Other JFK Assassination Texts

A selection of writings about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, all formatted in valid and accessible HTML:

JFK Assassination Documents

Several official documents that illustrate various aspects of the assassination:

Grassy Knoll Witnesses

The statements and testimony of the 40 or so witnesses in Dealey Plaza who claimed that shots came from the general direction of the grassy knoll.

Parkland Hospital Press Conference Transcript

The press conference given by two of the doctors who had treated President Kennedy at Parkland Hospital, in which Dr Malcolm Perry three times states that the bullet wound in the president’s throat was one of entrance.

Sibert and O’Neill Report

The Sibert and O’Neill Report is the only contemporaneous account of events at President Kennedy’s autopsy.

Katzenbach’s Memo to Bill Moyers

A memo by Nicholas Katzenbach, the acting Attorney General, written shortly after Lee Oswald’s murder, pointing out the need to counteract various conspiracy theories about the assassination of the president. He suggested the formation of what became the Warren Commission.

LBJ’s Phone Call with Joe Alsop

On the morning of President Kennedy’s funeral, President Johnson spoke by telephone to the journalist Joe Alsop, who pointed out how the media could assist in legitimising the results of the criminal investigation.

Carolyn Arnold’s FBI Statements

Carolyn Arnold, a secretary in the TSBD, gave two statements to the FBI: she saw Lee Oswald in the TSBD lunch room about 15 minutes before the shooting, at the same time as Arnold Rowland saw a gunman on the sixth floor.

Memo re Rumours that Oswald was an FBI Informant

A secret memorandum by J. Lee Rankin dealing with rumours that Oswald had been an informant for the FBI.

Edgewood Arsenal Bullet Tests

A US Army report on ballistics tests, Wound Ballistics of 6.5–mm Mannlicher–Carcano Ammunition, showed that Commission Exhibit 399 was very unlikely to have caused the non–fatal wounds to President Kennedy and Governor Connally.

The Liebeler Memorandum

Wesley Liebeler’s memorandum criticising a draft version of chapter 4 of the Warren Report.

Richard Russell and the Warren Report

One of the Warren Commission’s members, Senator Richard Russell, objected to the Report’s conclusion that Oswald alone had committed the assassination.

CIA and Warren Report Critics

An internal CIA document from 1967 suggested using the Agency’s network of what it called ‘propaganda assets’ to counter critics of the Warren Report.

Dr Pierre Finck: Dissecting JFK’s Wounds

One of the pathologists at President Kennedy’s autopsy testified that he and his colleagues were forbidden to dissect the back and throat wounds.

Richard Sprague: Memo re Dr George Burkley

President Kennedy’s personal doctor had helped to treat the president at Parkland, and attended the autopsy at Bethesda. In 1977 he contacted Richard Sprague, Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, offering information about a possible conspiracy.

Bertrand Russell: 16 Questions on the Assassination

Bertrand Russell: 16 Questions on the Assassination, first published in September 1964, was among the earliest critical accounts of the Warren Commission’s conduct and conclusions. Although one or two of his questions have been made redundant by new evidence, Russell raised several points which still stand and which get to the heart of the assassination controversy, such as:

  • If Oswald really was the lone assassin, why all the secrecy on the grounds of national security?
  • Why did the Commission not ask the fundamental question: who killed President Kennedy?

Mark Lane: Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer’s Brief

Four weeks after the assassinations of both JFK and Oswald, the National Guardian published a long essay by the lawyer Mark Lane, who pointed out both the weaknesses in the early case against Oswald and the prejudicial collaboration between the press, the police and the district attorney in Dallas. Lane later expanded his essay, which was published separately.

