prove Oswald the lone assassin. Thus, Chief Justice Warren held a press conference after Oswald’s wife, Marina, had testified. He said, that she believed her husband was the assassin. Before Oswald’s brother Robert testified, he gained the Commission’s agreement not to comment on what he said. After he had testified for two days, the newspapers were full of stories that “a member of the Commission” had told the press that Robert Oswald had just testified that he believed that his brother was an agent of the Soviet Union. Robert Oswald was outraged by this, and he said that he could not remain silent while lies were told about his testimony. He had never said this and he had never believed it. All that he had told the Commission was that he believed his brother was innocent and was in no way involved in the assassination.

The methods adopted by the Commission have indeed been deplorable, but it is important to challenge the entire role of the Warren Commission. It stated that it would not conduct its own investigation, but rely instead on the existing governmental agencies—the F.B.I., the Secret Service and the Dallas police. Confidence in the Warren Commission thus presupposes confidence in these three institutions. Why have so many liberals abandoned their own responsibility to a Commission whose circumstances they refuse to examine?

It is known that the strictest and most elaborate security precautions ever taken for a President of the United States were ordered for November 22 in Dallas. The city had a reputation for violence and was the home of some of the most extreme right-wing fanatics in America. Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson had been assailed there in 1960 when he was a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked when he spoke in the city only a month before Kennedy’s visit. On the morning of November 22, the Dallas Morning News carried a full-page advertisement associating the President with Communism. The city was covered with posters showing the President’s picture and headed “Wanted for Treason.” The Dallas list of subversives comprised 23 names, of which Oswald’s was the first. All of them were followed that day, except Oswald. Why did the authorities follow many persons as potential assassins and fail to observe Oswald’s entry into the book depository building while allegedly carrying a rifle over three feet long?

The President’s route for his drive through Dallas was widely known and was printed in the Dallas Morning News on November 22. At the last minute the Secret Service changed a small part of their plans so that the President left Main Street and turned into Houston and Elm Streets. This alteration took the President past the book depository building from which it is alleged that Oswald shot him. How Oswald is supposed to have known of this change has never been explained.Why was the President’s route changed at the last minute to take him past Oswald’s place of work?

After the assassination and Oswald’s arrest, judgment was pronounced swiftly: Oswald was the assassin, and he had acted alone. No attempt was made to arrest others, no road blocks were set up round the area, and every piece of evidence which tended to incriminate Oswald was announced to the press by the Dallas District Attorney, Mr. Wade. In such a way millions of people were prejudiced against Oswald before there was any opportunity for him to be brought to trial. The first theory announced by the authorities was that the President’s car was in Houston Street, approaching the book depository building, when Oswald opened fire. When available photographs and eyewitnesses had shown this to be quite untrue, the theory was abandoned and a new one formulated which placed the vehicle in its correct position. Meanwhile, however, D.A. Wade had announced that three days after Oswald’s room in Dallas had been searched, a map had been found there on which the book depository building had been circled and dotted lines drawn from the building to a vehicle on Houston Street, showing the alleged bullet trajectory had been planned in advance. After the first theory was proved false, the Associated Press put out the following story on November 27: “Dallas authorities announced today that there never was a map.”

The second theory correctly placed the President’s car on Elm Street, 50 to 75 yards past the book depository, but had to contend with the difficulty that the President was shot from the front, in the throat. How did Oswald manage to shoot the President in the front from behind? The F.B.I. held a series of background briefing sessions for Life magazine, which in its issue of December 6 explained that the President had turned completely round just at the time he was shot. This too, was soon shown to be entirely false. It was denied by several witnesses and films, and the previous issue of Life itself had shown the President looking forward as he was hit. Theory number two was abandoned.

In order to retain the basis of all official thinking, that Oswald was the lone assassin, it now became necessary to construct a third theory with the medical evidence altered to fit it. For the first month no Secret Service agent had ever spoken to the three doctors who had tried to save Kennedy’s life in the Parkland Memorial Hospital. Now two agents spent three hours with the doctors and persuaded them that they were all misinformed: the entrance wound in the President’s throat had been an exit wound, and the bullet had not ranged down towards the lungs. Asked by the press how they could have been so mistaken, Dr. McClelland advanced two reasons: they had not seen the autopsy report—and they had not known that Oswald was behind the President! The autopsy report, they had been told by the Secret Service, showed that Kennedy had been shot from behind. The agents, however, had refused to show the report to the doctors, who were entirely dependent on the word of the Secret Service for this suggestion. The doctors made it clear that they were not permitted to discuss the case. The third theory, with the medical evidence rewritten, remains the basis of the case against Oswald at this moment. Why has the medical evidence concerning the President’s death been altered out of recognition?

Although Oswald is alleged to have shot the President from behind, there are many witnesses who are confident that the shots came from the front. Among them are two reporters from the Forth Worth Star Telegram, four from the Dallas Morning News, and two people who were standing in front of the book depository building itself, the director of the book depository and the vice-president of the firm. It appears that only two people immediately entered the building: the director, Mr. Roy S. Truly, and a Dallas police officer, Seymour Weitzman. Both thought that the shots had come from in front of the President’s vehicle. On first running in that direction, Weitzman was informed by “someone” that he thought the shots had come from the building, so he rushed back there. Truly entered with him in order to assist with his knowledge of the building. Mr. Jesse Curry, the Chief of Police in Dallas, has stated that he was immediately convinced that the shots came from the building. If anyone else believes this, he has been reluctant to say so to date. It is also known that the first bulletin to go out on Dallas police radios stated that “the shots came from a triple overpass in front of the presidential automobile.” In addition, there is the consideration that after the first shot the vehicle was brought almost to a halt by the trained Secret Service driver, an unlikely response if the shots had indeed come from behind. Certainly Mr. Roy Kellerman, who was in charge of the Secret Service operation in Dallas that day, and travelled in the presidential car, looked to the front as the shots were fired. The Secret Service has had all the evidence removed from the car, so it is no longer possible to examine it. What is the evidence to substantiate the allegation that the President was shot from behind?

Photographs taken at the scene of the crime could be most helpful. One young lady standing just to the left of the presidential car as the shots were fired took photographs of the vehicle just before and during the shooting, and was thus able to get into her picture the entire front of the book depository building. Two F.B.I. agents immediately took the film which she took. Why has the F.B.I. refused to publish what could be the most reliable piece of evidence in the whole case?

In this connection it is noteworthy also that it is impossible to obtain the originals of photographs bearing upon the case. When Time magazine published a photograph of Oswald’s arrest—the only one ever seen—the entire background was blacked out for reasons which have never been explained. It is difficult to recall an occasion for so much falsification of photographs as has happened in the Oswald case.

The affidavit by Police Office Weitzman, who entered the book depository building, stated that he found the alleged murder rifle on the sixth floor. (It was first announced that the rifle had been found on the fifth floor, but this was soon altered.) It was a German 7.65 mm. Mauser. Late the following day, the F.B.I. issued its first proclamation. Oswald had purchased in March 1963 an Italian 6.5 mm. Mannlicher-Carcano. D.A. Wade immediately altered the nationality and size of the weapon to conform to the F.B.I. statement.

Several photographs have been published of the alleged murder weapon. On February 21,Life magazine carried on its cover a picture of “Lee Oswald with the weapons he used to kill President Kennedy and Officer Tippitt [sic].” On page 80, Life explained that the photograph was taken during March or April of 1963. According to the F.B.I., Oswald purchased his pistol in September 1963.The New York Times carried a picture of the alleged murder weapon being taken by police into the Dallas police station. The rifle is quite different. Experts have stated that no rifle resembling the one in the Life picture has even been manufactured. The New York Times also carried the same photograph as Life, but left out the telescopic sights. On March 2, Newsweek used the same photograph but painted in an entirely new rifle. Then on April 13 the Latin American edition of Life carried the same picture on its cover as the U.S. edition had on February 21, but in the same issue on page 18 it had the same picture with the rifle altered. How is it that millions of people have been misled by complete forgeries in the press?

The authorities interrogated Oswald for nearly 48 hours without allowing him to contact a lawyer, despite his repeated requests to do so. The director of the F.B.I. in Dallas was a man with considerable experience. American Civil Liberties Union lawyers were in Dallas requesting to see Oswald and were not allowed to do so. By interrogating Oswald for 48 hours without access to lawyers, the F.B.I. created conditions which made a trial of Oswald more difficult. A confession or evidence obtained from a man held 48 hours in custody is likely to be inadmissible in a U.S. court of law. The F.B.I. director conducted his interrogation in a manner which made the use of material secured in such a fashion worthless to him. This raises the question of whether he expected the trial to take place.

Another falsehood concerning the shooting was a story circulated by the Associated Press on November 23 from Los Angeles. This reported Oswald’s former superior officer in the Marine Corps as saying that Oswald was a crack shot and a hot-head. The story was published widely. Three hours later AP sent out a correction deleting the entire story from Los Angeles. The officer had checked his records and it had turned out that he was talking about another man. He had never known Oswald. To my knowledge the correction has yet to be published by a single major publication.

The Dallas police took a paraffin test on Oswald’s face and hands to try to establish that he had fired a weapon on November 22. The Chief of the Dallas Police, Jesse Curry, announced on November 23 that the result of the test “proves Oswald is the assassin.” The Director of the F.B.I. in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in charge of the investigation stated: “I have seen the paraffin test. The paraffin test proves that Oswald had nitrates and gunpowder on his hands and face. It proves he fired a rifle on November 22.” Not only does this unreliable test not prove any such thing, it was later discovered that the test on Oswald’s face was in fact negative, suggesting that it was unlikely he fired a rifle that day. Why was the result of the paraffin test altered before being announced by the authorities?

