JFK Assassination Documents
Several official documents that illustrate various aspects of the JFK assassination are presented here in roughly chronological order and in valid, accessible HTML.
Grassy Knoll Witnesses
About 40 witnesses in Dealey Plaza heard gunshots from the general direction of the grassy knoll, or detected smoke in that area. Included are official statements, Warren Commission testimony, and contemporary newspaper accounts.
Parkland Hospital Press Conference Transcript
Just over one hour after President Kennedy had been pronounced dead, a press conference at Parkland Hospital, Dallas, was given by two of the doctors who had treated the president. An introduction sets out the significance of the press conference:
- Dr Malcolm Perry three times stated that the bullet wound in the president’s throat was one of entrance. If he was correct, the Warren Commission’s single–bullet theory would be invalidated.
- The fate of the transcript of the press conference illustrates the Commission’s attitude to evidence that contradicted its conclusions.
The Sibert and O’Neill Report
Two FBI agents, James Sibert and Francis O’Neill, attended President Kennedy’s autopsy. Their report is the only contemporaneous account of events at the autopsy. It contradicts the Warren Commission’s case in several ways. Like the press conference transcript, it was ignored by the Commission.
Katzenbach’s Memo to Bill Moyers
A memo by Nicholas Katzenbach, the acting Attorney General, written shortly after Lee Oswald’s murder, suggested the formation of what became the Warren Commission as a way of counteracting the various conspiracy theories that had begun to circulate.
LBJ’s Phone Call with Joe Alsop
The morning after Katzenbach wrote his memo, the journalist Joe Alsop telephoned President Johnson and attempted to persuade him that public relations would be best served if the results of the criminal investigation were officially approved by a body of notable citizens.
Carolyn Arnold’s FBI Statements
Carolyn Arnold told the FBI that she saw Lee Harvey Oswald on the first or second floor of the TSBD about 15 minutes before the shooting, at the same time as a gunman was seen on the sixth floor by Arnold Rowland.
Memo: Was Oswald an Undercover Agent?
Early in the proceedings of the Warren Commission, a secret memorandum by J. Lee Rankin discussed rumours that Oswald had been an undercover informant or agent for the FBI.
Edgewood Arsenal Bullet Tests
The US Army performed some ballistics tests on behalf of Warren Commission, to see whether the injuries to President Kennedy and Governor Connally could have been caused by the type of bullet associated with the rifle discovered in the Texas School Book Depository. The results of those tests, Wound Ballistics of 6.5–mm Mannlicher–Carcano Ammunition, included photographs of bullets that were much more severely deformed than Commission Exhibit 399.
The Liebeler Memorandum
As the Warren Report neared completion, Wesley Liebeler’s memorandum anticipated many of the criticisms that would be made of the Report, in particular:
- the fact that the lone assassin’s marksmanship could not be equalled by the majority of the expert riflemen used by the Commission;
- and the weakness of the eye–witness evidence for the Commission’s case that Oswald murdered Officer J.D. Tippit.
Richard Russell and the Warren Report
The Warren Commission’s conclusions were far from unanimous. One member, Senator Richard Russell, objected to the Warren Report’s central proposition, the single–bullet theory. Russell spoke by telephone to Lyndon Johnson shortly after he had presented his case at the Commission’s final meeting, telling the president of his objections, which were not recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
CIA: Countering Criticism of the Warren Report
By 1967, several influential books had been published that were critical of the Warren Report. An internal CIA document:
- recognised the danger that such criticism posed to governmental institutions, including the CIA itself;
- and proposed that the Agency’s network of what it called ‘propaganda assets’ in the media should be utilised to counteract the critics.
Dr Pierre Finck: JFK’s Back and Throat Wounds
Pierre Finck, one of the pathologists at President Kennedy’s autopsy testified that:
- the autopsy was under the control of high–ranking military officers,
- and that he and his colleagues were forbidden to dissect the president’s back and throat wounds.
Richard Sprague: Memo re Dr George Burkley
President Kennedy’s personal physician had a unique knowledge of JFK’s wounds: he was in the motorcade; he helped to treat the president at Parkland Hospital; and he attended the autopsy at Bethesda. He was not called to testify before the Warren Commission, but in 1977 he contacted Richard Sprague, Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, offering information about a possible conspiracy.