Return to Transcripts main page
The Assassination of John Kennedy
Aired June 14, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the average man's life, there are two or three emotional experiences wired into his heart and his brain, and no matter what happens to me, I'll remember November the 22nd as long as I'll live.
WALTER CRONKITE, CBS NEWS: There has been an attempt on the life of President Kennedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are combing the floors of the Texas book depository building to find (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oswald has been shot. At point blank range fired into his stomach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police are working on the assumption that Oswald's murderer was to shut him up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman of the Central Intelligence Agency killed John Kennedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stories have been suppressed. Witnesses have been killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the right to know who killed our President and why he died.
JOHN KENNEDY, 35TH UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I stand here tonight on what once was the last frontier. The pioneers gave up their safety and sometimes their lives to build our new west.
Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice. But I believe that the times require imagination and courage. I'm asking each of you to be pioneers toward that New Frontier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Dallas, preparations were already underway for extraordinary police protection when the President should arrive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you anticipate any trouble on the President's arrival? CHIEF JESSE CURRY, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Because of what has happened here previously, we would be forced (ph) I think not to anticipate some trouble. I don't -- Really, I don't anticipate any violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes Air Force number One. The President's plane now touching down. As Mrs. Kennedy and the crowd yells and the President of the United States. And I can see his fan all away from here.
DAN RATHER, ANCHOR: Looking at how things actually went, it wasn't just a trip to Dallas. It was a political trip preparing for the 1964 elections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shaking hands now with the Dallas people, Governor and Mrs. Connally. Governor Connally on your left.
ROBERT MACNEIL, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: It was whether Kennedy could use his charisma and his influence to get all these squabbling Democrats in Texas to come together before the election the next year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here comes the President now. In fact, he's not in his limousine. He's departed the limousine and he is reaching across the fans shaking hands.
MACNEIL: In those days, everybody could get a lot closer to the president. I was standing behind Mrs. Kennedy and I saw a hand reach through the chain-link fence and break off one of the red roses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thousands of children now is swarming trying to get over the fence. The Dallas police trying to keep them back. It was great for the people and makes the eggshells even thinner for the Secret Service's job it is to guard the man.
RATHER: And the trip had gone terrific and well in Texas. Pretty hard away to script for it going any better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thousands will be on hand for that motorcade now which will be in downtown Dallas.
LAWRENCE WRIGHT, AUTHOR, IN THE NEW WORLD: A number of my classmates were gone. They were at the parade. My father had been invited to have lunch with Kennedy at the Trade Center. There was a move, a climate of excitement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The speech of President Kennedy at the Dallas Trade Mart will be broadcast by 570 Radio. Stay tuned for the President's Dallas speech at the Trade Mart on 570 Radio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This moment in Houston (ph) to the KILT (inaudible) Dallas, three shots were fired at the motorcade of President Kennedy today in downtown Dallas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police radios are telling that the President has been hit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parkland Hospital has been advised to standby for a severe gunshot wound.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Walter Cronkite in our newsroom in ...
There has been an attempt on the life of President Kennedy.
JAY WATSON, WFAA-TV, DALLAS TEXAS: Just turn the mic on. I can't hear you, Johnny. What do you want? You want me to move back a little bit? Is this all right now? Is this all right? Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce to you the chief camera man and assistant news director of WFAA Television. This is Bert Shipp. Bert, we have brought the people pretty much up to date, would you tell them exactly what you know as of this point?
BERT SHIP, WFAA-TV, DALLAS, TEXAS: Well Jay, I was standing at the Trade Mart waiting for his arrival there. All of a sudden, they -- we saw them approaching, they didn't slow down, and a matter of fact they were going 70 to 80 miles an hour and passed us. And then I jumped in the police car and went to Parkland.
AUBREY RIKE, AMBULANCE DRIVER: There's two lanes I'm running in one of them had a large (inaudible) machine gun and they were calling for stretchers and (inaudible) and the Governor leave out (inaudible) first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened after this?