Oswald, it will be recalled, was originally arrested and charged with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt [sic]. Tippitt was killed at 1:06 p.m. on November 22 by a man who first engaged him in conversation, then caused him to get out of the stationary police car in which he was sitting and shot him with a pistol Miss Helen L. Markham, who states that she is the sole eye-witness to this crime, gave the Dallas police a description of the assailant. After signing her affidavit, she was instructed by the F.B.I., the Secret Service and many police officers that she was not permitted to discuss the case with anyone. The affidavit’s only description of the killer was that he was a “young white man.” Miss Markham later revealed that the killer had run right up to her and past her, brandishing the pistol, and she repeated the description of the murderer which she had given to the police. He was, she said, “short, a little heavy, and had somewhat bushy hair.” (The police description of Oswald was that he was of average height, or a little taller, was slim and had receding fair hair.) Miss Markham’s affidavit is the entire case against Oswald for the murder of Patrolman Tippitt, yet District Attorney Wade asserted: “We have more evidence to prove Oswald killed Tippit than we have to show he killed the President.” The case against Oswald for the murder of Tippitt, he continued, was an absolutely strong case. Why was the only description of Tippitt’s killer deliberately omitted by the police from the affidavit of the sole eye-witness?

Oswald’s description was broadcast by the Dallas police only 12 minutes after the President was shot. This raises one of the most extraordinary questions ever posed in a murder case: Why was Oswald’s description in connection with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt broadcast over Dallas police radio at 12:43 p.m. on November 22, when Tippitt was not shot until 1:06 p.m.?

According to Mr. Bob Considine, writing in the New York Journal American, there had been another person who had heard the shots that were fired at Tippitt. Warren Reynolds had heard shooting in the street from a nearby room and had rushed to the window to see the murderer run off. Reynolds himself was later shot through the head by a rifleman. A man was arrested for this crime but produced an alibi. His girl-friend, Betty Mooney McDonald, told the police she had been with him at the time Reynolds was shot, according to Mr. Considine. The Dallas police immediately dropped the charges, even before Reynolds had time to recover consciousness, and attempt to identify his assailant. The man at once disappeared, and two days later the police arrested Betty Mooney McDonald on a minor charge and it was announced that she had hanged herself in the police cell. She had been a striptease artist in Jack Ruby’s nightclub, according to Mr. Considine.

Another witness to receive extraordinary treatment in the Oswald case was his wife, Marina. She was taken to the jail while her husband was still alive and shown a rifle by Chief of Police Jesse Curry. Asked if it were Oswald’s, she replied that she believed Oswald had a rifle but that it didn’t look like that. She and her mother-in-law were in great danger following the assassination because of the threat of public revenge on them. At this time they were unable to obtain a single police officer to protect them. Immediately after Oswald was killed, however, the Secret service illegally held both women against their will. After three days they were separated and Marina has never again been accessible to the public. Held in custody for nine weeks and questioned almost daily by the F.B.I. and Secret Service, she finally testified to the Warren Commission and, according to Earl Warren, said that she believed her husband was the assassin. The Chief Justice added that the next day they intended to show Mrs. Oswald the murder weapon and the Commission was fairly confident that she would identify it as her husband’s. The following day it was announced that this had indeed happened. Mrs. Oswald, we are informed, is still in the custody of the Secret Service. To isolate a witness for nine weeks and to subject her to repeated questioning by the Secret Service in this manner is reminiscent of police behavior in other countries, where it is called brainwashing. The only witness produced to show that Oswald carried a rifle before the assassination stated that he saw a brown paper parcel about two feet long in the back seat of Oswald’s car. The rifle which the police “produced” was almost 3½ feet long.How was it possible for Earl Warren to forecast that Marina Oswald’s evidence would be exactly the reverse of what she had previously testified?

After Ruby had killed Oswald, D.A. Wade made a statement about Oswald’s movements following the assassination. He explained that Oswald had taken a bus, but he described the point at which Oswald had entered the vehicle as seven blocks away from the point located by the bus driver in his affidavit. Oswald, Wade continued, then took a taxi driven by a Daryll Click, who had signed an affidavit. An inquiry at the City Transportation Company revealed that no such taxi driver had ever existed in Dallas. Presented with this evidence, Wade altered the driver’s name to William Whaley. The driver’s log book showed that a man answering Oswald’s description had been picked up at 12:30. The President was shot at 12:31. D.A. Wade made no mention of this. Wade has been D.A. in Dallas for 14 years and before that was an F.B.I. agent.How does a District Attorney of Wade’s great experience account for all the extraordinary changes in evidence and testimony which he has announced during the Oswald case?

These are only a few of the questions raised by the official versions of the assassination and by the way in which the entire case against Oswald has been conducted. Sixteen questions are no substitute for a full examination of all the factors in this case, but I hope that they indicate the importance of such an investigation. I am indebted to Mr. Mark Lane, the New York criminal lawyer who was appointed counsel for Oswald by his mother, for much of the information in this article. Mr. Lane’s enquiries, which are continuing, deserve widespread support. A Citizen’s Committee of Inquiry has been established in New York, at Room 422, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York. N.Y. (telephone YU9-6850) for such a purpose, and comparable committees are being set up in Europe.

In Britain, I invited people eminent in the intellectual life of the country to join a “Who Killed Kennedy Committee,” which at the moment of writing consists of the following people: Mr. John Arden, playwright; Mrs. Carolyn Wedgwood Benn, from Cincinnati, wife of Anthony Wedgwood Benn, M.P.; Lord Boyd-Orr, former director-general of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and a Nobel Peace Prize winner; Mr. John Calder, publisher; Professor William Empsom, Professor of English Literature at Sheffield University; Mr. Victor Golancz, publisher; Mr. Michael Foot, Member of Parliament; Mr. Kingsley Martin, former editor of the New Statesman; Sir Compton Mackenzie, writer; Mr. J.B. Priestley, playwright and author; Sir Herbert Read, art critic; Mr. Tony Richardson, film director; Dr. Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark; Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University; Mr. Kenneth Tynan, Literary Manager of the National Theatre; and myself.

We view the problem with the utmost seriousness. U.S. Embassies have long ago reported to Washington world-wide disbelief in the official charges against Oswald, but this has scarcely been reflected by the American press. No U.S. television program or mass circulation newspaper has challenged the permanent basis of all the allegations—that Oswald was the assassin, and that he acted alone. It is a task which is left to the American people.

http://www.solstice.us/russell/16questions.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell

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This is Russell at his best - clear, wise and persuasive.

I first read 16 Questions about four years ago, at which time I was still trying to figure out who was right - the 'lone assassin' squad or the conspiracy theorists.

I found his piece particularly persuasive at it showed that shrewd folk who spent the necessary time looking into the matter could see the Emperor was naked in the early months of the assassination coverup.

This led me to look further at how such voices were brushed aside - and by whom.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 years later...
The Bertrand Russell Archives are available at: http://www.mcmaster.ca/russdocs/russell.htm There is material on the "Who Killed Kennedy Committee" which is available through the mail for anyone willing to pay copy costs. As I recall it ran to about $100.

Welshman changed the Beatles, says McCartney

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-ne...91466-22476615/

Dec 15 2008 by Darren Devine, Western Mail

JOHN LENNON has long been credited with giving the Beatles their firebrand political edge through such classics as Revolution and Give Peace A Chance.

But in a challenge to the prevailing view, Sir Paul McCartney has now thanked a renowned Welsh philosopher for changing the band’s musical direction in a move that forever altered the history of pop.

The songwriting legend says his eyes were opened to the tumultuous political scene of the late 1960s following a meeting with Monmouthshire-born Bertrand Russell.

Speaking of the band’s eventual change of direction from loveable mop-tops to rock revolutionaries, McCartney said: “We sort of stumbled into things.

“For instance, Vietnam. Just when we were getting to be well known, someone said to me: ‘Bertrand Russell is living not far from here in Chelsea, why don’t you go and see him?’ and so I just took a taxi down there and knocked on the door.

“He was fabulous. He told me about the Vietnam war — most of us didn’t know about it, it wasn’t yet in the papers — and also that it was a very bad war.

“I remember going back to the studio either that evening or the next day and telling the guys, particularly John, about this meeting and saying what a bad war this was.”

McCartney’s interview with intellectual journal Prospect magazine, to be published this week, has already sparked controversy for suggesting it was himself rather than Lennon who politicised the band, as a direct result of his meeting with Russell.

The philosopher, from Trellech, near Monmouth, is one of the 20th century’s most revered philosophers, who went to jail for his pacifism during World War I.

Before his death in 1970 aged 97 he was also a supporter of free-trade and a vocal critic of imperialism, Hitler and the Soviet Union.

His seminal work A History of Western Philosophy and writings on humanitarianism and freedom of thought saw him win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.

McCartney also detailed how the band had spoken out against Vietnam during a tour of the US, and that the “political megaphone” has since been passed on to the likes of Bono and Bob Geldof.

He adds: “People often say to me, ‘Do you think music can change the world?’ and I do, on a lot of levels, and one of those levels is just the fact that famous musicians are listened to.

“Perhaps in terms of responsibility we did sow some seeds for people who came after. People like [bob] Geldof, Bono, people who have the (political) megaphone now.”

However Alan Clayson, who has written separate biographies of all four Beatles, took issue with McCartney’s claims.

Much of the band’s later political work like Revolution was written by Lennon – and though Give Peace A Chance was credited to Lennon/McCartney, it was widely seen as essentially a solo effort from John.

Mr Clayson said: “I think Sir Paul is rewriting history, now that Lennon is gone.”

Steven Howard, lead singer with Liverpool tribute act the Mersey Beatles, said the band’s members had a massive influence on each other and Paul’s claims may have some credence.

But he said the first political song was penned by neither Lennon nor McCartney, but George Harrison.

The guitarist’s Taxman was an attack on the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s introduction of a 95% tax bracket for the nation’s biggest earners.

Mr Howard, from Liverpool, said: “All four of them, because they were so close and spent so much time together, did have an influence on each other.

