The unaccountability of government has gone to the point
where the very use of the law is the instrument of illegality.
--Ralph Nader @ Harvard Law School, 1/15/92
This post is an introduction to the book,
How and Why the Warren Commission Framed Lee Harvey Oswald
A factual account based on the Commission's public and private documents
© 1976, by Howard Roffman
It includes some excerpts from the Preface, Introduction, and Conclusion. In the fifteen-plus years since I began reading about the assassination of President Kennedy, one of the most obvious (yet consistently denied) facts about the twisted "official mythology" is the issue of who killed JFK. This matter was never resolved because the crime itself was never legitimately investigated. Period. If Lee Oswald had lived to stand trial, the prosecution would NOT have been able to convict him of the murder in the way the "The Warren Commission Show"--in the minds of enough people--was able to do.
This is THE BOOK to read for the best detailed and comprehensive explanation of how Lee Oswald could not have killed President Kennedy as the official reality consortium--acting through the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations and state press/corporate media--claim he did. Using as documentation the Commission's once-secret working papers, Howard Roffman meticulously demonstrates how at every turn, the Warren Commission's entire approach was based upon the presumption of Lee Oswald's guilt. It didn't matter to the Commission that the preponderance of facts in the case didn't support this presumption. Roffman sums up the devastating result of "working backwards" from such a pre-judged conclusion:
. . . when the Commissioners decided in advance that the wrong man was the lone assassin, whatever their intentions, they protected the real assassins. Through their staff they misinformed the American people and falsified history.
Near the end of the Preface, Roffman articulates some of the fundamental implications that must be confronted by every citizen in a situation where those in power consciously choose to betray the trust of the people they are sworn to serve:
My political maturity began to develop only in the past few years; all of my research on the assassination was conducted while I was a teenager. Yet the basic knowledge that my government could get away with what it did at the murder of a president made me fearful of the future. On October 10, 1971, when I was eighteen years old, I wrote what I hoped would be the last letter in a long and fruitless correspondence with a lawyer who had participated in the official cover-up as an investigator for the Warren Commission. I concluded that letter with these words:
I ask myself if this country can survive when men like you, who are supposed to represent law and justice, are the foremost merchants of official falsification, deceit, and criminality.
It was to take three years and the worst political crisis in our history for the press and the public to even begin to awaken to the great dangers a democracy faces when lawyers are criminals.
Previous to this, Roffman quotes Harold Weisberg, one of the leading "first generation" assassination researchers, and expands on the meaning of his words:
If the government can manufacture, suppress and lie when a President is cut down--and get away with it--what cannot follow? Of what is it not capable, regardless of motive...?
This government did manufacture, suppress and lie when it pretended to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
If it can do that, it can do anything.
And will, if we let it.
Weisberg, in effect, warned that the executive would inevitably commit wrongdoing beyond imagination so long as there was no institution of government or society that was willing to stop it. That one man of modest means could make this simple deduction in 1966 is less a credit to him than it is an indictment of a whole system of institutions that failed in their fundamental responsibility to society.
There are people who continue to cling to the belief that the Warren Commission's and the House Select Committee on Assassinations' conclusions were and are essentially sound, and that Lee Oswald, firing 3 shots from the sixth floor window, wounded Governor Connally and killed President Kennedy. The powers that be will continue to attempt to prop up such lies only so long as we the people continue to allow them to do so by our own cultural propensity for denial. One of the nation's founders (was it Jefferson?) said something to the effect that in order for a democracy to remain vital and not become co-opted by concentrated wealth and power, a revolution ought to be joined every 19 years or so. We are LONG overdue for our own.
In the final analysis, anything which is held in secrecy, is held above accountability. Working in secret the Commission staff was able to conduct their deliberations in a manner that was at odds with the facts in the case. Such unaccountability, from the highest levels of authority on down, has become the sine qua non of our society and "way of life." The trappings of a "constitutional democratic republic" still exist and are touted by corporate and elected leaders to serve their own ends, but the reality is that these symbols are largely hollow and have been uniformly pre-empted by inherently anti-democratic principles, policies and laws. The crimes that have been committed under the rubric of "national security" at least equal anything the Nazis ever attempted. They are all the more hideous primarily because "we the people" are not "allowed" to know about their breadth and depth which is a fundamental prerequisite to addressing their consequences (like the more than 74,000 toxic waste dumps listed by the EPA's Superfund some years ago, created secretly and beyond accountability by the military-industrial complex) and stopping and dealing with their perpetrators.