RIKE: Well then the President Connally behind him and they took him -- both of them back to the operating room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Albert Thomas, Democratic, Texas is standing outside the emergency room said he's been told the President was still alive but in very critical condition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President has not arrived here. A group of Secret Service men and other officials is gathered where the President normally would enter and discussing heatedly with one another, some subject or other, of course we have no idea what.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, here is an announcement from the platform, Mr. Eric Johnson with an announcement.
ERIC JOHNSON: It is true that our President and Governor Connally in the motorcade have been shot. We shall tell you as much as we know as soon as we know anything.
WATSON: A gentleman just walked in our studio that I am meeting for the first time as well as you, this is WFA TV here in Dallas Texas. May I have your name please, sir?
ABRAHAM ZAPRUDER: My name is Abraham Zapruder.
UNIDENITIFIED MALE: Mr. Zapruder?
ZAPRUDER: Zapruder, yes. UNIDENITIFIED MALE: Zapruder, and would you tell us your story please, sir?
ZAPRUDER: I got out and about half an hour earlier and get a good spot to shoot some pictures.
CHARLES BREHM, WITNESS: ... a five-year-old boy and myself were by ourselves on the grass there on Palmer Atreet and I asked Joe to wave to him and Joe waved and I waved and then ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all right, sir.
BREHM: And he was waving back. He was -- the shot rang out and he slumped down in his seat.
GAYLE NEWMAN, WITNESS: ... and then all of a sudden this next one popped and Governor Connally grabbed his stomach and kind of laid over to the side. And then another one, it was just also but -- and President Kennedy reached up and grabbed -- and looked back - he's grabbed his ear and blood just started gushing out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you the person who had fired it?
JEAN HILL, WITNESS: No. Not -- I didn't see any person fired a weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You only heard it?
HILL: I only heard it. And I looked up and I saw a man running up the hill.
ROBERT CARO, AUTHOR, THE PASSAGE OF POWER: If it's a conspiracy, not only the President who was hit, the Governor was hit, who know if the next shot would have been for Lyndon Johnson?
Johnson's car pulls into the emergency bay of Parkland Hospital. Four agents reach in and they grabbed Johnson and pulled him out and start to run him down one car over around looking for a safe place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Johnson, his whereabouts are being kept secret for security reasons. If anyone knows where Mr. Johnson is, it is not us at this moment.
WRIGHT: There was a signal moment in our cultural history, suddenly it occurred to us the right thing to do is to turn on television.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reports continue to come in. And then confused in fragmentary fashion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Kennedy here has been given a blood transfusion at Parkland Hospital here in Dallas in an effort to save life.
WRIGHT: It was odd because there were no commercials. It was just a continuous experience. CRONKITE: Two priests have entered the emergency room at Parkland Hospital where he rest after the assassination attempt which now was about a half hour ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your feelings right now, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am absolutely shocked. We have the same birthday. I'm just crazy about him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, who would want to shoot the President? What did he do? I mean he's been doing so much for the country. Then somebody (inaudible) and shoots him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A flash from Dallas. Two priests who were with President Kennedy say he is dead. This is the latest information we have from Dallas. I will repeat with the greatest regret, two priests who were with President Kennedy say he has died of bullet wound.
BOB HUFFAKER, TV REPORTER: Malcolm Kilduff, the Assistant Press Secretary was filling in for the regular press secretary and then he had to draw himself up to give the most fateful announcement that a press secretary might have ever had to give.
ROBERT MACNEIL, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: All the cameras were rolling and I remembered he put his fingers like this on the desk and press very hard to stop his hands trembling.
MALCOLM KILDUFF, ASSISTANT PRESS SECRETARY: President John F. Kennedy died in approximately 1:00 Central Standard Time today, here in Dallas, he died of gunshot wound in the brain. I have no other detail regarding the assassination of the President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people standing here are stunned just as all of us are beyond belief that the President of the United States is dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All over the world, people are going to remember all their lives what they were doing when they first heard that President Kennedy had been killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crowds are standing around in silence and sorrow in the rain. The strange thing is you don't even notice it's raining. And if you do notice, you don't care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just can't believe it. It's exactly how that (inaudible) someone in my own family is dead. I just can't believe it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't think ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible), you don't know what's going on. Why? Why did it happen? Who would have wronged such a thing is the question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the first minutes and hours, chaos and confusion was radiating out from the scene itself.