“And Lennon may not have written Revolution as a solo artist, but because he had the power of the Beatles he was able to do it.

“I think what McCartney’s probably getting at is that he was an enabler – he was the first to have conversations and meetings with people.”

But Howard said after the band split in 1970 Lennon’s output became more intensely political than his former collaborator’s, though McCartney did pen Give Ireland Back to the Irish in 1972.

Mr Howard added: “What McCartney did was make his little statements and then go and make some pop records to sell and that was his thing.

“Whereas Lennon in the early ’70s got really politicised and just became a voice for groups like Power to the People.

“He was even writing records for people who had been jailed unfairly.”

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16 Questions on the Assassination

By Bertrand Russell

The Minority of One, 6 September 1964, pp. 6-8

This article was published in the September 1964 issue of M.S. Arnoni’s The Minority of One.

The official version of the assassination of President Kennedy has been so riddled with contradictions that it is been abandoned and rewritten no less than three times. Blatant fabrications have received very widespread coverage by the mass media, but denials of these same lies have gone unpublished.

Photographs, evidence and affidavits have been doctored out of recognition. Some of the most important aspects of the case against Lee Harvey Oswald have been completely blacked out. Meanwhile, the F.B.I., the police and the Secret Service have tried to silence key witnesses or instruct them what evidence to give. Others involved have disappeared or died in extraordinary circumstances.

It is facts such as these that demand attention, and which the Warren Commission should have regarded as vital. Although I am writing before the publication of the Warren Commission’s report, leaks to the press have made much of its contents predictable. Because of the high office of its members and the fact of its establishment by President Johnson, the Commission has been widely regarded as a body of holy men appointed to pronounce the truth. An impartial examination of the composition and conduct of the Commission suggests quite otherwise.

The Warren Commission has been utterly unrepresentative of the American people. It consisted of two Democrats, Senator Russell of Georgia and Congressman Boggs of Louisiana, both of whose racist views have brought shame on the United States; two Republicans, Senator Cooper of Kentucky and Congressman Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, the latter of whom is a leader of his local Goldwater movement and an associate of the F.B.I.; Allen Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Mr. McCloy, who has been referred to as the spokesman for the business community. Leadership of the filibuster in the Senate against the Civil Rights Bill prevented Senator Russell from attending hearings during the period. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Earl Warren, who rightly commands respect, was finally persuaded, much against his will, to preside over the Commission, and it was his involvement above all else that helped lend the Commission an aura of legality and authority. Yet many of its members were also members of those very groups which have done so much to distort and suppress the facts about the assassination. Because of their connection with the Government, not one member would have been permitted under U.S. law to serve on a jury had Oswald faced trial. It is small wonder that the Chief Justice himself remarked that the release of some of the Commission’s information “might not be in your lifetime” Here, then, is my first question:Why were all the members of the Warren Commission closely connected with the U.S. Government?

If the composition of the Commission was suspect, its conduct confirmed one’s worst fears. No counsel was permitted to act for Oswald, so that cross-examination was barred. Later, under pressure, the Commission appointed the President of the American Bar Association, Walter Craig, one of the supporters of the Goldwater movement in Arizona, to represent Oswald. To my knowledge, he did not attend hearings, but satisfied himself with representation by observers.

In the name of national security, the Commission’s hearings were held in secret, thereby continuing the policy which has marked the entire course of the case. This prompts my second question: If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security? Indeed, precisely the same question must be put here as was posed in France during the Dreyfus case: If the Government is so certain of its case, why has it conducted all its inquiries in the strictest secrecy?

At the outset the Commission appointed six panels through which it would conduct its enquiry. They considered: (1) What did Oswald do on November 22, 1963? (2) What was Oswald’s background? (3) What did Oswald do in the U.S. Marine Corps, and in the Soviet Union? (4) How did Ruby kill Oswald? (5) What is Ruby’s background? (6) What efforts were taken to protect the President on November 22? This raises my fourth question: Why did the Warren Commission not establish a panel to deal with the question of who killed President Kennedy?

All the evidence given to the Commission has been classified “Top Secret,” including even a request that hearings be held in public. Despite this the Commission itself leaked much of the evidence to the press, though only if the evidence tended to prove Oswald the lone assassin. Thus, Chief Justice Warren held a press conference after Oswald’s wife, Marina, had testified. He said, that she believed her husband was the assassin. Before Oswald’s brother Robert testified, he gained the Commission’s agreement not to comment on what he said. After he had testified for two days, the newspapers were full of stories that “a member of the Commission” had told the press that Robert Oswald had just testified that he believed that his brother was an agent of the Soviet Union. Robert Oswald was outraged by this, and he said that he could not remain silent while lies were told about his testimony. He had never said this and he had never believed it. All that he had told the Commission was that he believed his brother was innocent and was in no way involved in the assassination.

The methods adopted by the Commission have indeed been deplorable, but it is important to challenge the entire role of the Warren Commission. It stated that it would not conduct its own investigation, but rely instead on the existing governmental agencies—the F.B.I., the Secret Service and the Dallas police. Confidence in the Warren Commission thus presupposes confidence in these three institutions. Why have so many liberals abandoned their own responsibility to a Commission whose circumstances they refuse to examine?

It is known that the strictest and most elaborate security precautions ever taken for a President of the United States were ordered for November 22 in Dallas. The city had a reputation for violence and was the home of some of the most extreme right-wing fanatics in America. Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson had been assailed there in 1960 when he was a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked when he spoke in the city only a month before Kennedy’s visit. On the morning of November 22, the Dallas Morning News carried a full-page advertisement associating the President with Communism. The city was covered with posters showing the President’s picture and headed “Wanted for Treason.” The Dallas list of subversives comprised 23 names, of which Oswald’s was the first. All of them were followed that day, except Oswald. Why did the authorities follow many persons as potential assassins and fail to observe Oswald’s entry into the book depository building while allegedly carrying a rifle over three feet long?

The President’s route for his drive through Dallas was widely known and was printed in the Dallas Morning News on November 22. At the last minute the Secret Service changed a small part of their plans so that the President left Main Street and turned into Houston and Elm Streets. This alteration took the President past the book depository building from which it is alleged that Oswald shot him. How Oswald is supposed to have known of this change has never been explained.Why was the President’s route changed at the last minute to take him past Oswald’s place of work?

After the assassination and Oswald’s arrest, judgment was pronounced swiftly: Oswald was the assassin, and he had acted alone. No attempt was made to arrest others, no road blocks were set up round the area, and every piece of evidence which tended to incriminate Oswald was announced to the press by the Dallas District Attorney, Mr. Wade. In such a way millions of people were prejudiced against Oswald before there was any opportunity for him to be brought to trial. The first theory announced by the authorities was that the President’s car was in Houston Street, approaching the book depository building, when Oswald opened fire. When available photographs and eyewitnesses had shown this to be quite untrue, the theory was abandoned and a new one formulated which placed the vehicle in its correct position. Meanwhile, however, D.A. Wade had announced that three days after Oswald’s room in Dallas had been searched, a map had been found there on which the book depository building had been circled and dotted lines drawn from the building to a vehicle on Houston Street, showing the alleged bullet trajectory had been planned in advance. After the first theory was proved false, the Associated Press put out the following story on November 27: “Dallas authorities announced today that there never was a map.”

The second theory correctly placed the President’s car on Elm Street, 50 to 75 yards past the book depository, but had to contend with the difficulty that the President was shot from the front, in the throat. How did Oswald manage to shoot the President in the front from behind? The F.B.I. held a series of background briefing sessions for Life magazine, which in its issue of December 6 explained that the President had turned completely round just at the time he was shot. This too, was soon shown to be entirely false. It was denied by several witnesses and films, and the previous issue of Life itself had shown the President looking forward as he was hit. Theory number two was abandoned.

In order to retain the basis of all official thinking, that Oswald was the lone assassin, it now became necessary to construct a third theory with the medical evidence altered to fit it. For the first month no Secret Service agent had ever spoken to the three doctors who had tried to save Kennedy’s life in the Parkland Memorial Hospital. Now two agents spent three hours with the doctors and persuaded them that they were all misinformed: the entrance wound in the President’s throat had been an exit wound, and the bullet had not ranged down towards the lungs. Asked by the press how they could have been so mistaken, Dr. McClelland advanced two reasons: they had not seen the autopsy report—and they had not known that Oswald was behind the President! The autopsy report, they had been told by the Secret Service, showed that Kennedy had been shot from behind. The agents, however, had refused to show the report to the doctors, who were entirely dependent on the word of the Secret Service for this suggestion. The doctors made it clear that they were not permitted to discuss the case. The third theory, with the medical evidence rewritten, remains the basis of the case against Oswald at this moment. Why has the medical evidence concerning the President’s death been altered out of recognition?

Although Oswald is alleged to have shot the President from behind, there are many witnesses who are confident that the shots came from the front. Among them are two reporters from the Forth Worth Star Telegram, four from the Dallas Morning News, and two people who were standing in front of the book depository building itself, the director of the book depository and the vice-president of the firm. It appears that only two people immediately entered the building: the director, Mr. Roy S. Truly, and a Dallas police officer, Seymour Weitzman. Both thought that the shots had come from in front of the President’s vehicle. On first running in that direction, Weitzman was informed by “someone” that he thought the shots had come from the building, so he rushed back there. Truly entered with him in order to assist with his knowledge of the building. Mr. Jesse Curry, the Chief of Police in Dallas, has stated that he was immediately convinced that the shots came from the building. If anyone else believes this, he has been reluctant to say so to date. It is also known that the first bulletin to go out on Dallas police radios stated that “the shots came from a triple overpass in front of the presidential automobile.” In addition, there is the consideration that after the first shot the vehicle was brought almost to a halt by the trained Secret Service driver, an unlikely response if the shots had indeed come from behind. Certainly Mr. Roy Kellerman, who was in charge of the Secret Service operation in Dallas that day, and travelled in the presidential car, looked to the front as the shots were fired. The Secret Service has had all the evidence removed from the car, so it is no longer possible to examine it. What is the evidence to substantiate the allegation that the President was shot from behind?

