Continuing with the theme of “sound bytes” for the 50th, the following might do as an opener for the conversation – surely most folks would be surprised by it.
We’ve discussed Hoover’s focusing the Bureau totally on Oswald in less than 24 hours after the shooting in Dallas (only hours after informing President Johnson that Oswald had been impersonated in Mexico City) and the fact that Saturday morning Hoover had also stated that the evidence against Oswald was not very strong and that it would be very hard to get a conviction – of course the killing of Oswald on Sunday morning preempted that particular problem.
But even more dramatic is that fact that within 48 hours, at FBI headquarters, Alan Belmont submitted a memo to deputy FBI chief Clyde Tolsen. Belmont concluded that only Oswald had been involved in the assassination and suggested that the investigation had been completed – in something less than two full days.
Belmont described setting forth the items of evidence presenting Oswald as the lone participant, noting that such a report would be “difficult” but that it would be “settling the dust” – a term similar to that which Warren Commission member John McCloy would later use in regard to the Warren Commission report.
It’s doubtful that the average person will accept that even the FBI of 1963 could truly resolve any and all open questions about conspiracy in a presidential assassination within 48 hours. But not only did they officially do that, Hoover began leaking the FBI reports conclusions to the media within days and the report itself was completed within some two weeks. Leaking of the FBI’s conclusion/position undeniably helped solidify the press position that Oswald had simply been a “lone nut.”
Of course there are a few basic issues with the report itself, such as the fact that the FBI’s shooting scenario specifically conflicts with that later developed by the Warren Commission – a pretty fundamental problem. That conflict would certainly have been an embarrassment for the prosecution if the murder had actually gone to trial. …yes ladies and gentleman, Lee Oswald shot the President, we’re not exactly sure how but trust us, he did.
So, the case that was problematic on Saturday morning became dead certain (albeit difficult) by Sunday morning, just as the impersonation of Saturday morning vanished by Sunday. I’m not sure this was a “rush to judgement” but it was certainly a rush, no doubt about that.