RATHER: It's very pervasive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the service agents felt the gun fires from an automatic weapon fired possibly from a grassy knoll..
RATHER: I saw some police run up this grass. I thought they're chasing the gunman. I run with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They report here that the attempted assassin we now hear it was a man and a woman.
RATHER: They got to the top, looked around. A policeman went over the fence so I went over the fence too. There was nothing there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The television newsman said that he looked up just after the shot was fired then saw a rifle being withdrawn from a fifth or sixth floor window.
RATHER: There was original thought that the shots came from in here. And now it's believed that the shots came from this building here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still believe that he's running back to our detective feat (ph) a depository building. They are going to continue searching in that building for the -- with the assassin of the President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In central downtown Dallas in a virtual state of siege they are combing the floor with the detectives at the depository building in an effort to find this suspected assassin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the building on the sixth floor we found an area near a window that is supposedly been blocked by boxes of books and also the three sprint (ph) shield that apparently been fired from a rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crime Lab Lieutenant J.C. Day just came out of that building with a British .303 rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a 7.65 mauser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A high-powered army or Japanese rifle of 25 caliber.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 3030 rifle.
RATHER: Much of the first things you hear are going to be wrong. And to some degree, you will constantly trying to separate out what seem to be a fact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Dallas, a Dallas policemen just a short while ago was shot and killed while chasing a suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: J.D. Tippit, a good experienced police officer was shot three times in the chest in the old cliff section of Dallas. Then the manager of a shoe store saw the suspect walked into the Texas Theater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone has been arrested in one of the downtown theaters. They don't know if it was the man who shot the policeman or the person who actually shot President Kennedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They suddenly jumped this man and started to drag him out of the theater. Tussled him up to the car as the crowd broke and started to maul the police officers and grab this man trying to run with him. They shouted murderer and the officers hustled him into the car and ran away just as fast as they could.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we mentioned just short while ago, a number of arrests have been made in Dallas in the wake of President Kennedy's death. We have scenes of one of those arrests in the downtown area. This was just after a Dallas policeman was shot in the vicinity of a downtown movie house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... as he approached me, the man who hit McDonallin (ph) in the face with his left hand, reached the pistol with his right hand. And as he reach his pistol, I grabbed him alone and (inaudible)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say to you after he was arrest?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just said, this is it, all over with now (ph).
HARRY REASONER: This is a picture of him. He probably does not look exactly like this now after he has been questioned. Has Lee Oswald ...
ROBERT CARO: The President was shot, a police officer shot then someone named Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested. Oswald maybe a suspect in the assassination. Who is he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lee Oswald of Dallas, a former marine who spent some time in Russia who had one time and applied for Soviet citizenship.
SGT. GERALD HILL: Description that we had of the suspect (inaudible) was on similar to the description we have and the man we were looking for as the assassin. But at that time we have not been able to make (inaudible) in any way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down there in this third floor, a crowd of camera man reporters wait for a possible appearance of the man accused of killing President Kennedy and a Dallas police officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, there will be a great deal of confusion. This draw us a lot of -- but through the door. I don't know if you saw him, Oswald is in 1026 North Beckley. He's an employee of a book binding firm in this building which the police sends Secret Service men believed the President was shot today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Kennedy accompanied the body in an ambulance from the hospital to the airport where it will be flown back to Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had everyone out in the emergency room and the hospital completely on the first floor there and they come out and told us we would have to have to remove the remains into a casket.
BOB HUFFAKER: Lyndon Johnson had ordered that the body be brought immediately to Air Force One. So there was a little tug of war. It almost shook the crucifix off of the top of the coffin as they were trying to get that coffin out of the hospital.
DENNIS MCGUIRE: They took him out and put him into the first and one of the Secret Service men, well about two or three of them got into the Hurst (ph) and just drove off and (inaudible) is standing there.
CRONKITE: Vice President Johnson is expected to be sworn in as president aboard an airliner before flying back to the nation's capital.