Photographs taken at the scene of the crime could be most helpful. One young lady standing just to the left of the presidential car as the shots were fired took photographs of the vehicle just before and during the shooting, and was thus able to get into her picture the entire front of the book depository building. Two F.B.I. agents immediately took the film which she took. Why has the F.B.I. refused to publish what could be the most reliable piece of evidence in the whole case?

In this connection it is noteworthy also that it is impossible to obtain the originals of photographs bearing upon the case. When Time magazine published a photograph of Oswald’s arrest—the only one ever seen—the entire background was blacked out for reasons which have never been explained. It is difficult to recall an occasion for so much falsification of photographs as has happened in the Oswald case.

The affidavit by Police Office Weitzman, who entered the book depository building, stated that he found the alleged murder rifle on the sixth floor. (It was first announced that the rifle had been found on the fifth floor, but this was soon altered.) It was a German 7.65 mm. Mauser. Late the following day, the F.B.I. issued its first proclamation. Oswald had purchased in March 1963 an Italian 6.5 mm. Mannlicher-Carcano. D.A. Wade immediately altered the nationality and size of the weapon to conform to the F.B.I. statement.

Several photographs have been published of the alleged murder weapon. On February 21,Life magazine carried on its cover a picture of “Lee Oswald with the weapons he used to kill President Kennedy and Officer Tippitt [sic].” On page 80, Life explained that the photograph was taken during March or April of 1963. According to the F.B.I., Oswald purchased his pistol in September 1963.The New York Times carried a picture of the alleged murder weapon being taken by police into the Dallas police station. The rifle is quite different. Experts have stated that no rifle resembling the one in the Life picture has even been manufactured. The New York Times also carried the same photograph as Life, but left out the telescopic sights. On March 2, Newsweek used the same photograph but painted in an entirely new rifle. Then on April 13 the Latin American edition of Life carried the same picture on its cover as the U.S. edition had on February 21, but in the same issue on page 18 it had the same picture with the rifle altered. How is it that millions of people have been misled by complete forgeries in the press?

The authorities interrogated Oswald for nearly 48 hours without allowing him to contact a lawyer, despite his repeated requests to do so. The director of the F.B.I. in Dallas was a man with considerable experience. American Civil Liberties Union lawyers were in Dallas requesting to see Oswald and were not allowed to do so. By interrogating Oswald for 48 hours without access to lawyers, the F.B.I. created conditions which made a trial of Oswald more difficult. A confession or evidence obtained from a man held 48 hours in custody is likely to be inadmissible in a U.S. court of law. The F.B.I. director conducted his interrogation in a manner which made the use of material secured in such a fashion worthless to him. This raises the question of whether he expected the trial to take place.

Another falsehood concerning the shooting was a story circulated by the Associated Press on November 23 from Los Angeles. This reported Oswald’s former superior officer in the Marine Corps as saying that Oswald was a crack shot and a hot-head. The story was published widely. Three hours later AP sent out a correction deleting the entire story from Los Angeles. The officer had checked his records and it had turned out that he was talking about another man. He had never known Oswald. To my knowledge the correction has yet to be published by a single major publication.

The Dallas police took a paraffin test on Oswald’s face and hands to try to establish that he had fired a weapon on November 22. The Chief of the Dallas Police, Jesse Curry, announced on November 23 that the result of the test “proves Oswald is the assassin.” The Director of the F.B.I. in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in charge of the investigation stated: “I have seen the paraffin test. The paraffin test proves that Oswald had nitrates and gunpowder on his hands and face. It proves he fired a rifle on November 22.” Not only does this unreliable test not prove any such thing, it was later discovered that the test on Oswald’s face was in fact negative, suggesting that it was unlikely he fired a rifle that day. Why was the result of the paraffin test altered before being announced by the authorities?

Oswald, it will be recalled, was originally arrested and charged with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt [sic]. Tippitt was killed at 1:06 p.m. on November 22 by a man who first engaged him in conversation, then caused him to get out of the stationary police car in which he was sitting and shot him with a pistol Miss Helen L. Markham, who states that she is the sole eye-witness to this crime, gave the Dallas police a description of the assailant. After signing her affidavit, she was instructed by the F.B.I., the Secret Service and many police officers that she was not permitted to discuss the case with anyone. The affidavit’s only description of the killer was that he was a “young white man.” Miss Markham later revealed that the killer had run right up to her and past her, brandishing the pistol, and she repeated the description of the murderer which she had given to the police. He was, she said, “short, a little heavy, and had somewhat bushy hair.” (The police description of Oswald was that he was of average height, or a little taller, was slim and had receding fair hair.) Miss Markham’s affidavit is the entire case against Oswald for the murder of Patrolman Tippitt, yet District Attorney Wade asserted: “We have more evidence to prove Oswald killed Tippit than we have to show he killed the President.” The case against Oswald for the murder of Tippitt, he continued, was an absolutely strong case. Why was the only description of Tippitt’s killer deliberately omitted by the police from the affidavit of the sole eye-witness?

Oswald’s description was broadcast by the Dallas police only 12 minutes after the President was shot. This raises one of the most extraordinary questions ever posed in a murder case: Why was Oswald’s description in connection with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt broadcast over Dallas police radio at 12:43 p.m. on November 22, when Tippitt was not shot until 1:06 p.m.?

According to Mr. Bob Considine, writing in the New York Journal American, there had been another person who had heard the shots that were fired at Tippitt. Warren Reynolds had heard shooting in the street from a nearby room and had rushed to the window to see the murderer run off. Reynolds himself was later shot through the head by a rifleman. A man was arrested for this crime but produced an alibi. His girl-friend, Betty Mooney McDonald, told the police she had been with him at the time Reynolds was shot, according to Mr. Considine. The Dallas police immediately dropped the charges, even before Reynolds had time to recover consciousness, and attempt to identify his assailant. The man at once disappeared, and two days later the police arrested Betty Mooney McDonald on a minor charge and it was announced that she had hanged herself in the police cell. She had been a striptease artist in Jack Ruby’s nightclub, according to Mr. Considine.

Another witness to receive extraordinary treatment in the Oswald case was his wife, Marina. She was taken to the jail while her husband was still alive and shown a rifle by Chief of Police Jesse Curry. Asked if it were Oswald’s, she replied that she believed Oswald had a rifle but that it didn’t look like that. She and her mother-in-law were in great danger following the assassination because of the threat of public revenge on them. At this time they were unable to obtain a single police officer to protect them. Immediately after Oswald was killed, however, the Secret service illegally held both women against their will. After three days they were separated and Marina has never again been accessible to the public. Held in custody for nine weeks and questioned almost daily by the F.B.I. and Secret Service, she finally testified to the Warren Commission and, according to Earl Warren, said that she believed her husband was the assassin. The Chief Justice added that the next day they intended to show Mrs. Oswald the murder weapon and the Commission was fairly confident that she would identify it as her husband’s. The following day it was announced that this had indeed happened. Mrs. Oswald, we are informed, is still in the custody of the Secret Service. To isolate a witness for nine weeks and to subject her to repeated questioning by the Secret Service in this manner is reminiscent of police behavior in other countries, where it is called brainwashing. The only witness produced to show that Oswald carried a rifle before the assassination stated that he saw a brown paper parcel about two feet long in the back seat of Oswald’s car. The rifle which the police “produced” was almost 3½ feet long.How was it possible for Earl Warren to forecast that Marina Oswald’s evidence would be exactly the reverse of what she had previously testified?

After Ruby had killed Oswald, D.A. Wade made a statement about Oswald’s movements following the assassination. He explained that Oswald had taken a bus, but he described the point at which Oswald had entered the vehicle as seven blocks away from the point located by the bus driver in his affidavit. Oswald, Wade continued, then took a taxi driven by a Daryll Click, who had signed an affidavit. An inquiry at the City Transportation Company revealed that no such taxi driver had ever existed in Dallas. Presented with this evidence, Wade altered the driver’s name to William Whaley. The driver’s log book showed that a man answering Oswald’s description had been picked up at 12:30. The President was shot at 12:31. D.A. Wade made no mention of this. Wade has been D.A. in Dallas for 14 years and before that was an F.B.I. agent.How does a District Attorney of Wade’s great experience account for all the extraordinary changes in evidence and testimony which he has announced during the Oswald case?

These are only a few of the questions raised by the official versions of the assassination and by the way in which the entire case against Oswald has been conducted. Sixteen questions are no substitute for a full examination of all the factors in this case, but I hope that they indicate the importance of such an investigation. I am indebted to Mr. Mark Lane, the New York criminal lawyer who was appointed counsel for Oswald by his mother, for much of the information in this article. Mr. Lane’s enquiries, which are continuing, deserve widespread support. A Citizen’s Committee of Inquiry has been established in New York, at Room 422, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York. N.Y. (telephone YU9-6850) for such a purpose, and comparable committees are being set up in Europe.

In Britain, I invited people eminent in the intellectual life of the country to join a “Who Killed Kennedy Committee,” which at the moment of writing consists of the following people: Mr. John Arden, playwright; Mrs. Carolyn Wedgwood Benn, from Cincinnati, wife of Anthony Wedgwood Benn, M.P.; Lord Boyd-Orr, former director-general of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and a Nobel Peace Prize winner; Mr. John Calder, publisher; Professor William Empsom, Professor of English Literature at Sheffield University; Mr. Victor Golancz, publisher; Mr. Michael Foot, Member of Parliament; Mr. Kingsley Martin, former editor of the New Statesman; Sir Compton Mackenzie, writer; Mr. J.B. Priestley, playwright and author; Sir Herbert Read, art critic; Mr. Tony Richardson, film director; Dr. Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark; Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University; Mr. Kenneth Tynan, Literary Manager of the National Theatre; and myself.

