Questions on the assassination

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The Commission of the President (AKA The Warren Commission)

With Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States of America, as Chairman, this Commision was appointed Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States to inquire into the John Fitzgerald Kennedy assassination. The FBI and the Secret service assisted it in this inquiry.

The Commission was composed of:
Chief Justice Warren



James Earl Warren


Richard B. Russel


John Sherman Cooper


Hale Boggs


Gerald R. Ford


Allen W. Dulles


John J. McCloy


The commission was assisted in its work by advisers. Here is the list:



J. Lee Rankin

General advisor

Francis W. H. Adams


John A. Ball


David W. Belin


William T. Coleman


Melvin A. Eisenberg


Burt W. Griffin


Leon D. Hubert


Albert E. Jenner


Weisley G. Liebeler


Norman Redlich


William D. Slawson


Arlen Specter


Samuel A. Stern


Howard P Willens


In addition, a staff of 11 members strengthened the Warren commission.

By the end of 1964, The Commission made public its conclusions:

The Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald:

1) Owned and possessed the rifle used to kill President Kennedy and wound Governor Connally,

2) Brought this rifle into the Depository Building on the morning of the assassination,

3) Was present, at the time of the assassination, at the window from which the shots were fired,

4) Killed Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit in an apparent attempt to escape,

5) Resisted arrest by drawing a fully loaded pistol and attempting to shoot another police officer,

6) Lied to the police after his arrest concerning important substantive matters,

7) Attempted, in April 1963, to kill Maj. General Edwin A. Walker, and

8) Possessed the capability with a rifle which would have enabled him to commit the assassination.

On the basis of these findings the Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin of President Kennedy.

Many critics still remain regarding the final report provided by the Warren commission. Admittedly, the work carried out by its members is incomplete and too limited to check the assumption of a lone gunman acting: Lee Harvey Oswald.

Shortly after its publishing, many critics pointed out the contradictions of the report. Among them, Leo Sauvage, the French correspondent for "Le Figaro" in the United States already was questioning the conclusions of the President Commission:

"The Warren Commsision's Case Against Oswald" (Leo Sauvage, The New Leader, 22 November 1965)

"Oswald's Case Against the Warren Commission" (Leo Sauvage, The New Leader, 20 December 1965)

"The Case Against Mr. X" (Leo Sauvage, The New Leader, 3 January 1966)

However, it would be unfair to reject the entire responsibility of the lack of the investigation on the lone Commission. Its members were submitted to important constraints and they had not enough time to investigate and check all reports and files provided by the FBI and the Secret Service. In addition, most of the members of this Commission had their own professional work and they were not completely available to inquire into the assassination. Therefore, the members of the Commission relied almost exclusively upon the conclusions of the FBI and the Secret Service. The strength of this Commission was not fitted to be able to inquire into some informations and facts not clearly investigated by them.

Despite the fact that some points still remained unclarified at the moment Earl Warren gave his report to the President Johnson by the end of 1964, the Commission could not be held for the lone responsible. The federal authority and particularly those who were in charge to support the Commission in its work had their part of responsibility. The atmosphere of the time and the absolute need to name the assassin can explain the rush of the American authorities. The traumatism in the opinion was such important that the knowledge of a lone gunman having acted without help of anyone was reassuring.

The conclusion according to which Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone meant that President Kennedy had not been assassinated as a result of a plot and consequently the American people should be releived. That is the reason why the work of the Commission could only be incomplete and questionable since it mainly investigated the assumption of the lone gunman acting. Nevertheless, one should read the report and the Coimmission hearings before any critics.

- The report can be read on line at :

- Regarding the hearings, a wide range of testimonies are also available at :

That is the best way to get a personal opinion on it and to assess the work of the Warren commission.

© Pierre NAU (2000 - 2014)