MAX HOLLAND: Not everyone realized that Johnson was already the President because he in fact had taken the oath in January '61 the same oath the President takes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnson wanted to show the American people that the government is functioning without interruption. And also perhaps he wanted to show that his predecessor's family bore him know ill will for the assassination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lyndon Baines Johnson is flying back to Washington to take the reins of government in which time President Johnson will have to take into his hands the reins of the most powerful nation in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think November 22nd 1963 as the date when the President was killed. But it was also but then when a president was created
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any doubt in your mind chief that Oswald is the man who killed the President?
CHIEF JESSE CURRY, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: I think this is the man who killed the President, yes sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any evidence that anyone else may have been linked with Oswald to this shooting?
CURRY: At this time we don't believe so.
LEE HARVEY OSWALD, SUSPECT IN THE ASSASSINATION OF JOHN F. KENNEDY: I don't know what this is all about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill the President?
OSWALD: Sir? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill the President?
OSWALD: I work in that building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you in the building at the time?
OSWALD: Naturally if I work in that building, yes sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up man, come on man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill the President?
OSWALD: No they're taking me in because of the fact that I mentioned the Soviet Union. I'm just a patsy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill the President?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is room 317 homicide bureau here at the Dallas Police Station. As you see they are bringing the weapon that was allegedly used in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy this afternoon at 12:30 here in Dallas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 6.5 apparently made in Italy in 1940.
PAUL GOOD, ABC NEWS: Police have traced the rifle, purchased in Chicago by mail order. He bought under the alias of A. Heidel (ph). Handwriting experts have established that the handwriting on the purchase order was in fact made by Oswald at the price of $12.78 cents, the life of the President of the United States apparently was bought.
RATHER: In the wake of the Kennedy assassination, the Dallas Police on the one hand they were committing all of their resources to trying to solve the crime. There they had -- they were ill-equipped to handle this tsunami of reporters.
HARVEY OSWALD: Well I was questioned by judge by -- about the death (ph) at that time that I was not allowed (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In bringing Oswald out, they were of course doing something that you would never see happen today, but they were trying to cooperate with the press with the understanding that there would not be questions shouted at him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill the President?
OSWALD: No, I have not been charged with that, in fact nobody has said that to me yet. The first thing I heard about it was when the newspaper reporters in the hall asked me that question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been (inaudible)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
OSWALD: The police will get me.
BILL LORD, ABC NEWS: 1:35 this morning a complaint was read, it charged, "Lee Harvey Oswald did voluntarily and with malice of forethought killed John F. Kennedy by shooting him with a gun," following the reading of the complaint, Oswald said, "That's ridiculous."
VINCENT BUGLIOSI, AUTHOR, RECLAIMING HISTORY: Within hours of the assassination it was very obvious to virtually everyone on Dallas Law Enforcement that Oswald had killed Kennedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief can you tell us in summary what directly links Oswald to the killing of the President?
CURRY: Well the fact that he was on the floor where the shots were fired from, immediately before the shots were fired, the fact that he was seen carrying a package to the building. The fact that ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're saying (inaudible)
CURRY: Yesterday morning.
BUGLIOSI: After the shooting in Dealey Plaza, Oswald was the only employee at the book depository that fled the building. Forty-five minutes later he shoots and kills Officer J.D. Tippit. Half hour later at the Texas Theater he resisted arrest by pulling his gun on the arresting officer.
During 12 hours of interrogation by the Dallas Police Department over the weekend he told one provable line after another.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you fire that rifle?
OSWALD: Well, these passages (ph) you people have been given by, I emphatically deny these charges.
BURGLIOSI: Within a day or so thereafter when they discovered what a complete nut this guy was, they were satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Oswald had acted alone.
WILL FRITZ, CAPTAIN, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: There's only one thing that I can tell you without going into the evidence that this case is synched, that this man killed the President and there's no question in my mind about it.
We plan to transfer this man not tonight. The man will be here but no later than 10:00 in the morning while it will -- that will be early enough.
UNIDETIFIED MALE: Chief do you have any concern for the safety of your prisoner in view of the high feeling among the people of Dallas over the assassination of the President?