We view the problem with the utmost seriousness. U.S. Embassies have long ago reported to Washington world-wide disbelief in the official charges against Oswald, but this has scarcely been reflected by the American press. No U.S. television program or mass circulation newspaper has challenged the permanent basis of all the allegations—that Oswald was the assassin, and that he acted alone. It is a task which is left to the American people.

http://www.solstice.us/russell/16questions.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell

I read this article and, for its time, it turned out to be rather prescient.

Has anyone on the forum ever done a point by point confirmation/refutation of Russell's points?

He raises some issues that I don't believe I have seen addressed in other sources.

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Guest James H. Fetzer

Egad! Since I included Russell's essay as the Epilogue to MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000) and provided a complement in the Prologue with sixteen "'Smoking Guns' in the Death of JFK", the fact of the matter is that his sixteen questions are strengthened by the sixteen refutation of the official account. What troubles me is that this book has been around for nearly ten years, yet no one on this thread has observed that its significance had been recognized and paid homage by its inclusion along with scientific studies of the medical evidence by David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., and by Gary Aguilar, M.D., a chronology of the events of 22 November 2009 by Ira David Wood III, studies of the Secret Service, of witnesses to the limo stop, and of the windshield shot by Vince Palamara and Doug Weldon, J.D., of photographic fakery by Jack White and my own on whether Oswald could have been convicted of the crime as well as two studies from Doug Horne on the occurrence of two supplemental brain examinations and about a home movie of the assassination that brought to the NPIC for Homer McMahon to review as well as Russell's essay. Maybe some of you need to read it. Where would we be today if those on this forum had actually read (what Vincent Bugliosi has described as) the only three "exclusively scientific" books ever published on the assassination--to which I would add David Lifton's BEST EVIDENCE (1980)? I am very disturbed to learn that Schoenman is married to Joan Mellen, whose conduct at the Washington press conference all but sabotaged its effectiveness. That bothers me tremendously.

16 Questions on the Assassination

By Bertrand Russell

The Minority of One, 6 September 1964, pp. 6-8

This article was published in the September 1964 issue of M.S. Arnoni’s The Minority of One.

The official version of the assassination of President Kennedy has been so riddled with contradictions that it is been abandoned and rewritten no less than three times. Blatant fabrications have received very widespread coverage by the mass media, but denials of these same lies have gone unpublished.

Photographs, evidence and affidavits have been doctored out of recognition. Some of the most important aspects of the case against Lee Harvey Oswald have been completely blacked out. Meanwhile, the F.B.I., the police and the Secret Service have tried to silence key witnesses or instruct them what evidence to give. Others involved have disappeared or died in extraordinary circumstances.

It is facts such as these that demand attention, and which the Warren Commission should have regarded as vital. Although I am writing before the publication of the Warren Commission’s report, leaks to the press have made much of its contents predictable. Because of the high office of its members and the fact of its establishment by President Johnson, the Commission has been widely regarded as a body of holy men appointed to pronounce the truth. An impartial examination of the composition and conduct of the Commission suggests quite otherwise.

The Warren Commission has been utterly unrepresentative of the American people. It consisted of two Democrats, Senator Russell of Georgia and Congressman Boggs of Louisiana, both of whose racist views have brought shame on the United States; two Republicans, Senator Cooper of Kentucky and Congressman Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, the latter of whom is a leader of his local Goldwater movement and an associate of the F.B.I.; Allen Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Mr. McCloy, who has been referred to as the spokesman for the business community. Leadership of the filibuster in the Senate against the Civil Rights Bill prevented Senator Russell from attending hearings during the period. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Earl Warren, who rightly commands respect, was finally persuaded, much against his will, to preside over the Commission, and it was his involvement above all else that helped lend the Commission an aura of legality and authority. Yet many of its members were also members of those very groups which have done so much to distort and suppress the facts about the assassination. Because of their connection with the Government, not one member would have been permitted under U.S. law to serve on a jury had Oswald faced trial. It is small wonder that the Chief Justice himself remarked that the release of some of the Commission’s information “might not be in your lifetime” Here, then, is my first question:Why were all the members of the Warren Commission closely connected with the U.S. Government?

If the composition of the Commission was suspect, its conduct confirmed one’s worst fears. No counsel was permitted to act for Oswald, so that cross-examination was barred. Later, under pressure, the Commission appointed the President of the American Bar Association, Walter Craig, one of the supporters of the Goldwater movement in Arizona, to represent Oswald. To my knowledge, he did not attend hearings, but satisfied himself with representation by observers.

In the name of national security, the Commission’s hearings were held in secret, thereby continuing the policy which has marked the entire course of the case. This prompts my second question: If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security? Indeed, precisely the same question must be put here as was posed in France during the Dreyfus case: If the Government is so certain of its case, why has it conducted all its inquiries in the strictest secrecy?

At the outset the Commission appointed six panels through which it would conduct its enquiry. They considered: (1) What did Oswald do on November 22, 1963? (2) What was Oswald’s background? (3) What did Oswald do in the U.S. Marine Corps, and in the Soviet Union? (4) How did Ruby kill Oswald? (5) What is Ruby’s background? (6) What efforts were taken to protect the President on November 22? This raises my fourth question: Why did the Warren Commission not establish a panel to deal with the question of who killed President Kennedy?

All the evidence given to the Commission has been classified “Top Secret,” including even a request that hearings be held in public. Despite this the Commission itself leaked much of the evidence to the press, though only if the evidence tended to prove Oswald the lone assassin. Thus, Chief Justice Warren held a press conference after Oswald’s wife, Marina, had testified. He said, that she believed her husband was the assassin. Before Oswald’s brother Robert testified, he gained the Commission’s agreement not to comment on what he said. After he had testified for two days, the newspapers were full of stories that “a member of the Commission” had told the press that Robert Oswald had just testified that he believed that his brother was an agent of the Soviet Union. Robert Oswald was outraged by this, and he said that he could not remain silent while lies were told about his testimony. He had never said this and he had never believed it. All that he had told the Commission was that he believed his brother was innocent and was in no way involved in the assassination.

The methods adopted by the Commission have indeed been deplorable, but it is important to challenge the entire role of the Warren Commission. It stated that it would not conduct its own investigation, but rely instead on the existing governmental agencies—the F.B.I., the Secret Service and the Dallas police. Confidence in the Warren Commission thus presupposes confidence in these three institutions. Why have so many liberals abandoned their own responsibility to a Commission whose circumstances they refuse to examine?

It is known that the strictest and most elaborate security precautions ever taken for a President of the United States were ordered for November 22 in Dallas. The city had a reputation for violence and was the home of some of the most extreme right-wing fanatics in America. Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson had been assailed there in 1960 when he was a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked when he spoke in the city only a month before Kennedy’s visit. On the morning of November 22, the Dallas Morning News carried a full-page advertisement associating the President with Communism. The city was covered with posters showing the President’s picture and headed “Wanted for Treason.” The Dallas list of subversives comprised 23 names, of which Oswald’s was the first. All of them were followed that day, except Oswald. Why did the authorities follow many persons as potential assassins and fail to observe Oswald’s entry into the book depository building while allegedly carrying a rifle over three feet long?

The President’s route for his drive through Dallas was widely known and was printed in the Dallas Morning News on November 22. At the last minute the Secret Service changed a small part of their plans so that the President left Main Street and turned into Houston and Elm Streets. This alteration took the President past the book depository building from which it is alleged that Oswald shot him. How Oswald is supposed to have known of this change has never been explained.Why was the President’s route changed at the last minute to take him past Oswald’s place of work?

After the assassination and Oswald’s arrest, judgment was pronounced swiftly: Oswald was the assassin, and he had acted alone. No attempt was made to arrest others, no road blocks were set up round the area, and every piece of evidence which tended to incriminate Oswald was announced to the press by the Dallas District Attorney, Mr. Wade. In such a way millions of people were prejudiced against Oswald before there was any opportunity for him to be brought to trial. The first theory announced by the authorities was that the President’s car was in Houston Street, approaching the book depository building, when Oswald opened fire. When available photographs and eyewitnesses had shown this to be quite untrue, the theory was abandoned and a new one formulated which placed the vehicle in its correct position. Meanwhile, however, D.A. Wade had announced that three days after Oswald’s room in Dallas had been searched, a map had been found there on which the book depository building had been circled and dotted lines drawn from the building to a vehicle on Houston Street, showing the alleged bullet trajectory had been planned in advance. After the first theory was proved false, the Associated Press put out the following story on November 27: “Dallas authorities announced today that there never was a map.”

The second theory correctly placed the President’s car on Elm Street, 50 to 75 yards past the book depository, but had to contend with the difficulty that the President was shot from the front, in the throat. How did Oswald manage to shoot the President in the front from behind? The F.B.I. held a series of background briefing sessions for Life magazine, which in its issue of December 6 explained that the President had turned completely round just at the time he was shot. This too, was soon shown to be entirely false. It was denied by several witnesses and films, and the previous issue of Life itself had shown the President looking forward as he was hit. Theory number two was abandoned.

In order to retain the basis of all official thinking, that Oswald was the lone assassin, it now became necessary to construct a third theory with the medical evidence altered to fit it. For the first month no Secret Service agent had ever spoken to the three doctors who had tried to save Kennedy’s life in the Parkland Memorial Hospital. Now two agents spent three hours with the doctors and persuaded them that they were all misinformed: the entrance wound in the President’s throat had been an exit wound, and the bullet had not ranged down towards the lungs. Asked by the press how they could have been so mistaken, Dr. McClelland advanced two reasons: they had not seen the autopsy report—and they had not known that Oswald was behind the President! The autopsy report, they had been told by the Secret Service, showed that Kennedy had been shot from behind. The agents, however, had refused to show the report to the doctors, who were entirely dependent on the word of the Secret Service for this suggestion. The doctors made it clear that they were not permitted to discuss the case. The third theory, with the medical evidence rewritten, remains the basis of the case against Oswald at this moment. Why has the medical evidence concerning the President’s death been altered out of recognition?

