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In general, Redlich is vaguer than Goldberg in his listing of those "facts" which should be presented to support the conclusion of Oswald’s guilt. However, he does specify what he considers to be "evidence of Oswald carrying weapon to building." One factor, he wrote, was the "fake curtain rod story." Yet, when Redlich submitted this outline, no investigation had been conducted into the veracity of the "curtain rod story." The first information relevant to this is contained in an FBI report dated March 28 ( 24 H 460-61 ) , and it was not until the last day in August that further inquiry was made ( CE 2640 ).

The pattern is consistent.
The Commission outlined its work and concluded that Oswald was guilty before it did any investigation or took any testimony. The Report was outlined, including a chapter concluding that Oswald was guilty, before the bulk of the Commission’s work was completed. Most notably, these conclusions were drafted before the staff arranged a series of tests that were to demonstrate whether the official theories about how the shooting occurred were physically possible. A series of ballistics tests using Oswald’s rifle, and an on-site reconstruction of the crime in Dealey Plaza were conducted in May; the Report was outlined in March.

As late as the middle of May, long after the Commission and the staff had decided, in advance of analyzing the evidence, that Oswald was guilty, Commission member McCloy expressed his feeling that the conclusion as to Oswald’s guilt was not being pursued with enough vigor by the staff. McCloy was not interested in a fair and objective report. This story was related by David Belin in his memorandum of May 15, which described his trip to Dallas with certain Commission members, McCloy included. One night in Dallas, Belin persuaded McCloy to read "Ball-Belin Report # 1," which by then was almost three months old. Belin recounts McCloy’s reactions:

He seemed to misunderstand the basic purpose of the report, for he suggested that we did not point up enough arguments to show why Oswald was the assassin. . . . Commissioner McCloy did state that in the final report he thought that we should be rather complete in developing reasons and affirmative statements why Oswald was the assassin—he did not believe that it should just merely be a factual restatement of what we had found.

The Warren Report asserted that the Commission functioned not "as a prosecutor determined to prove a case, but as a fact finding agency committed to the ascertainment of the truth." This statement is clearly a misrepresentation of the Commission’s real position, as expressed in private by McCloy when he told Belin that he wanted a report that argued a prosecution case, and not simply "a factual restatement."

The Dallas Police and the FBI both announced their "conclusion" before it could have been adequately substantiated by facts and, in so doing, almost irrevocably prejudiced the American public against Oswald and thwarted an honest and unbiased investigation. 

The Commission operated under a facade of impartiality. Yet it examined the evidence—and subsequently presented it—on the premise that Oswald was guilty, a premise openly stated in secret staff memoranda and reinforced when the members met in secret sessions. Its premise taken well before it had heard its first witness or examined its first piece of evidence.

Now, as the curtain of secrecy that once sheltered the working papers of the investigation is lifted, the ugly and improper presumption of guilt becomes obvious. 

"Today there can be no doubt that, despite their assurances of impartiality, the Commission and its staff consciously planned and executed their work under the presumption that Oswald was guilty. The once-secret working papers of the Commission explicitly reveal the prejudice of the entire investigation."  

( Howard Roffman, Presumed Guilty, pg.80 )

Outlines for the Final Report

 The Warren Report was not completed until late in September 1964, with hearings and investigations extending into the period during which the Report was set in type. Yet outlines for the final Report were drawn up as early as mid-March. These outlines demonstrate that Oswald’s guilt was a definite conclusion at the time that sworn testimony was first being taken by the Commission.

The first outline was submitted to Rankin at his request by staff lawyer Alfred Goldberg on approximately March 14, according to notations on the outline. Under Goldberg’s plan, Chapter Four of the Commission’s report would be entitled "Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin." Goldberg elaborated:

This section should state the facts which lead to the conclusion that Oswald pulled the trigger and should indicate the elements in the case which have either not been proven or are based on doubtful testimony. Each of the facts listed below should be reviewed in that light.

The "facts" mentioned by Goldberg are precarious. Indeed,
as of March 14, 1964, no testimony had been adduced on almost all of the "facts" that Goldberg outlined as contributing to the "conclusion that Oswald pulled the trigger." 

Goldberg felt that this chapter of the Report should identify Oswald’s rifle "as the murder weapon." Under this category he listed "Ballistics" and "Capability of Rifle." Yet the first ballistics testimony was not heard by the Commission until March 31 ( 3 H 390 ). 

Another of Goldberg’s categories is "Evidence of Oswald Carrying Weapon to Texas School Book Depository." Here he does not specify which evidence he had in mind. However, the expert testimony that might have supported the thesis that Oswald carried his rifle to work on the morning of the assassination was not adduced until April 2 and 3 ( 4 H 1 ). 

This pattern runs through several other factors that Goldberg felt established Oswald’s guilt before they were scrutinized by the Commission or the staff. To illustrate: "Testimony of eyewitnesses and employees on fifth floor"—this testimony was not taken until March 24, at which time the witnesses contradicted several of their previous statements to the federal authorities ( 3 H 161 ); "Medical testimony"—the autopsy surgeons testified on March 16 ( 2 H 347 ), and medical/ballistics testimony concerning tests with Oswald’s rifle was not taken until mid-May ( 5 H 74 ); "Eyewitness Identification of Oswald Shooting Rifle"—only one witness claimed to make such an identification, and he gave testimony on March 24 ( 3 H 140 ) that was subsequently rejected by the Commission ( R145-46 ).