CURRY: No but precautions will be taken of course that I'm not -- I don't think that the people will try to take the prisoner away from us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lee Oswald is to be taken soon to the county jail.
FRITZ: That's true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you are going to be taking there how sir?
FRITZ: We are going to use an armored motor vehicle to take him.
PRISCILLA MCMILLAN, AUTHOR: The Dallas Police meant to transfer Lee into the regular prison during the night to avoid the press. And then someone must have overruled them so that Lee could be photographed by the press during the transfer.
BOB WALKER, WFAA, DALLAS TEXAS: We're standing by awaiting the transfer of Oswald from City Jail to County Jail. And for that report, here is ABC's Bill Lord at the City Jail. Bill what's the situation?
LORD: Well, I am presently in the basement of the Dallas Municipal Building, and it is like an armed camp. Police officials are frankly worried. They don't want anything to happen to Oswald.
It is through this cadre of newsmen, photographers and policeman that Lee Oswald with be brought to a vehicle for transfer to the Dallas County Jail at a distance of about 15 blocks which ironically is just across from the scene where President Kennedy was assassinated on Friday.
RATHER: Anticipation has built up here in downtown Dallas in front of the county jail. They are waiting for a glimpse of Lee Oswald
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is. There's him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me have it alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been shot. He's been shot. Lee Oswald has been shot. There is the man with the gun, absolute panic, absolute panic here in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters. The detectives have their guns drawn, there is no question about it. Oswald has been shot at point blank range fired into his stomach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oswald is shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is Oswald.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the man who shot the man.
BOB HUFFAKER, WRLD-TV REPORTER: Immediately after the shooting our only witness that we could talk to were other reporters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did he go?
FRANCOIS PELOU, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE: But he was here he just, they just put the gun down I saw flash on the black (inaudible).
PELOU: I say they saw it was a group of men right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he one of us or what?
PELOU: I thought was he one of the detective, you know, he had hat...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
HUFFAKER: The situation is now that Lee Harvey Oswald has been shot. The man who say the shot fired said it was fired by a man wearing a black hat, a brown coat, a man that everyone down here thought was a secret service agent. We can hear sirens outside and ambulance apparently is moving down now into the basement. Here comes the ambulance. And Oswald will be removed now. The ambulance is being pulled up in front of us here. Here comes Oswald. He is ashen and unconscious at this time now being moved in. He's not moving. He's in the ambulance now. In attendance police are quickly climbing in. The ambulance is leaving Dallas Police Headquarters. Where will he be taken?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm assuming Parkland Hospital.
HUFFAKER: Parkland Hospital. The irony of ironies the place where President John F. Kennedy died.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe the man...
LISA HOWARD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: No, don't take the microphone. Keep your head up. Let's try it again. What is your reaction to the shooting of Oswald?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I think it's a deplorable situation. The man has entitled to a fair trial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you give him a fair trial, of course, killing him just like that - that ain't going to be President Kennedy back to life. And after he get a (inaudible) out in the street and let the people kill him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should not only shoot him but cut him up in pieces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put him every one hour in a fire and stood them up for one day. And then next day starts again.
HOWARD: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Running man that I believe it I didn't see it. I think it's the man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's he look like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't give you descriptive now. He's known locally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Immediately after the ambulance left, somehow I began to suspect that maybe the shooter was someone who was known to the police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know this subject? Do you know him? Have you seen him before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he from Dallas here?
UNIDEITNFIED MALE: I couldn't tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know what kind of business he happens to be in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I wouldn't want to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dallas City Hall is normally a public building, but today, it was really under armed guard.
We -- is this a confirmed report as to who did the shooting? Vic Robertson from City Hall reports that Jack Ruby the owner of the Carousel which is a bar in Dallas did the shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My statement will be very brief. Oswald expired at 1:07 p.m.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Died?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He died at 1:07 p.m. We have arrested the man. The man will be charged with murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man -- the suspect's name is Jack Rubenstein I believe. He goes with the name of Jack Ruby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here at Associated Press a still picture of the moment, the split second, as the shot was fired. This is the man Dallas police have identified as Jack Rubenstein and this of course is Lee Harvey Oswald. You see the gun in the hand of Ruby and just about to be fired.