Although Oswald is alleged to have shot the President from behind, there are many witnesses who are confident that the shots came from the front. Among them are two reporters from the Forth Worth Star Telegram, four from the Dallas Morning News, and two people who were standing in front of the book depository building itself, the director of the book depository and the vice-president of the firm. It appears that only two people immediately entered the building: the director, Mr. Roy S. Truly, and a Dallas police officer, Seymour Weitzman. Both thought that the shots had come from in front of the President’s vehicle. On first running in that direction, Weitzman was informed by “someone” that he thought the shots had come from the building, so he rushed back there. Truly entered with him in order to assist with his knowledge of the building. Mr. Jesse Curry, the Chief of Police in Dallas, has stated that he was immediately convinced that the shots came from the building. If anyone else believes this, he has been reluctant to say so to date. It is also known that the first bulletin to go out on Dallas police radios stated that “the shots came from a triple overpass in front of the presidential automobile.” In addition, there is the consideration that after the first shot the vehicle was brought almost to a halt by the trained Secret Service driver, an unlikely response if the shots had indeed come from behind. Certainly Mr. Roy Kellerman, who was in charge of the Secret Service operation in Dallas that day, and travelled in the presidential car, looked to the front as the shots were fired. The Secret Service has had all the evidence removed from the car, so it is no longer possible to examine it. What is the evidence to substantiate the allegation that the President was shot from behind?

Photographs taken at the scene of the crime could be most helpful. One young lady standing just to the left of the presidential car as the shots were fired took photographs of the vehicle just before and during the shooting, and was thus able to get into her picture the entire front of the book depository building. Two F.B.I. agents immediately took the film which she took. Why has the F.B.I. refused to publish what could be the most reliable piece of evidence in the whole case?

In this connection it is noteworthy also that it is impossible to obtain the originals of photographs bearing upon the case. When Time magazine published a photograph of Oswald’s arrest—the only one ever seen—the entire background was blacked out for reasons which have never been explained. It is difficult to recall an occasion for so much falsification of photographs as has happened in the Oswald case.

The affidavit by Police Office Weitzman, who entered the book depository building, stated that he found the alleged murder rifle on the sixth floor. (It was first announced that the rifle had been found on the fifth floor, but this was soon altered.) It was a German 7.65 mm. Mauser. Late the following day, the F.B.I. issued its first proclamation. Oswald had purchased in March 1963 an Italian 6.5 mm. Mannlicher-Carcano. D.A. Wade immediately altered the nationality and size of the weapon to conform to the F.B.I. statement.

Several photographs have been published of the alleged murder weapon. On February 21,Life magazine carried on its cover a picture of “Lee Oswald with the weapons he used to kill President Kennedy and Officer Tippitt [sic].” On page 80, Life explained that the photograph was taken during March or April of 1963. According to the F.B.I., Oswald purchased his pistol in September 1963.The New York Times carried a picture of the alleged murder weapon being taken by police into the Dallas police station. The rifle is quite different. Experts have stated that no rifle resembling the one in the Life picture has even been manufactured. The New York Times also carried the same photograph as Life, but left out the telescopic sights. On March 2, Newsweek used the same photograph but painted in an entirely new rifle. Then on April 13 the Latin American edition of Life carried the same picture on its cover as the U.S. edition had on February 21, but in the same issue on page 18 it had the same picture with the rifle altered. How is it that millions of people have been misled by complete forgeries in the press?

The authorities interrogated Oswald for nearly 48 hours without allowing him to contact a lawyer, despite his repeated requests to do so. The director of the F.B.I. in Dallas was a man with considerable experience. American Civil Liberties Union lawyers were in Dallas requesting to see Oswald and were not allowed to do so. By interrogating Oswald for 48 hours without access to lawyers, the F.B.I. created conditions which made a trial of Oswald more difficult. A confession or evidence obtained from a man held 48 hours in custody is likely to be inadmissible in a U.S. court of law. The F.B.I. director conducted his interrogation in a manner which made the use of material secured in such a fashion worthless to him. This raises the question of whether he expected the trial to take place.

Another falsehood concerning the shooting was a story circulated by the Associated Press on November 23 from Los Angeles. This reported Oswald’s former superior officer in the Marine Corps as saying that Oswald was a crack shot and a hot-head. The story was published widely. Three hours later AP sent out a correction deleting the entire story from Los Angeles. The officer had checked his records and it had turned out that he was talking about another man. He had never known Oswald. To my knowledge the correction has yet to be published by a single major publication.

The Dallas police took a paraffin test on Oswald’s face and hands to try to establish that he had fired a weapon on November 22. The Chief of the Dallas Police, Jesse Curry, announced on November 23 that the result of the test “proves Oswald is the assassin.” The Director of the F.B.I. in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in charge of the investigation stated: “I have seen the paraffin test. The paraffin test proves that Oswald had nitrates and gunpowder on his hands and face. It proves he fired a rifle on November 22.” Not only does this unreliable test not prove any such thing, it was later discovered that the test on Oswald’s face was in fact negative, suggesting that it was unlikely he fired a rifle that day. Why was the result of the paraffin test altered before being announced by the authorities?

Oswald, it will be recalled, was originally arrested and charged with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt [sic]. Tippitt was killed at 1:06 p.m. on November 22 by a man who first engaged him in conversation, then caused him to get out of the stationary police car in which he was sitting and shot him with a pistol Miss Helen L. Markham, who states that she is the sole eye-witness to this crime, gave the Dallas police a description of the assailant. After signing her affidavit, she was instructed by the F.B.I., the Secret Service and many police officers that she was not permitted to discuss the case with anyone. The affidavit’s only description of the killer was that he was a “young white man.” Miss Markham later revealed that the killer had run right up to her and past her, brandishing the pistol, and she repeated the description of the murderer which she had given to the police. He was, she said, “short, a little heavy, and had somewhat bushy hair.” (The police description of Oswald was that he was of average height, or a little taller, was slim and had receding fair hair.) Miss Markham’s affidavit is the entire case against Oswald for the murder of Patrolman Tippitt, yet District Attorney Wade asserted: “We have more evidence to prove Oswald killed Tippit than we have to show he killed the President.” The case against Oswald for the murder of Tippitt, he continued, was an absolutely strong case. Why was the only description of Tippitt’s killer deliberately omitted by the police from the affidavit of the sole eye-witness?

Oswald’s description was broadcast by the Dallas police only 12 minutes after the President was shot. This raises one of the most extraordinary questions ever posed in a murder case: Why was Oswald’s description in connection with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt broadcast over Dallas police radio at 12:43 p.m. on November 22, when Tippitt was not shot until 1:06 p.m.?

According to Mr. Bob Considine, writing in the New York Journal American, there had been another person who had heard the shots that were fired at Tippitt. Warren Reynolds had heard shooting in the street from a nearby room and had rushed to the window to see the murderer run off. Reynolds himself was later shot through the head by a rifleman. A man was arrested for this crime but produced an alibi. His girl-friend, Betty Mooney McDonald, told the police she had been with him at the time Reynolds was shot, according to Mr. Considine. The Dallas police immediately dropped the charges, even before Reynolds had time to recover consciousness, and attempt to identify his assailant. The man at once disappeared, and two days later the police arrested Betty Mooney McDonald on a minor charge and it was announced that she had hanged herself in the police cell. She had been a striptease artist in Jack Ruby’s nightclub, according to Mr. Considine.

Another witness to receive extraordinary treatment in the Oswald case was his wife, Marina. She was taken to the jail while her husband was still alive and shown a rifle by Chief of Police Jesse Curry. Asked if it were Oswald’s, she replied that she believed Oswald had a rifle but that it didn’t look like that. She and her mother-in-law were in great danger following the assassination because of the threat of public revenge on them. At this time they were unable to obtain a single police officer to protect them. Immediately after Oswald was killed, however, the Secret service illegally held both women against their will. After three days they were separated and Marina has never again been accessible to the public. Held in custody for nine weeks and questioned almost daily by the F.B.I. and Secret Service, she finally testified to the Warren Commission and, according to Earl Warren, said that she believed her husband was the assassin. The Chief Justice added that the next day they intended to show Mrs. Oswald the murder weapon and the Commission was fairly confident that she would identify it as her husband’s. The following day it was announced that this had indeed happened. Mrs. Oswald, we are informed, is still in the custody of the Secret Service. To isolate a witness for nine weeks and to subject her to repeated questioning by the Secret Service in this manner is reminiscent of police behavior in other countries, where it is called brainwashing. The only witness produced to show that Oswald carried a rifle before the assassination stated that he saw a brown paper parcel about two feet long in the back seat of Oswald’s car. The rifle which the police “produced” was almost 3½ feet long.How was it possible for Earl Warren to forecast that Marina Oswald’s evidence would be exactly the reverse of what she had previously testified?

After Ruby had killed Oswald, D.A. Wade made a statement about Oswald’s movements following the assassination. He explained that Oswald had taken a bus, but he described the point at which Oswald had entered the vehicle as seven blocks away from the point located by the bus driver in his affidavit. Oswald, Wade continued, then took a taxi driven by a Daryll Click, who had signed an affidavit. An inquiry at the City Transportation Company revealed that no such taxi driver had ever existed in Dallas. Presented with this evidence, Wade altered the driver’s name to William Whaley. The driver’s log book showed that a man answering Oswald’s description had been picked up at 12:30. The President was shot at 12:31. D.A. Wade made no mention of this. Wade has been D.A. in Dallas for 14 years and before that was an F.B.I. agent.How does a District Attorney of Wade’s great experience account for all the extraordinary changes in evidence and testimony which he has announced during the Oswald case?