  1. The editors of the National Guardian introduce Lane’s essay, Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer’s Brief.
  2. Lane lists the fifteen elements of the official case against Oswald.
  3. Lane points out the weakness of the evidence that: placed Oswald in the sixth–floor window; his palm prints were on the rifle and on a cardboard box; paraffin tests showed he had fired a gun; the rifle was a German Mauser; and he carried an identification card in the name of ‘Hidell’.
  4. Lane deals with accusations that: Lee Oswald was the only TSBD employee unaccounted for; his wife, Marina, knew that he owned rifle; he carried a package under his arm that morning; and he laughed when told that JFK had been shot.
  5. Lane notes further problems with the evidence against Oswald: the taxi driver who took Oswald home was first named Darryl Click, then William Whaley; that the evidence in the Tippit murder was confused; that Oswald’s activities in the Texas Theater did not demonstrate guilt; and that an incriminating map did not actually exist.
  6. Lane points out flaws in the ‘airtight’ case against Oswald: there was no obvious motive, and no evidence of a plan to escape the scene of the crime.
  7. Lane deplores Oswald’s conviction by the press.
  8. Lane reiterates that the presumption of innocence should apply to Oswald.

Eric Norden : The Death of a President

Eric Norden’s long article was first published in The Minority of One in January 1964. Here, it is broken down into three parts:

  1. In Part One, Norden touches on a range of topics, including the question of why, if Lee Oswald was genuinely a communist sympathiser, he was not watched during Kennedy’s visit to Dallas. Norden also mentions one issue that is no longer generally considered important: the confusion over the type of rifle that had been discovered at the crime scene.
  2. Part Two covers the behaviour of the Dallas police, who repeatedly proclaimed Oswald guilty and then allowed him to be killed; the police’s links to Jack Ruby, and the weakness of the evidence against Oswald.
  3. In Part Three, Norden notes the reactions of the foreign press, which was much more sceptical of the lone–nut theory than the domestic press. He questions whether Oswald really was the left–winger he was made out to be, and expresses his lack of faith in the newly appointed Warren Commission to do an honest job.

Sylvia Meagher: Notes for a New Investigation

Sylvia Meagher’s ‘Notes for a New Investigation’ was first published in Esquire magazine in December 1966. Meagher lists many of the important witnesses to aspects of the assassination who were not considered by the Warren Commission. She expanded on this theme in her influential book, Accessories After the Fact.

Sylvia Meagher: The Curious Testimony of Mr Givens

In ‘The Curious Testimony of Mr Givens’, first published in the Texas Observer in August 1971, Sylvia Meagher examined the statements made to law enforcement officers by Charles Givens, a colleague of Lee Oswald, and concluded that Givens had been persuaded to perjure himself in front of the Warren Commission.

Roger Feinman: Between the Signal and the Noise

Roger Feinman’s Between the Signal and the Noise was prompted by Feinman’s falling–out with another of the early critics, David Lifton, author of Best Evidence.

Although Feinman spends a good many words on a rather petty, he–said–she–said description of his differences with Lifton, the book is useful for two reasons:

  • He puts forward a cogent, non–paranoid account of the medical aspects of the JFK assassination. One of Feinman’s main points is that the assassination can be understood without having to resort to Lifton’s, and others’, outlandish notion that both the president’s body and the Zapruder film were physically altered to conceal evidence of conspiracy. Most of this material is in chapters 1, 4, 5, 6 and 8.
  • He describes how the early critical community worked and interacted. Feinman’s account is an essential primary source for any history of the early critics of the Warren Report.

Feinman’s Preface explains some of the background to his squabble with Lifton.