RATHER: I know my own feelings were and I think they were widely shared by many if not most Americans. This can't be coincidental. The assassin is assassinated in the police station. What in the hell is going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just learned from City Hall from a very authoritative source that police are working on the assumption that there indeed is a connection between Jack Ruby and Lee Oswald and that in some manner of speaking, Oswald's murder was to shut him up.
JIM UNDERWOOD, ASST. NEWS DIRECTOR, KRLD-TV DALLAS TEXAS: Captain Will Fritz just told me that Ruby has said that he did it, that it was his gun, and that he had lived up a tremendous grievance over the death of the President.
VINCENT BUGLIOSI, AUTHOR, "RECLAIMING HISTORY": In Jack Ruby's small mind, he thought he was going to become a big, big hero. I mean, he killed the guy who killed the President.
TOM HOWARD, ATTORNEY FOR JACK RUBY: Commend what he did, I think he ought to have the Congressional Medal of Honor for it. And a lot of other good American citizens think he did exactly the right thing in shooting down this communist.
CRONKITE: Word also in just now from Dallas that homicide, the Chief Captain Will Fritz has now said that the case of President Kennedy's assassination is now closed with the death of Oswald. It may not however be the opinion of the U.S. Secret Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
EARL WARREN, (FRM) U.S. CHIEF JUSTICE: Our nation is bereaved. The whole world is poorer because of his loss. But we can all be better Americans because John Fitzgerald Kennedy has passed our way. Because he has been our chosen leader at a time in history and his character, his vision, and his quiet courage have enabled him to chart a course for us, a safe course for us through the shoals of treacherous seas that encompass the world.
And now that he is relieved of the almost superhuman burden we imposed on him, may he rest in peace.
CRONKITE: Dallas today had even more to mourn at it held funeral services for one of its own. Who was a victim of Friday's tragedy, Officer J.D. Tippit.
MURPHY MARTIN, WFAA TV, DALLAS TEXAS: It was a funeral of a different sort today in nearby Fort Worth.
This was the dreary funeral of Lee Harvey Oswald, alleged murderer of President Kennedy.
The pathetic group of mourners included Oswald's mother, Marguerite, his wife Marina, his brother Robert, and Oswald's two children, one of them a babe in arms.
The six pall-bearers you see here are newsmen. There were not enough relatives or friends on hand to serve as pall-bearers. GEORGE HERMAN, CBS NEWS: Now, there is a new flag of the President of the United States flying in the White House. In President Kennedy's old oval office, Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, his secretary and her aids have removed every scrap, every vestige of the signs of the personal touches of President Kennedy.
RATHER: We know from history that one test of society is how do we handle the transfer of power at the top. Lyndon Johnson, whatever you thought him, and a lot of people just liked and gravely, some even hated him would be the President of United States. I think it shouted about the strength of the country and that we swear by the rule of law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President of United States.
LYNDON JOHNSON, (FRM) U.S. PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, all I have, I would have given gladly, not to be standing here today.
CARO: Johnson knows he has to show the country that the ship of state is sailing on under a new captain but at the same time, he can't appear to be too anxious to assume power and he has to keep the Kennedy people on board with him. So, that speech means everything.
JOHNSON: No words are strong enough to express our determination to continue the power of trust of America that he began.
JOHN CHANCELLOR, REPORTER, NBC NEWS, VIENNA: The people of Europe just cannot believe that a lone avenger made his way into a major police station and killed without difficulty the most celebrated and infamous criminal in the United States.
MAX HOLLAND: One of the most important things that happened after Oswald's murder was that we, you know, will forever deny the why. I mean people at the time believed he did it. Question was why.
TURNER CATLEDGE, NEW YORK TIMES MANAGING DIRECTOR: The odd questions continually coming up about a possibility of an international plot.
CARO: There's still all this story that the Russians might be behind it or Cuba might be behind it. Johnson sees there's a real danger in that. You want to put this rumors to rest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigation into all the facts of these last four days may not be limited to the State of Texas or the FBI. Some Congressman already have suggested a Congressional Investigation.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: Killing a President wasn't a Federal Crime at the time, so you had the Federal Government intervening and still what was a local murder.