These are only a few of the questions raised by the official versions of the assassination and by the way in which the entire case against Oswald has been conducted. Sixteen questions are no substitute for a full examination of all the factors in this case, but I hope that they indicate the importance of such an investigation. I am indebted to Mr. Mark Lane, the New York criminal lawyer who was appointed counsel for Oswald by his mother, for much of the information in this article. Mr. Lane’s enquiries, which are continuing, deserve widespread support. A Citizen’s Committee of Inquiry has been established in New York, at Room 422, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York. N.Y. (telephone YU9-6850) for such a purpose, and comparable committees are being set up in Europe.

In Britain, I invited people eminent in the intellectual life of the country to join a “Who Killed Kennedy Committee,” which at the moment of writing consists of the following people: Mr. John Arden, playwright; Mrs. Carolyn Wedgwood Benn, from Cincinnati, wife of Anthony Wedgwood Benn, M.P.; Lord Boyd-Orr, former director-general of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and a Nobel Peace Prize winner; Mr. John Calder, publisher; Professor William Empsom, Professor of English Literature at Sheffield University; Mr. Victor Golancz, publisher; Mr. Michael Foot, Member of Parliament; Mr. Kingsley Martin, former editor of the New Statesman; Sir Compton Mackenzie, writer; Mr. J.B. Priestley, playwright and author; Sir Herbert Read, art critic; Mr. Tony Richardson, film director; Dr. Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark; Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University; Mr. Kenneth Tynan, Literary Manager of the National Theatre; and myself.

We view the problem with the utmost seriousness. U.S. Embassies have long ago reported to Washington world-wide disbelief in the official charges against Oswald, but this has scarcely been reflected by the American press. No U.S. television program or mass circulation newspaper has challenged the permanent basis of all the allegations—that Oswald was the assassin, and that he acted alone. It is a task which is left to the American people.

http://www.solstice.us/russell/16questions.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell

I read this article and, for its time, it turned out to be rather prescient.

Has anyone on the forum ever done a point by point confirmation/refutation of Russell's points?

He raises some issues that I don't believe I have seen addressed in other sources.

Edited by James H. Fetzer
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Of the original “Who Killed Kennedy Committee” only John Arden, John Calder and Michael Foot are still alive.

Peace News, 7 October 1966, pp.1-3

‘A First Class Texas Job’

By John Arden

Rush to Judgment, by Mark Lane (Bodley Head, 42s.)

Inquest, by E. J. Epstein (Hutchinson, 30s.)

Somebody once said that “the man on the Clapham omnibus” was the sort of typical figure of average common-sense whom judges, juries, lawyers and the like ought to have at the backs of their minds as a point of reference when considering complex and over-technical legal problems. If this anonymous traveller does not have the expert knowledge and confidential sources of information possessed by the police or the pathologists or the psychiatrists, at least, so runs the argument, he may have some degree of intelligent objectivity that can enable him to distinguish wood from trees and thus come a little nearer to a just understanding of the truth. He seems to have been referred to very infrequently during the inquiries concerning the death of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Now I myself do not often travel to Clapham, and I have not personally consulted “the man on the omnibus.” The nearest I got to him was perhaps “the man at the Dublin dinner party,” the evening of the day upon which it was announced that Oswald had been shot by Ruby. The conversation turned naturally upon the news from Dallas; indeed, it did more than turn, it was obsessed by it. “Who do you think did it?”, “What’s your interpretation?”, “Is any of the official story true?”, etc. Then this man said:

“Whoever did it, and for whatever reason, there is no doubt in my mind that the whole thing is a first class Texas job.”

I asked him exactly what he meant and he replied, in effect:

“You go to the cinema, don’t you? You enjoy Western films? Well, Dallas is a great modern city, as far as its material way of life is concerned; but spiritually it is still more or less a wide-open town of the 1880s, and the murders of Kennedy and Oswald and Tippit belong to that period of history. Whatever their subsequent effects upon the history of our own time, they must be viewed through the appropriate retrospective lenses, which in this case are the lenses of a film camera. It doesn’t have to be a good film, even. The Wild West in its own time saw itself as a mythological age and dramatised itself in exactly the same way as the cinema has done ever since.”

Let me give one example of this self-dramatisation which I found out about later: a civilian motorist in Texas is apparently permitted, by state law, to carry a gun in his map compartment on the grounds that “saddle holsters” are a necessary provision for self-defence when making a journey across the desert; nobody knows when rustlers, Mexican bandits, Injuns, or Billy the Kid might not suddenly turn up.

And turn up they did, with a vengeance, in Dallas, in 1963.

Wild West scenario

So let me, a dramatist by trade and not a lawyer like Mr. Lane nor an academic like Mr. Epstein, set out a few notions for a film sequence of just such a “first class Texas job.” We are in Texas, around 1880, and an important person, much loved and much hated, is about to arrive in town. He does not have to be the President: he need be no more than the fearless, hard-hitting editor of a newspaper who has been exposing a number of local financial scandals involving large scale cattle transactions and various dubious deals with the Apaches. He is believed to be interested in examining the causes of a recent and nearly disastrous Indian rising, and he is known to be anxious to find ways and means of coming to some sort of accommodation with, say, Geronimo, the scourge of the south-west. He has expressed the opinion that the said scourge has been unduly provoked by the US Cavalry, in alliance with the Texas Rangers and, more important, he is being listened to in Washington. He is played by Spencer Tracy.

As the stage coach swings into the dung-covered main street, a volley of shots ring out and Mr. Tracy falls back into his seat, dead. Confusion in the street. Everyone runs backwards and forwards, and guns go off all round the compass. From the Sheriff’s Office emerges the Sheriff (Dean Jagger) yelling: “Some renegade’s shot the Editor!” The cry is taken up from end to end of the town, and after having utilised about thirty seconds of sound track it becomes, rather strangely, metamorphosed into a shout of “That half-breed’s shot the Editor!” Immediate rush of persons to a shack on the edge of the desert in which dwells Anthony Perkins, half-breed and generally disreputable character. When the posse, or lynch mob, or whatever it is, gets to the shack, it is to discover Mr. Perkins standing, bewildered, over the corpse of the Sheriff’s Deputy (Lee Marvin). A smoking gun lies beside the porch, and the half-breed’s redskin wife (Jean Simmons, for some reason) grovels in the dust, screaming hysterically. Perkins is hauled off to jail, and the Sheriff, his thumb in his waistcoat, a shotgun in the crook of his elbow, and an ambiguous smile under his moustache, makes a great performance of telling everyone within earshot that:

“This man’s gonna git a fair trail or else Ah wanta know the reason why. An’ he’s gonna git his fair trail at ten o’clock on Tuesday mornin’, and at precisely ten o’clock on Tuesday mornin’ Ah’m abringin’ him out o’ this yar jail house and Ah’m atakin’ him across the street to that thar court house and no-one’s agoin’ to stop me!”

Short interlude inside the jail during which Mr. Perkins rattles the bars and shrieks: “You can’t hang an innocent man!” And then, Tuesday morning. Amidst a roaring, muttering, definitely overacting crowd of unwashed extras, the prisoner is led out of the jail. A pause on the veranda while the Sheriff addresses a few more self-congratulatory remarks to the citizens. Then, suddenly, through the press comes Frank Sinatra (or perhaps Dean Martin) in a character part: beat-up gambler who has been established as alternately beating up and making love to the girls in the saloon. He has also been established as a great pal of Mr. Jagger and also of Mr. Marvin, and with a swift lunge of his right arm he fires six successive bullets straight into Mr. Perkins’s stomach.

He then breaks down and sobs out something about “That Editor was a fine man and he had the sweetest little wife this side of the Rio Grande. She never knew I existed even , but I’m telling you all, I did it for her sake.” Further up the street, a slow track of the camera reveals a group of well-fed gentlemen in frock coats and spotless Stetsons, smoking cheroots and apparently very much at ease with the world. They are on the steps of the Inter-State Cattleman’s Bank and Trading Assoc. Inc., and among their frock coats is at least one blue and braided cavalry uniform.

Now any ordinary audience will have a very fair idea of what such a sequence means. It means that a reel or two later James Stewart is going to discover on behalf of the “simple, decent people of this state” (i.e. a group of hymn singing smallholders, at feud with the cattlemen, and suspicious of Mr. Stewart, because he is supposed to be a professional gunfighter) that the Sheriff, the Deputy, and a number of others are all in a conspiracy , backed by the frock coats and the uniform, to kill Mr. Tracy and implicate the Mr. Perkins (who, being a half-breed, has no friends). The actual shots at the stage coach were probably fired by Mr. Marvin, though Mr. Perkins may have been blackmailed into expending at least one cartridge, and Mr. Marvin, unfortunately, has made a mess of his second assignment, which was to kill Mr. Perkins before he could be arrested, so the Sinatra/Martin character has had to be called in to finish the job. This was unwise, because being such an unstable individual, he is liable to overdo it. His fervent expressions of devotion to the Editor’s wife are an example of his injudicious zeal in this direction.

Of course, the flaw in this argument is fairly obvious. Had the Sherriff been played by John Wayne rather than Dean Jagger, the audience would take an entirely different interpretation, and there would be no need to put James Stewart under contract at all, because Mr. Wayne would clearly be able to wind up the story on his own, positively oozing independent integrity. But in fact, in Dallas, three years ago, there was no John Wayne, and a great deal of trouble was taken to see that there was to be no James Stewart either. Nevertheless, after one or two false claimants (terrible old hams, for the most part, whose mouthings and sawings of the air would convince very few Clapham commuters) he has turned up. He is, of course, Mark Lane, and he has been given some unexpected and not entirely sympathetic assistance by Edward Jay Epstein.