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The remainder of this introduction consists of excerpts taken from the book itself. A PostScript version of the complete book (minus the actual photographs and drawings) is also available for those with access to a PostScript-saavy printer for "prettified" hardcopy output.
. . . from the very beginning of its investigation, the Commission planned its work under the presumption that Oswald was guilty, and the staff consciously endeavored to construct a prosecution case against Oswald. One Commission member actually complained to the staff that he wanted to see more arguments in support of the theory that Oswald was the assassin. There could have been no more candid admission of how fraudulent the "investigation" was than when a staff lawyer secretly wrote, "Our intention is not to establish the point with complete accuracy, but merely to substantiate the hypothesis which underlies the conclusions that Oswald was the sole assassin." In its zeal to posthumously frame Oswald--and falsify history--the staff often considered ludicrous methods of avoiding the facts--as in the suggestion of one staff lawyer that "the best evidence that Oswald could fire as fast as he did and hit the target is the fact that he did so." (pp. 249-250)
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Without a doubt, the falsehoods and misrepresentations disseminated by the government and the media concerning the assassination of President Kennedy are as odious in our society as the assassination itself. The freedoms guaranteed under the law are without meaning unless the people are honestly and competently informed. Indeed, when a government can get away with whitewashing the truth about a president's murder, the suggestion of authoritarianism is more than apparent. (pp. 23-24)
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. . . Throughout that hectic weekend, the Dallas Police made repeated public accusations of Oswald's guilt. Oswald steadfastly maintained that he was innocent and said he would prove it when he was brought to trial. (p. 25)
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Whoever killed President John F. Kennedy got away with it because the Warren Commission, the executive commission responsible for investigating the murder, engaged in a cover-up of the truth and issued a report that misrepresented or distorted almost every relevant fact about the crime. The Warren Commission, in turn, got away with disseminating falsehood and covering up because virtually every institution in our society that is supposed to make sure that the government works properly and honestly failed to function in the face of a profound challenge; the Congress, the law, and the press all failed to do a single meaningful thing to correct the massive abuse committed by the Warren Commission. To anyone who understood these basic facts, and there were few who did, the frightening abuses of the Nixon Administration that have come to be known as "Watergate" were not unexpected and were surprising only in their nature and degree.
This is not a presumptuous statement. I do not mean to imply that anyone who knew what the Warren Commission did could predict the events that have taken place in the last few years. My point is that the reaction to the Warren Report, if properly understood, demonstrated that our society had nothing that could be depended upon to protect it from the abuses of power that have long been inherent in the Presidency. The dynamics of our system of government are such that every check on the abuse of power is vital; if the executive branch were to be trusted as the sole guardian of the best interests of the people, we would not have a constitution that divides power among three branches of government to act as checks on each other, and we would need no Bill of Rights. Power invites abuses and excesses, and at least since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, an enormous amount of power has been assumed and acquired by the president.
Political deception is an abuse that democracy invites; in a system where the leaders are ultimately accountable to the people, where their political future is decided by the people, there is inevitably the temptation to deceive, to speak with the primary interest of pleasing the people and preserving political power. There probably has not been a president who has not lied for political reasons. I need only cite some more recent examples:
Franklin Roosevelt assured the parents of America in October 1940 that "your boys are not going to be sent into foreign wars"; at the time he knew that American involvement in World War II was inevitable, even imminent, but he chose not to be frank with the people for fear of losing the 1940 election.
Dwight Eisenhower in 1960 denied that the American aircraft shot down by the Russians over their territory was a spy-plane, when he and the Russians knew very well that the plane, a U-2, had been on a CIA reconnaissance flight;
John F. Kennedy had the American ambassador at the United Nations deny that the unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs was an American responsibility when exactly the opposite was true.
So, deception and cover-up per se did not originate with the Warren Commission in 1964 or the Nixon administration in 1972. They had always been an unfortunate part of our political system. With the Warren Commission they entered a new and more dangerous phase. Never before, to my knowledge, had there been such a systematic plan for a cover-up, or had such an extensive and pervasive amount of deception been attempted. And certainly never before had our government collaborated to deny the public the true story of how its leader was assassinated.