HOWARD WILLENS, ASSISSTANT COUNSEL, WARREN COMMISSION : There certainly was a concern of competing investigations, there was the Dallas Criminal Investigation, there was the State of Texas Court of Inquiry and there were committees on both sides of Congress while of course the FBI had been given the job to conduct a full scale investigation. CARO: Johnson realized that something has to be done. He realizes that he has to appoint a body that the public will respect to look into this.
JOHNSON: I've got to have a top blue ribbon presidential commission to investigate the assassination. I'm going to ask Chloe (ph) and Dallas and Ford and Bob (ph) and Kurt (ph) and Russell and (inaudible) this morning chairman.
CARO: He is one public governmental official in the United States, universally respected for his integrity and he is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren. If there's one person in Congress that everyone respects, it's Richard Russell of Georgia. He has to get them both on the Commission. There is however a problem. Russell is a segregationist through and through and despises Warren for the decisions that he's made on the court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnson thought if they can agree on a verdict, then ought to be satisfying 90 percent of American public opinion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Russell 2191.
SENATOR RICHARD RUSSELL, (R) GEORGIA: How honest do you think about in connection -- but I could say that Chief Justice Warren, I don't like that man.
JOHNSON: You will serve with anybody for the good of America and you're going to do it. I can't arrest you and I'm not going to put the FBI on you but you god damn sure going to serve, I'll give you that.
CARO: Lyndon Johnson was known as the greatest salesman one on one who ever lived. So he meets first with Warren and he says, "If I asked you to put on your uniform and fight for America you do it. I'm asking you to fight for America in a different way."
Then Johnson has to get Richard Russell.
RUSSELL: Mr. President please.
JOHNSON: No, it's already done it's been announced.
RUSSELL: You mean you give...
JOHNSON: Yes sir, I gave the announcement it's already in the papers and you're on it.
RUSSELL: Well I think you did wrong getting Warren and I know damn right you got wrong in getting me.
JOHNSON: No. I think it's what I think you do (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Produced by NBC News which is solely responsible for its content. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Warren Commission appointed Friday night will investigate and make a report on the murder. As yet it has said nothing about how it will proceed or when. In the meantime again, the FBI is investigation every lead it can find and will turn its report over to President Johnson probably this week.
WILLENS: It was the FBI's hope that it's report would be, if not the final word, the semi final word and that the Commission's job would be to read it and then essentially endorse the findings of the report.
EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN, AUTHOR, THE JFK ASSASSINATION: The members of the Warren Commission, Earl Warren, John Sherman Cooper, Gerry Ford, Allen Dulles, Hale Boggs, Richard Russell and John J. McCloy realized at their initial meeting that they had to do an independent investigation.
They didn't want to be a stamp for the FBI or the Secret Service.
HOLLAND: There are three issues that the Commission had to grapple with. You know, did Oswald commit the physical act of the murder? And even if he did the physical act, did he have forces behind him and then what's Ruby's involvement in this?
JIM NEWTON, AUTHOR, JUSTICE FOR ALL: You had various branches in the investigation traveling, interviewing witnesses, collecting evidence, bringing it back to the Commission.
ALLEN DULLES, WARREN COMMISSION MEMBER: Let's see, the time of day was about, well we're not very far...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were questions, how would they deal with the different stories about shooters from the grassy knoll and shooters from different directions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lawyers from the Commission took 395 depositions and there were 94 witnesses that appeared before the Commission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lyndon Johnson wants to report out so it doesn't interfere with the election in November.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warren left for Dallas because he was a man who'd spent his early career as a courtroom prosecutor. He understood a crime scene. He want to stand in that window and see whether this was a shot that a marksman could make. While he was there, Warren felt he should talk to Ruby. There was all this suggestions that Ruby had killed Oswald to silence him so Warren I think wanted to hear from Ruby himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Warren Commission realized they were going to have to invest a lot more time than was anticipated. So, maybe two to three month operation to the conception that the (AUDIO GAP).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The report will cover all of that in great detail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This committee labored 10 months, then brought forth a document close to 1,000 pages. President Johnson received that report today.