Mr. Lane comes into the business as the legal adviser of Mrs. Oswald, mother of the alleged assassin, and he attended (or rather, tried to attend, for there was great resentment against him, and he was pretty successfully obstructed) the meetings of the Warren Commission in order to guard the posthumous interests of her unhappy son. As Oswald was dead there was no regular trial for murder. The Warren Commission was supposed to find out who had done the murder: but in fact, as Mr. Lane clearly establishes in his book, they began their sessions with an unconscious (one could almost say conscious) assumption that the Dallas police and the FBI were quite right and that the arrested man was in fact the guilty man. Thus the evidence brought forward into the Commission’s final summary of its report is nearly all what one would call “prosecution evidence.” Other (“defence”) evidence was heard by the Commission, and it appears in the supplementary volumes of the report (all 26 of them). Mr. Lane has collated this raw material with the Commission’s own summing up and interpretation of it in the first volume; and he has come to the conclusion, from which it is difficult to dissent, that a jury at Oswald’s trial (had he been alive to have faced one) might very well have brought in a verdict of “not guilty,” if only because there was insufficient weight of proof presented.

The witnesses before the Warren Commission were not cross examined in the interests of the accused, and a great many inconsistencies, contradictions, evasions, and downright lies were allowed to go unquestioned, the Commission being anxious to show that Oswald and nobody else killed Kennedy, that Oswald and nobody else killed Tippit, and that Ruby killed Oswald without assistance, encouragement, inducement, or even motive. Ruby, you see, like Oswald, was barmy; therefore the consistency of his acts need not be examined, he could not be part of a conspiracy, and America can turn over and go to sleep again untroubled. Such, in brief, is Mark Lane’s thesis.

And such is also the general tenor of Mr. Epstein’s book. This work is not, in origin, a partisan piece of writing. It is based, indeed upon an objective survey of the actual workings of the Commission itself, and those members who provided the author with his information must by now be feeling a little queasy. But Earl Warren, it has been argued, is an excellent famous Judge, whose services to the cause of right and liberal truth have been innumerable. His fellow commissioners were men of proven integrity; indeed, great care was taken to exclude “controversial” figures from the Commission, whatever that means, but we have Mr. Epstein’s word that it was done.

Mysterious deaths

Can we then believe that such an honourable assembly could sit down to examine a notorious and outrageous crime and then calmly agree to hush it up and paper it over? At this point, Mr. Epstein gets nervous. He points out, rightly, that in fact the Commission was not quite all it appeared to be. The senior members did not sit continuously; some of them hardly attended at all. But then they were busy public servants and had other responsibilities. So much of the detailed work of taking and evaluating evidence was left to their junior assistants. These, in turn, relied upon the FBI and other investigatory bodies for the greater part of their work, and if a group of young and ambitious lawyers should be a little embarrassed and more than a little deferential in the face of ex cathedra pronouncements from the mighty J. Edgar Hoover, FBI chief, then we should be neither surprised nor condemnatory. There may have been inefficiency, there was certainly undue haste, but there was no villainous collusion. Besides, anyone can make a mistake; and the interests of public order were well served. The Commission, it may be claimed, is vindicated by results: Oswald was found to have done everything he was supposed to have done, and nothing else; and there were no race riots, insurrections or further assassinations.

No, that is not quite true. If we refer to Mr. Lane at this point, we discover that afterwards, in Dallas, there were one or two mysterious deaths and assaults and outbreaks of threat. Of course, Dallas is Dallas, where map compartments in a motor car are saddle holsters on a horse, and it might happen to anyone, down there. But why did it have to happen to Mr. Lane’s particular list of people, who had all offered evidence that in some way might have helped, had it been examined more closely, to clear Oswald of guilt, or at least to provide him with one or more confederates.

Awkward questions

So perhaps there a conspiracy? My own view is that there certainly was. But it need not have been a very big one. We do not have to indulge ourselves with the seductive myths of international plots, which is a game leading rapidly to McCarthyite hysteria and theories about the “Protocols of Zion.” But suppose there were a few men in Dallas who hated Kennedy (John Birchers or petty racialists seem the most plausible suggestions) who were also in a position to cover their tracks with the assistance of some of the local police? For instance, when Oswald was brought out to the car that was to take him to the prison, there was a tremendous guard of lawmen to protect him in the fatal basement; but at the crucial moment, there was no car in position. So they all had to stand and wait for the vehicle, with their prisoner well to the fore, not even covered by a blanket in the time honoured British way; and when Ruby came forward he found Oswald so liberally presented to his gun that he might have been put there on purpose. Perhaps he was. Anyway, the local police had some awkward questions to face. The FBI did not make them any more awkward than they had to. Why not? Well, there is a question that Oswald might have been an FBI agent. The mighty Hoover, beating as he swept as he cleaned, (flatly) said that this was not the case. The Commission took his word and thanked him fulsomely for his co-operation.

FBI’s heel

Does this mean that the whole thing was an FBI job? I do not think so. Even if a presumably sophisticated man like Hoover believed that Kennedy alone was responsible for the conception and working out of policies that might have been unsatisfactory by FBI standards (which would no doubt, to Hoover, have meant treasonable policies), it is not probable that such policies would be necessarily reversed by killing Kennedy. It is much more likely that the FBI is as the Church of Rome or the Communist Party and cannot bear to admit error. Therefore a rumour that his smallest of small fry informants was mixed up in the death of the President would appear to the mighty Hoover like an arrow in the heel to the godlike Achilles, and it would have to be prevented by whatever means came first to hand. If such a means was the murder of Oswald then it would have to be done. It would be organised by some dedicated servant of the public good, carried out by a convenient near-criminal (Ruby), and covered up by the blandest of Olympian denials. Such events take place daily in the world of the secret police, and the public enjoys them weekly in the world of the cinema, but it is rare that their repercussions interest quite so many people in quite so many places as happened on this particular occasion. The apparently pusillanimous reaction of the Warren Commission need not upset us too much; unless, of course, we are the sort of people who really do believe that an honest man in public life has only to be honest and all falsehood will flee before him. Imagine yourself to be Earl Warren or one of his colleagues confronted with a piece of evidence that suggests that Oswald was in the FBI and that the FBI are covering this up, or that Oswald’s hiding place in the Book Depository was not the only place from which shots were fired at the presidential motorcade, or that Ruby and Tippit and a well known rightist called Weissman had a meeting in Ruby’s strip club a whole week before the murders. (All these suggestions were made, and were rejected by the Commission on not very adequate grounds.) Now, what are you going to do? You have three choices.

1. Hush the whole thing up, silence the inconvenient witnesses by trumped up charges of drug addiction and what not, and publish nothing at all of the truth.

2. Accept the “Oswald defence” evidence as at least as plausible as the rest (which it was, as Mr. Lane makes clear).

3. Publish all the evidence, but contrive to denigrate those parts of it that do not fit the preconceived theory.

The true dishonest conspirator would follow course number 1. This is what was apparently done by the Dallas police and perhaps by the FBI. But the Commissioners did not. Nor did they follow course number 2. If they had, they would really have been in trouble. They might have had to find that Oswald was innocent, in which case who was guilty? Or that he had associates, and then who would they be? Heaven knows what would turn up. Why, LBJ is a Texan. Suppose some friends of his were mixed up in it? Even if he cleared himself, to the satisfaction of the Commission, what would the public think? Let alone the Republicans. And who among that loyal Commission (appointed by the President) would dare to ask the President to clear himself? Lord Denning’s little job was cushy compared with this. The nation, as they say, would be plunged into anarchy. The most liberal of judges would surely blench at such a prospect.

So were are left with course number 3. They did indeed publish nearly all of what they were told. But they did not enlarge upon it, when it posed too many questions, and they published it in no less than 26 volumes. You need stamina to read them all and separate wheat from chaff, and there was plenty of chaff. To assist the weary student and to prepare the newspapers of the world, the Commission’s conclusions, tendentious and half-baked, were carefully listed in the first volume and only a man with a direct interest in the case, like Mark Lane, would trouble to read further, and make notes as he read.

Which brings us to a final point. Anyone, a year or two ago, who ventured to suggest that Mark Lane might have some pertinent things to say, and should be encouraged to say them, was subjected to an extraordinary campaign of vilification from quite unexpected directions: The Guardian, where a Mr. Grigg threw such words about as “renegade” (see my improvised film treatment above!), The New Statesman, and even Peace News, they all came swinging in about our heads, demanding resignations, retractions and general public breast beating. But now Mr.Lane has written his book. He may not be right; he is, after all, no more than an advocate. But as an advocate he presents the side of the case that no-one wanted to hear. The Warren Commission desired above all to preserve public order and a quiet mind in time of trouble. Agreeable objects, but if we possess them at the expense of truth, we are not likely to be able to enjoy them for very long.

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In 16 Questions on the Assassination, Bertrand Russell credits Mark Lane:

"These are only a few of the questions raised by the official versions of the assassination and by the way in which the entire case against Oswald has been conducted. Sixteen questions are no substitute for a full examination of all the factors in this case, but I hope that they indicate the importance of such an investigation. I am indebted to Mr. Mark Lane, the New York criminal lawyer who was appointed counsel for Oswald by his mother, for much of the information in this article. Mr. Lane’s enquiries, which are continuing, deserve widespread support."

When 16 Questions on the Assassination was published in The Minority of One, Mark Lane was working on finishing the manuscript of what would eventually become the best-selling book, Rush to Judgement.

After Grove Press cancelled their contract with Lane, he submitted the manuscript to Simon & Schuster who "reluctantly rejected" Lane's work. Lane writes:

"In due course, Bertrand Russell was kind enough to read the manuscript and urge Simon & Schuster, at that time his publishers, to reconsider. I submitted the manuscript again,

but the result was the same."
(A Citizen's Dissent, Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1968)

Lane subsequently spent many "bitter and difficult months" trying to find a publisher.

Rush to Judgment was eventually published in 1966 by The Bodley Head, Ltd. in Great Britain. It was also published by Holt, Rinehart and in the United States. It was the number-one best-selling hardback of 1966

with 26 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. (From: http://www.marklane.com/index.htm)

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