  1. Chapter 1: You Just Don’t Understand Me, You Never Did, I Hate You. Feinman gives a good description of events at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, and how Arlen Specter of the Warren Commission worked to neutralise the doctors’ account of President Kennedy’s wounds. He introduces and criticises David Lifton’s theory that the president’s body was kidnapped and surgically altered before it arrived at Bethesda for the autopsy.
  2. Chapter 2: The Scent of a Woman, Part I. Feinman examines Lifton’s dealings with Sylvia Meagher (pronounced ‘Marr’), one of the most influential of the early critics.
  3. Chapter 3: I Don’t Pick Brains, I Eat Them. Feinman traces the development of Lifton’s ideas about the case, and describes an earlier body–alteration theory.
  4. Chapter 4: What’s Wrong with All of You? Why Can’t You See How Scholarly I Am?. Feinman discusses a memo by Dr Pierre Finck, one of the pathologists who conducted the autopsy. He describes his and Lifton’s attendance at a debate in Chicago.
  5. Chapter 5: Act of Desperation. Feinman analyses in detail Lifton’s highly implausible notion that wounds were added to President Kennedy’s back and head, and that all the shooting came from the front.
  6. Chapter 6: A Night at Bethesda. Feinman questions Lifton’s account of events at Bethesda, and argues that what Lifton took to be the arrival of a reconstructed presidential corpse was in fact only the use of a decoy ambulance to distract the crowd of spectators. He argues that Best Evidence exemplifies the commercial publishing industry’s bias against sober and responsible accounts of the assassination.
  7. Chapter 7: The Original Work of a Scholar. A short chapter in which Feinman alleges that Lifton appropriated the work of other writers without acknowledgement.
  8. Chapter 8: Assassination in the 4th Dimension. Feinman argues that Dr George Burkley arrived at the emergency room before President Kennedy’s throat wound was obscured by a tracheotomy, and that Burkley was therefore able to inform the pathologists that the wound was caused by a shot from in front.
  9. Chapter 9: I Had to Have that Document. A storm–in–a–teacup account of how Feinman and Lifton acquired copies of the transcript of the press conference at Parkland Hospital during which Dr Malcolm Perry described JFK’s throat wound as one of entrance.
  10. Chapter 10: I Can’t Stop Dreaming About Roger Feinman, Yet He Rebuffs Me. A very short chapter in which Feinman discusses Lifton’s attitude to him.
  11. Chapter 11: Hooray for Hollywood!. Feinman describes his and Lifton’s relations with Oliver Stone during the planning and making of the film JFK, as well as the attitudes of other Warren Commission critics to the film.
  12. Chapter 12: Come to Me with your Problems. Bring Your Manuscript. Feinman laments the autobiographical nature of Best Evidence. He reports Lifton’s early beliefs, according to Sylvia Meagher’s memos, that photographs were doctored, that conspirators were hidden in the foliage in Dealey Plaza, and that the two Secret Service agents in Kennedy’s car were impostors.
  13. Chapter 13: The Scent of a Woman, Part II. Feinman briefly describes the end of Sylvia Meagher’s dealings with David Lifton.
  14. Chapter 14: In the Shadow of Dealey Plaza. Feinman laments the harm that far–fetched conspiracy theories do to the public image of critics of the lone–nut fiction. He describes Lifton as “ the perfect public spokesman for the assassination research community, only if we look at things from the perspective of both the government and the established news media.”

The text of Feinman’s book had been available online for some time at http://karws.gso.uri.edu/jfk/the_critics/Feinman/Feinmanbio.html, the area of the University of Rhode Island website from which this edition’s text has been taken. Kenneth Rahn, the curator of that version, is transferring his JFK material to his personal site. He introduces the text with an interesting account of the squabble between Feinman and Lifton.

Lee Oswald: Speech in Alabama

Lee Harvey Oswald gave a speech in Alabama in July 1963, in which he may or may not have revealed his honest opinions of political matters. His hand–written notes survive, along with recollections about his speech by a member of the audience.

George de Mohrenschildt: I Am a Patsy!

George de Mohrenschildt and his wife, Jeanne, befriended Lee and Marina Oswald in Dallas in 1962. George de Mohrenschildt’s memoirs are self–serving and, in places, unreliable, but they include some credible information about the Oswalds’ domestic life.