On March 26, staff lawyer Norman Redlich submitted another outline of the final Report to Rankin; in almost all respects, Redlich’s outline is identical with Goldberg’s. Chapter Four is entitled "Lee H. Oswald as the Assassin," with the notation that "this section should state the facts which lead to the conclusion that Oswald pulled the trigger. . . ." 

Belin could not have been more explicit: Three shots were fired and Oswald, whatever his motive, fired them all. Of course, at that point Belin could not possibly have proved that Oswald was the assassin. He merely presumed it and worked on that basis.

Two subject headings in this outline are of  concern here: "(II) Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy and (III) Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives." Thus, it is apparent that the Commission did, from the very beginning, plan its work with a distinct bias. It would evaluate the evidence from the perspective of "Oswald as the assassin of President Kennedy," and it would search for his "possible motives."

This memo reveals in detail the extent to which the conclusion of Oswald’s guilt was pre-determined. Section II, "Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy," begins by outlining Oswald’s movements on the day of the assassination. Under the heading "Murder of Tippit," there is the subheading
"Evidence demonstrating Oswald’s guilt."

Another heading under Section II of the outline is "
Evidence Identifying Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy," again a presumptive designation made by a commission that had not yet analyzed a single bit of evidence. The listings of evidence under this heading are sketchy and hardly conclusive, and further reveal the biases of the Commission. Some of the evidence that was to "identify Oswald as the assassin" was "prior similar acts: a) General Walker attack, b) General Eisenhower threat." Thus we learn that Oswald was also presumed guilty in the attempted shooting of the right-wing General Walker in April 1963.

Under the additional heading "Evidence Implicating Others in Assassination or Suggesting Accomplices," the Commission was to consider only the possibility that others worked with Oswald in planning or executing the assassination. The outline further reveals that it had been concluded in advance that Oswald had no accomplices, for the last category under this heading suggests that the evidence be evaluated for the "refutation of allegations."

According to this initial outline of its work, the Commission had decided to investigate Oswald’s motives for killing the President before it determined whether Oswald had in fact been involved in the assassination in any capacity.

But J. Lee Rankin wasn't the only Commission lawyer presuming Oswald's guilt before hearing any witnesses or seeing any evidence.

The staff, working under the direction of Rankin, was likewise predisposed to the conclusion that Oswald was guilty. Staff lawyer W. David Slawson wrote a memorandum dated January 27 concerning the "timing of rifle shots." He suggested that:

In figuring the timing of the rifle shots, we should take into account the distance travelled by the Presidential car between the first and third shots. This tends to shorten the time slightly during which Oswald would have had to pull the trigger three times on his rifle. (emphasis added)

At this early point in the investigation, long before any of the relevant testimony had been adduced, Slawson was positive that Oswald "pulled the trigger three times on his rifle."

Another staff lawyer, Arlen Specter, expressed the bias of the investigation in a memorandum, dated January 30, in which he offered suggestions for the questioning of Oswald’s widow, Marina.

Specter felt that certain questions "might provide some insight on whether Oswald learned of the motorcade route from newspapers." He added that "perhaps [Oswald] was inspired, in part by President Kennedy’s anti-Castro speech which was reported on November 19 on the front page of the Dallas Times Herald." The implication here is obvious that the President’s speech "inspired" Oswald to commit the assassination. Again, it must be emphasized that until Oswald’s guilt was a proven fact, which it was not at the time these memoranda were composed, it was mere folly to investigate the factors that supposedly "inspired" Oswald. 

Such fraudulent investigative efforts demonstrate that Oswald’s guilt was taken for granted.

Rankin had assigned teams of two staff lawyers each to evaluate the evidence according to the five divisions of his "Tentative Outline." Working in Area II, "Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy," were Joseph Ball as the senior lawyer and David Belin as the junior. 

On January 30, Belin wrote a very revealing memorandum to Rankin, concerning "Oswald’s knowledge that Connally would be in the Presidential car and his intended target." This memorandum leaves no doubt that Belin was quite sure of Oswald’s guilt before he began his assigned investigation. He wrote:

"In determining the accuracy of Oswald, we have three major possibilities: Oswald was shooting at Connally and missed two of the three shots, two misses striking Kennedy; Oswald was shooting at both Kennedy and Connally and all three shots struck their intended targets; Oswald was shooting only at Kennedy and the second bullet missed its intended target and hit Connally instead."

Proof the Warren Commission Predetermined Oswald's Guilt

".....this Commission ....... did not draw conclusions concerning Oswald's legal guilt." 
( Report, pg. 375 )

 

The proof that the Warren Commission predetermined Oswald's guilt comes in a series of outlines and inter-commission documents which were written before it had even heard its first witness or examined its first piece of evidence.

NOTE: The Commission didn't hear testimony from its first witness ( Marina Oswald ) until February 3, 1964 .

The first of these documents predetermining Oswald's guilt is a "Tentative Outline" which was prepared by General Counsel J. Lee Rankin and attached to a "Progress Report" dated January 11, 1964, from Commission Chairman Earl Warren to the other Commission members, and reveals the extent to which the Commission's conclusions were formulated prior to its investigation.