In the face of this new and monumental abuse of authority by the executive, all the institutions that are supposed to protect society from such abuses failed and, in effect, helped perpetrate the abuse itself. As with Watergate, numerous lawyers were involved with the Warren Commission; in neither case did these lawyers act as lawyers. Rather, they participated in a cover-up and acted as accessories in serious crimes. The Congress accepted the Warren Report as the final solution to the assassination and thus acquiesced in the cover-up of a President's murder. And, perhaps most fundamentally, the press failed in its responsibility to the people and became, in effect, an unofficial mouthpiece of the government. For a short time the press publicized some of the inconsistencies between the Warren Report's conclusions and the evidence; yet never did the press seriously question the legitimacy of the official findings on the assassination or attempt to ascertain why the Johnson administration lied about the murder that brought it into power and what was hidden by those lies. (pp. 9-11)
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In its approach, operations and Report, the Commission considered one possibility alone -- that Lee Harvey Oswald, without assistance, assassinated the President and killed Officer Tippit. Never has such a tremendous array of power been turned against a single man, and he was dead. Yet even without opposition the Commission failed. . . .Perhaps the simplest statement of the context enunciated by Weisberg is contained in the quotation that I included in the Preface of this book: "If the government can manufacture, suppress and lie when a President is cut down -- and get away with it -- what cannot follow?" (pp. 32-33)
A crime such as the assassination of the President of the United States cannot be left as the Report . . . has left it, without even the probability of a solution, with assassins and murderers free, and free to repeat their crimes and enjoy what benefits they may have expected to enjoy therefrom. No President is ever safe if Presidential assassins are exculpated. Yet that is what the Commission has done. In finding Oswald "guilty," it has found those who assassinated him "innocent." If the President is not safe, then neither is the country.
Much more does it relate to each individual American, to the integrity of the institutions of our society, when anything happens to any president -- especially when he is assassinated.
The consignment of President John F. Kennedy to history with the dubious epitaph of the whitewashed investigation is a grievous event.
Above all, the Report leaves in jeopardy the rights of all Americans and the honor of the nation. When what happened to Oswald once he was in the hands of the public authority can occur in this country with neither reprimand nor question, no one is safe. When the Federal government puts its stamp of approval on such unabashed and open denial of the most basic legal rights of any American, no matter how insignificant he may be, then no American can depend on having those rights, no matter what his power or connections. The rights of all Americans, as the Commission's chairman said when wearing his Chief Justice's hat, depend upon each American's enjoyment of these same rights.
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I support the movement toward a new investigation, but the vital question now concerns what should be investigated. A congressional reopening of the case should focus on those areas which will yield meaningful findings and serve a constructive national purpose. Such an investigation would inevitably have to deal with the question of "Who killed Kennedy?" However, my own familiarity with the evidence leads me to believe that an inquiry limited only to that question would be doomed to achieving very little. The major question at this point is "Who covered up the truth about the murder, how, and why?" A congressional investigation could establish with little effort that the Warren Report's "solution" of the crime is erroneous; the Commission's files, as well as the files of other federal agencies, would provide a fertile starting point for the determination of responsibility in the cover-up. The participants in all stages of the official investigation of the assassination are either known or identifiable, and those individuals still living can be subjected to cross-examination. I do not personally believe that the federal investigators knew who killed President Kennedy. But the evidence is certain that decisions were made, at times and levels now unknown, that the truth about the assassination should not be discovered, that falsehood should be disseminated to the people. When such decisions are made by the government, the Congress has a reason, indeed an obligation, to investigate and to assure that the executive is made to account. (pp. 30-31)
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Once it is established that Oswald's rifle was not involved in the shooting, there is not a shred of tangible or credible evidence to indicate that Oswald was the assassin. The evidence proves exactly the opposite.