  1. Preface in Haiti: De Mohrenschildt hears the news of President Kennedy’s assassination and of Oswald’s arrest.
  2. Getting to Know the Oswalds: De Mohrenschildt’s first impressions of Lee Harvey Oswald.
  3. First Meetings with Lee: Oswald’s defection, and his impressions of Minsk.
  4. Further Conversation with Lee in 1962: The Oswalds get to know the de Mohrenschildt family.
  5. The Oswalds in Minsk: How Lee and Marina Oswald emigrated to the USA.
  6. We Are Becoming Close Friends: De Mohrenschildt wonders whether Oswald had been an undercover agent while in Minsk.
  7. Contrasts Between the Oswalds: Trouble between Lee and Marina Oswald.
  8. Increased Animosity: Marina’s lifestyle, and Lee Oswald’s views on race and segregation.
  9. Idea of Separation: The Oswalds begin to live apart.
  10. Separation and More Trouble: Lee Oswald’s views on President Kennedy, and George de Mohrenschildt’s views on the FBI.
  11. Lee Oswald and the US: Oswald tells de Mohrenschildt about his threat to blow up the FBI office in Dallas. The FBI incident was genuine, but de Mohrenschildt’s account was false; his last meeting with Oswald took place several months earlier.
  12. Effects of the Separation: The Oswalds move back in together.
  13. Our Meetings at the End of 1962: The Oswalds attend a Christmas party.
  14. Rare Meetings in 1963: Ruth Paine, who took over from the de Mohrenschildts, enters the picture.
  15. Lee and Admiral Chester Bruton: Lee Harvey Oswald meets a former admiral.
  16. Easter of 1963: The de Mohrenschildts notice that Lee Oswald possesses a rifle.
  17. Our Move to Haiti: George de Mohrenschildt claims that a CIA official vouched for Oswald’s reliability.
  18. The Warren Commission: Albert Jenner of the Warren Commission interviews the de Mohrenschildts.
  19. Our Return to Haiti: A book claims that George de Mohrenschildt is attached to the CIA; he denies the accusation.
  20. Effects on Our Lives: De Mohrenschildt disapproves of the NBC TV series, The Warren Report.
  21. Our Return to the United States: They return to Dallas; George claims that Oswald was indeed a patsy.
  22. A Message from Lee: The de Mohrenschildts discover an incriminating photograph taken in the back yard of the Oswalds’ house in Neely Street. Marina Oswald refuses to have anything to do with Ruth Paine.
  23. Unusual Visitors: A reporter and a photographer, falsely claiming to be from Life magazine, visit the de Mohrenschildts.
  24. Who Are the Real Criminals?: De Mohrenschildt is upset with the Warren Commission, and again calls Oswald a patsy.
  25. Willem Oltmans and His Clairvoyant: An account of how Oltmans, a Dutch journalist, was dissuaded from investigating the JFK assassination.
  26. Why Lee and I Agreed on the FBI: De Mohrenschildt’s joke about Oswald having shot at General Edwin Walker.
  27. I Am a Patsy: De Mohrenschildt claims that Oswald “was an actor in real life.”
  28. Conclusion: George de Mohrenschildt repeats his denial that he had been employed by the CIA.

Jim Garrison: Interview with Playboy

Jim Garrison: Interview with Playboy: The magazine gives Garrison a platform to respond to some of his critics in the corporate media.

  1. Accusations Against Garrison: Newsweek and NBC claimed that there had been attempts to bribe two of Garrison’s witnesses.
  2. The New Orleans Investigation: The claim that Clay or Clem Bertrand was Clay Shaw.
  3. CIA and the JFK Assassination: Garrison suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald and George de Mohrenschildt had worked for the CIA.
  4. Facts of the JFK Assassination: JFK was killed by fanatical anti–communists because he was working for reconciliation with the USSR and Cuba.
  5. Lee Oswald and Guy Banister: Oswald was not the Marxist that he was claimed to be; he associated with the right–wing Guy Banister in New Orleans.
  6. Oswald’s Role in the Conspiracy: Oswald did not shoot President Kennedy; he was a decoy, patsy and victim.
  7. The Shooting in Dealey Plaza: at least one shot came from behind the fence on the grassy knoll, and a bullet was planted on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital.
  8. The Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit: Problems with Warren Commission case that Oswald shot Tippit.
  9. Lee Harvey Oswald and the FBI: There is no evidence that Oswald was more than a petty informer for the FBI.
  10. Gordon Novel and the CIA: Novel was an intelligence agent who associated with David Ferrie and anti–Castro Cubans.
  11. Jack Ruby knew Oswald and had links to anti–Castro Cubans.
  12. David Ferrie also had links to anti–Castro Cubans, and may have been murdered.
  13. Jim Garrison’s Political Views: He could see the danger of the US turning into a fascist state.

Bill Hicks: JFK Assassination Routine

The stand–up comedian Bill Hicks’s JFK assassination routine, dating from the early nineties.