Jeff Morley gave a very inspirational keynote speech at the recent JFK Lancer conference in Dallas, among the points he made was that we have another major anniversary coming up in 2014 – the 50th anniversary of the Warren Commission Report.  His call for an effort to counter the evidence entered into the record by the Warren Commission, as well as its conclusion, has triggered a good deal of thought as to how to best do that in the coming year.  Hopefully that effort will proceed aggressively – and include a variety of mechanisms for communicating fundamental objections to both the Commissions inquiry and the summary which it offered the nation.

What struck me most recently however was today’s NBC article quoting Judge Tunheim on the work of the Assassinations Records Review Board.  The article states that the ARRB was “aimed at piercing the persistent secrecy surrounding the crime”.  That wording might lead the casual reader to assume that the Board was something of an investigative body – when it clearly was a focused and time limited effort to identify and release documents and records pertaining to the crime, which had not been placed in the public record.  We have heard on numerous occasions, from the ARRB staff and its senior members, that it was not an investigation and certainly not a conspiracy inquiry.  Therefore it puzzles me to find Judge Tunheim stating the following in the article:

“I look back to the hard evidence of the case, the real evidence, the evidence admissible in court, and all of that points to Oswald acting alone,” Tunheim

Did Tunhim really review the legality of the evidence recorded by the Warren Commission?  Did he question or interact with the professionals, lawyers and and historians who have documented major problems with many areas not only of the evidence itself but also the validity of a considerable amount of FBI testimony accepted by the Commission? Did he review the Edgewood Arsenal ballistics test which rebutted the CE399 single bullet scenario?  If so such a comprehensive review would surely come as a surprise to a great many researchers who were repeatedly told that that ARRB was not engaged in reexamining the actual investigations but simply searching for documents.   It certainly be interesting and useful to know what specific evidential review that the Judge conducted.

Regardless of that, the Judge’s remarks suggest to me that one of the key tasks that has to be undertaken going forward is to prepare a basic “challenge” specific items of evidence and testimony accepted by the Warren Commission. That work would involve not only issues such as chains of evidence but the validity of certain scientific and technical tests used to justify their conclusions – some of which are not even admissible in court any longer. It would also involve “expert” testimony accepted by the Commission which is now questionable.  This sort of exercise needs to be done to present an objective view of the Warren Commission investigation upon the anniversary of its report.  If, as I expect, a “reasonable doubt” case can be made that the Commission’s work does not stand as truly conclusive, then the murder will not be quite so conveniently closed to history.  The Judge makes a good point about the importance of legally admissible evidence, with some work it may well be possible to present he and the public with a legally oriented, contrary view. The sort of view that would have been given in court if the crime had actually been pursed within our legal system.

After all, the Warren Commission did “historically” convict a single individual, unaided and uninfluenced by any other parties in the crime – however as Mark Lane pointed out from the very beginning, in reality the Commission acted as prosecution in the matter (just as the FBI had decided within 48 hours to wrap up its investigation and present a “report” on Oswald’s sole guilt). There never was a defense counsel in place to challenge either the FBI or Commission’s evidence.  The prosecution established the accepted body of evidence, there were no “defense” objections, challenges or alternatives entered into the record. Surely in the interest of fairness, such challenges ought to be before the public on the 50th Anniversary of the Warren Commission’s report.

 

About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

3 responses »

  1. Gerry Simone says:

    There was a staff lawyer who was supposed to act in the interest of the accused, Lee H. Oswald, but he hardly showed up. I don’t recall his name off the top of my head.

    I also thought that Jeff Morley’s speech at the banquet was very inspirational and tell my friends is a must see.

    • Gerry, I have to admit I have only a very vague recollection of a staff lawyer being assigned to act in Oswald’s “interest”, certainly there is no record of any evidential challenges being offered internally and there are instances of staff simply overriding or ignoring the findings controversial findings – such as that of the Edgewood studies. Beyond that we know that the FBI provided information to the commission that is contradicted within its own internal inquires and memos.

      Of course Mark Lane did raise the issue of a defense for Oswald and was given some superficial access to the commission, however he certainly was never allowed to play the true role of a defense attorney, much less to review and offer formal challenges to the evidence admitted into the report.

      All in all, with what we now know, a through challenge to the commissions practices and evidence should be easy to assemble and totally damming to its conclusion. I hope that effort can be pulled together in the next few months so that the challenge can be offered to the public on the 50th anniversary of the report.

      • Gerry Simone says:

        Me too. I believe his name is mentioned in the forward section of the WCR. But your right that there’s no record or mention of any ‘evidential challenges’ as you put it. Apparently, that staff lawyer rubber-stamped everything. I will try to look his name up.

        Thank you for your reply and have a Happy New Year.

        P.S. Last night, I cracked open my special editions DVD package of JFK that includes a second DVD full of commentary, etc. including those by Jim DiEugenio. I had for a few years and just saw it last night. Great stuff.

        Certainly can understand why Legacy of Secrecy does not give a full picture as to the magnitude of the conspiracy and cover-up.

        Also reading Reclaiming Parkland. (I already have your book Someone Talked).

        Gerry Simone

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