The high school answer to the question about the origins of the so-called Warren Commission states that President Lyndon Johnson was its creator by Executive Order 11130. While the answer is not technically wrong, it is weak and naïve. The true creators of the commission were the murderers who needed an official vehicle for propagating their cover-up.
Donald Gibson plowed fertile fields when he produced his story about the etiology of the Warren Commission for his 1999 book The Kennedy Assassination Cover-up. Using then recently released documents, he pieced together the steps taken by the murderers to invoke the commission, which required heavy lobbying of Johnson to change his mind about such an investigative body.
Johnson initially objected, believe it or not, on the constitutional grounds that the murder occurred within the state of Texas within the city of Dallas and was therefore properly a local matter, although he could see his way to insert FBI assistance into those investigations.
Whether Johnson truly objected to a presidential commission is hard to know for certain because he knew full well that Kennedy was murdered by a high level cabal of which he was a part. The very fact that Johnson ducked before the first shot was fired in the Dealey Plaza ambush is sufficient proof of the vice president's foreknowledge of the murder, and consequently its managers.
Perhaps Johnson opposed the federal approach because he felt that he could control events easier in Texas than he could in Washington - especially in the face of an adversarial national press. He may have believed that the fewer constitutional violations he made would in the end minimize closer scrutiny of the final product. In any event he fell into line within a period of about 2 days.
In the official documents, Johnson is found stating his strong objection to a federal investigation on November 24 and 25, 1963. However forces were soon arrayed against him which persuaded him to empanel The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy on November 29, 1963.
The murderers were petrified of numerous concurrent investigations on account of the possibility of them uncovering some or all of the truth. With the glare of television cameras, the investigation could easily go into directions proving most uncomfortable for The Establishment murderers who ordered the assassination of the president and who were prepared to go to any lengths to protect their secrets.
In fact one of the smoking guns proving that there was a conspiracy to murder the president was the desperate attempts to quell such rumors. Memos from Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach references these fears - especially in his famous November 25 memo making it clear that the public must be convinced that Oswald alone murdered the president. Why must the public be so convinced 3 days after the murder? The police can rarely solve a bank robbery in as much time, so why should a murder of the head of state of the most powerful nation on earth be solved so quickly? The imperative is clearly the result of a cover-up.
The men involved in changing the president's mind were part of a closely knit cabal of establishment eminences whose names include Joseph Alsop, Eugene Rostow, Dean Acheson, Nicholas Katzenbach, J Edgar Hoover, Abe Fortas, Katherine Graham, Dean Rusk, Bill Moyers, Alfred Friendly, and Russell Wiggins.
Gibson identifies Rostow as the source of the idea of a presidential commission, but it is entirely possible that the idea came from Acheson. Either way, neither Katzenbach nor Johnson were the sources of the idea, with the president requiring substantial persuasion by Alsop to turn the corner in relenting to the commission. We suspect that much of this was theater, but as noted above, Johnson only objected in detail rather than in substance to the idea of a cover-up.
Hoover, for his part, was opposed to the idea because he felt that with too many chefs in the kitchen something would go awry. The FBI director felt that an FBI report given directly to the president would be sufficient to shut down the matter quickly by asserting that Oswald was the lone assassin. Given Johnson's and Hoover's close relationship, it is natural that Johnson would side with his partner in crime in preferring an FBI-only solution to the cover-up.
Acheson however made it clear - in so many words - to Johnson that the purpose of the presidential commission was to launder FBI information. The FBI would gather information, and the commission would use or ignore it as needed to produce the a priori conclusions.
At the end of the day, the commission consisted of a majority of reliable participants in the murder and its cover-up. Allen Dulles, John J McCloy, Gerald Ford, and Earl Warren were the reliable members who would guarantee the pre-fabricated outcome. Token opposition would come from Long and Boggs, while Cooper offered fake opposition. None of the dissent was included in the final report contrary to assurances otherwise.
For those dear readers wondering why we refer to the president's commission as the so-called Warren commission, our answer is that Warren had nothing to do with the creation of the commission or its operations. It was run by Dulles and McCloy who were acting for their crime bosses. Warren was simply an eminence front who was ordered to play along to stay alive.
While a few of the names we mentioned may have been compartmentally manipulated to participate in the call for a presidential committee to investigate the murder, we are certain that Rostow, Acheson, Katzenbach, and Alsop were part of the murder cabal. The others may have been part of the cover-up only, but further research is required to clarify their involvements in murdering the president.
Donald Gibson, The Kennedy Assassination Cover-up, Progressive Press, San Diego, 2014, 324pp
Copyright 2015 Tony Bonn. All rights reserved.