With the 50th anniversary of the Warren Commission being commemorated this year, I’ve had time to reflect upon just how their findings have affected generations past and present. For years I’ve wondered why they didn’t call key witnesses like my grandfather, Orville Nix, to testify. (Nix did give a statement to the FBI used by the Warren Commission, as did Bill and Gayle Newman, who weren’t called to testify before the Commission either). I’ve wondered why they didn’t do a more detailed study of the Nix film. I’ve wondered why they didn’t ask key questions. I’ve wondered why Robert Surrey, General Edwin Walker’s aide, exercised his Fifth Amendment Rights each time he was asked a question. I’ve wondered why Larry Crafard, Jack Ruby’s janitor has the longest interview in the whole tome.
And then it hit me.
All of those wonderments I have had for years fit into the tenets of the Katzenbach Memo that was drafted by J. Edgar Hoover days after the assassination:
“The thing I am most concerned about, and Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so that they can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
That was the genesis of the Warren Commission.
They began their investigation with Oswald’s guilt and ensuring that the public (those of us who wonder) were convinced of his guilt. It worked for many. There are still people who believe the Warren Commission got it right. The Warren Commission members utilized the “Dumbing Down” approach, a term coined by motion picture screenplay writers in the 30’s. “Dumbing down” meant in their terms, “to revise so as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence.”
Many of the people who lived in the early 60’s hadn’t had the chance to get an education. College was special. Many couldn’t go because of the expense. The generation of the early 60’s was a mix of people who had lived through the Depression. They had served in World War II or the Korean War. Some were burgeoning activists or “hippies”. Most felt that by questioning a presidentially appointed commission, they would be committing moral treason. No one wanted to feel that way. My grandfather didn’t want to, but couldn’t help it. He knew where he had heard shots come from….the grassy knoll. Yet the Warren Commission wasn’t about to broach that subject. Maybe that’s why he and the Newmans weren’t called to testify. Both had said the shots came from someplace other than where Lee Harvey Oswald was: The Texas School Book Depository.
Their conclusions did nothing but stoke the fires of the Harold Weisbergs, Jones Harrises, Sylvia Meaghers and Mary Ferrells of the day. And that’s why I’m thankful! Many of these early JFK investigators knew that something was wrong by 2:00 PM CST on November 22, 1963. The Warren Commission didn’t succeed in dumbing these people down. In fact, without the millions of tax payer dollars, time and lines of questioning the Warren Commission squandered, we wouldn’t know all the things we know today. For instance:
- We now know that members of the CIA, FBI and Secret Service were complicit in withholding information about the assassination.
- We know the US government hired people to assassinate Fidel Castro.
- We know that a Warren Commission outline was made before Marina Oswald (the first witness to be interviewed) was ever called to testify implicating Lee Harvey Oswald as the Lone Assassin.
- We know there were problems with the autopsy reports.
- We know about INTERPEN, Operations Mockingbird, Paperclip, Northwoods and MKULTRA and Alpha 66.
- And much, much more
For these things I am thankful. The Warren Commission tried to convince us of their mission, but the truth always wins out in the end. We know truths about our government that are not what our founding fathers would have liked. You can see the lies our government has told us in the RFK and MLK assassinations. You can see it in Watergate, Iran-Contra and every scandal that has occurred in EVERY presidential term since JFK’s death. (We just weren’t aware of the ones before) And thanks to the Warren Commission, we know there was a conspiracy to kill the President. You don’t need me to tell you, just read it. Thank you Warren Commission!