Thursday, March 11, 2010

Executive Session: January 22, 1964

I have read in a number of sources that the Warren Commission was doomed from the start and there were meeting notes to prove it. So, thanks to, I was able to obtain a copy of the official declassified transcript from the executive session meeting on January 22, 1964. The executive sessions were the closed-door meetings of the members of the Commission, and on this day, they were discussing what to do about rumors that Lee Harvey Oswald was an agent of US intelligence. You can read the 13-page transcript here.
It is on this date, in my opinion, that the Warren Commission's desire to seek the truth died. This meeting, which took place before the first witness was ever called, begins with general counsel James Lee Rankin alerting fellow members that rumors are surfacing in Dallas that Oswald was an undercover agent of the FBI. The Attorney General of Texas had called Rankin that morning because an unknown former FBI agent had told the defense counsel for Jack Ruby about Oswald and the FBI. The members discuss the means of proving or disproving this, concluding that even if it were true, the FBI would never admit it. Since the FBI was conducting the investigation, they controlled the flow of evidence. If this rumor were true, or even leaked to the public, the implications would be devastating for the Commission and the FBI. However, there were a number of members on the Commission expressed an interest in researching this further because there were elements of Oswald's life that didn't quite add up. For example, Gerald Ford pointed out that Oswald was "playing ball, writing letters to both the elements of the Communist parties. I mean he was playing ball with the Trotskyites and with the others. This was a strange circumstance to me." Rep. Dale Boggs suggested, "It is conceivable that [Oswald] may have been brought back from Russia." Even former Director of the CIA Allen Dulles thought there was more to this than meets the eye. He stated, referring to the FBI, "They have some people, sometimes American Communists who go to Russia under their guidance and so forth and so on under their control." I find this last quote odd, because the CIA had been running the false defector program. Was Dulles trying to turn the focus away from the CIA? Was Oswald working for both agencies without the other knowing about it?
The real disturbing news is found on pages 11-13, where it is admitted that the Commission knows that the FBI has already made up their mind that Oswald was the lone gunman and there was no conspiracy. Again, the FBI made this decision before the first witness was even called. Rankin notes that this is contrary to his past dealing with the FBI and that they have reached this conclusion without vetting the various leads in Mexico and Russia. Rankin concludes, "They found the man. There is nothing more to do. The Commission supports their conclusions, and we can go home and this is the end of it."
As if that is not egregious enough, the members decided that the record of this meeting should be destroyed. Lucky for us, someone decided against this and the record now exists. This document wasn’t declassified and released to the public until 1974, long after the Commission’s final report had been issued. We can only wonder what the public backlash would have been had this come out during the actual investigation. Perhaps then, the Commission wouldn’t have been able to ignore all the evidence, witnesses, and testimony that they did.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting post. I'm intrigued by this possibility that Oswald had a hand in multiple intelligence organizations.