The circumstantial evidence relating to Oswald himself is almost entirely exculpatory. Every element of it was twisted by the Commission to fit the preconceived conclusion of Oswald's guilt. I have documented that, through its staff and its Report, the Commission:
Drew undue suspicion to Oswald's return to Irving on November 21, although the evidence indicated that Oswald did not know the motorcade route and broke no set pattern in making the return;
Ignored all evidence that could have provided an innocent excuse for Oswald's visit;
Wrongly discredited the reliable and consistent testimony of the only two witnesses who saw the package Oswald carried to work on the morning of the assassination; because their descriptions meant that the package could not have contained the rifle, the Commission claimed to have made this rejection on the basis of "scientific evidence," which did not exist;
Concluded that Oswald made a paper sack to conceal the rifle, citing no evidence in support of this notion and suppressing evidence that tended to disprove it;
Concluded that the sack was used to transport the rifle, although its evidence proved that the sack never contained the rifle;
Used the testimony of Charles Givens to placed [sic] Oswald at the alleged source of the shots 35 minutes too early, even though Givens described an event that physically could not have taken place;
Claimed to know of no Depository employee who saw Oswald between 11:55 and 12:30, basing its claim on an inquiry in which it (through General Counsel Rankin) had the FBI determine whether any employee had seen Oswald only at 12:30, completely suppressing from the Report three distinct pieces of evidence indicating Oswald's presence on the first floor during the period in question.
Failed to produce any witness who could identify the sixth-floor gunman as Oswald; both rejected and accepted the identification of one man who admitted lying to the police, who constantly contradicted himself, and who described physically impossible events; and ignored evidence of clothing descriptions that might have indicated that Oswald was not the gunman;
Reconstructed the movements of Baker and Truly in such a way as to lengthen the time of their ascent to the second floor;
Reconstructed the movements of the "assassin" so as to greatly reduce the time of his presumed descent; a valid reconstruction would have proved that a sixth- floor gunman could not have reached the second-floor lunch-room before Baker and Truly;
Misrepresented Baker's position at the time he saw Oswald entering the lunchroom, making it seem possible that Oswald could have just descended from the third floor, although, in fact, the events described by Baker and Truly prove that Oswald must have been coming up from the first floor (as Oswald himself told the police he did);
Misrepresented the nature of the assassination shots by omitting from its evaluation the time factor and other physical obstacles, thus making it seem that the shots were easy and that Oswald could have fired them;
Misrepresented the evidence relevant to Oswald's rifle capability and practice, creating the impression that he was a good shot with much practice, although the evidence indicated exactly the opposite. The conclusion dictated by all this evidence en masse is inescapable and overwhelming: Lee Harvey Oswald never fired a shot at President Kennedy; he was not even at the Depository window during the assassination; and no one fired his rifle, the Mannlicher-Carcano, on that day. Beyond any doubt, he is innocent of the monstrous crime with which he was charged and of which he was presumed guilty. The official presumption of his guilt effectively cut off any quest for truth and led to the abandonment of the principles of law and honest investigation. At all costs, the government has denied (and, to judge from its record, will continue to deny) Oswald's innocence and perpetuated the myth of his lone guilt.
With this, a thousand other spiders emerge from the walls.
It can now be inferred that Oswald was framed; he was deliberately set up as the Kennedy assassin. His rifle was found in the Depository. We know that it had to have been put there; we also know that it was not Oswald who put it there. Someone else did.
We know that a whole bullet traceable to Oswald's rifle turned up at Parkland Hospital; we also know that this bullet was never in the body of either victim. Someone had to have planted it at the hospital. The same applies to the two identifiable fragments found in the front seat of the President's limousine.
We know that someone shot and killed President Kennedy; we also know that Oswald did not do this. The real presidential murderers have escaped punishment through our established judicial channels, their crime tacitly sanctioned by those who endeavored to prove Oswald guilty. The after-the-fact framing of Oswald by the federal authorities means, in effect, that the federal government has conspired to protect those who conspired to kill President Kennedy.
It is not my responsibility to explain why the Commission did what it did, and I would deceive the reader if I made the slightest pretense that it was within my capability to provide such an explanation. I have presented the facts; no explanation of motives, be they the highest and the purest or the lowest and the most corrupt, will alter those facts or undo what the Commission indisputably has done.
The government has lied about one of the most serious crimes that can be committed in a democracy. Having lied without restraint about the death of a president, it can not be believed on anything. It has sacrificed its credibility.
Remedies are not clearly apparent or easily suggested. Certainly, Congress has an obligation to investigate this monumental abuse by the executive. But first and foremost, the people must recognize that they have been lied to by their government and denied the truth about the murder of their former leader. They must demand the truth, whatever the price, and insist that their government work honestly and properly.
Until then, the history of one of the world's most democratic nations must suffer the stigma of a frighteningly immoral and undemocratic act by its government. (pp. 251-255)
yer friendly neighborhood ratman
ko.yan.nis.qatsi (from the Hopi Language) n. 1. crazy life. 2. life
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