Today we share expert reactions to my Dec. 9 column opposing the Warren Commission’s finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President Kennedy.
That column, JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, was based on recent books, interviews and conferences about the murder on Nov. 22, 1963. Pro and con reactions and other news developments are presented below in this tenth segment segment in the Justice Integrity Project’s “JFK Murder Readers Guide.”
As context, this kind of inquiry faces unusually difficult obstacles. We now know that the government narrowed its focus to Oswald and encouraged media self-censorship immediately after Kennedy’s death, thereby distorting the official inquiries, news accounts, and other records.
The State Department and CIA had secretly urged opinion-leaders, including those controlling major media outlets, to mock critics of the Warren Commission as “conspiracy theorists” unworthy of credibility or, by implication, continued employment in significant media and academic jobs.
The joint government-media public relations campaign organized virtually all of the most prestigious publications and their top commentators in the 1960s, even those otherwise renowned for independent work. This made it extraordinarily difficult for the organizations and commentators to change their views.
Thus, the propaganda campaign persists today even though, in retrospect, the evidence against Oswald — a likely double agent working with federal authorities — could be challenged on many grounds, as our previous column indicated. Robert Tanenbaum, former top counsel of a 1978 House investigation of into the Kennedy killing, told a C-SPAN audience this fall that not one jury in the United States would have convicted Oswald on the basis of evidence before the Warren Commission.
Doubts loomed so large just after the murder that even Robert Kennedy, right, reputedly telephoned CIA Director John McCone promptly after the shooting and screamed, “Did the CIA kill my brother?” Yet Kennedy himself soon helped suppressing a full investigation for reasons intensely debated to this day.
Fact-finding in the 1960s has remained difficult. Law enforcement, intelligence, and military personnel typically operate in secrecy, as did relevant operatives suspected of involvement from the Mafia and from the Cuban exile community. Also, the investigation still arouses strong political, ideological, and other passions.