EPSTEIN: What the public understood and what I understood is these were very honorable men. They thought that the commission had done a good job, and they would come up with an answer.
ROBERT MACNEIL, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: When the Warren Commission report came out, I believed it. We were still in a time when you tended to believe what officials told you.
WALTER CRONKITE, NEWS ANCHOR: It is now 15 seconds after 6:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Sunday, September the 27th. As of this moment, the report of the president's commission is public record.
For the next half-hour, we will search it for answers. First must come the answers to the two great overriding questions. Who killed John F. Kennedy? The commission answers unequivocally, Lee Harvey Oswald. Was Oswald acting alone or was he a member of the conspiracy? The commission answers, he acted alone.
DAN RATHER, NEWS ANCHOR: We knew most people were not going to read all of the Warren Commission report. So CBS News wanted to bring to be able to bring to air in understandable form for the public at large what the Warren Commission itself has found.
RATHER: There was nothing to support the speculation that Oswald was an agent, employee or informant of the FBI or the CIA or any other governmental agency.
CRONKITE: Oswald owned the murder rifle. The mail-order purchase slip for that rifle was in his handwriting. Oswald's palm print was found on a surface of the gun.
EPSTEIN: The media had all concluded that this was a most exhaustive investigation, case closed. Oswald did it alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The commission concludes that three shots were fired, all of them from this sixth-floor window in the Texas School Book Depository.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cumulative evidence of eyewitness, firearms and ballistic experts and medical authorities demonstrated that the shots were fired from above and behind President Kennedy and Governor Connally.
VINCENT BUGLIOSI, AUTHOR, "RECLAIMING HISTORY": When the Warren Commission came out with the report, the majority of Americans accepted the findings of the Warren Commission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bullet entered here, came out just below the president's Adam's apple. The commission believes that the same bullet then entered the right shoulder of Governor Connally, passed out through his chest, continued through his right wrist and on into his left thigh.
GOV. JOHN CONNALLY, TEXAS: The report has been generally accepted throughout the country. I think it reflects the thoroughness with which they went into it. And I think at least it has dispelled many of the rumors and speculation that has surrounded this very tragic event.
ROBERT OSWALD, BROTHER OF LEE HARVEY OSWALD: I'm quite satisfied that it's been very well-covered entirely. It leaves no doubt in my mind that Lee actually did assassinate the president of the United States and kill Officer Tippit.
CRONKITE: In the end, we find confronting each other the liar, the misfit, the defector on the one hand, and seven distinguished Americans on the other. And yet exactly here we must be careful that we do not say too much.
Oswald was never tried for any crime, and perhaps therefore there will forever be questions of substance and detail raised by amateur detectives, professional skeptics and serious students as well. We are the jury, all of us in America and throughout the world.
WILLENS: The reaction to the report initially was very positive, but that didn't last very long.
MERV GRIFFIN, TALK SHOW HOST: This book is the number one bestseller on the nonfiction list in the country, "Rush to Judgment" by Mark Lane. It's gained a vast number of readers in the recent groundswell of skepticism about the findings of the Warren report.
WILLENS: We did not envision the breadth and the scope of the criticism.
GRIFFIN: The author has some highly provocative and controversial things to say. So, please greet Mr. Mark Lane.
MARK LANE, AUTHOR, "RUSH TO JUDGMENT": No matter how illustrious the members were, we were not going to be reassured by a commission.
GRIFFIN: We're already having a little disagreement here while the commercials were on.
What were you saying, David?
DAVID SUSSKIND, TV HOST: Well, I think I disagree almost totally with Mark Lane on several counts. I don't know where to begin.
LANE: Let me show you something just in case we have a chance. That is a picture of Jack Ruby. This was taken five minutes after the assassination in front of the Texas School Book Depository building.
The commission said Ruby was not there. This is a picture showing how the commission published it. He wasn't there when they published the picture because they cropped him out.
SUSSKIND: You're accusing Chief Justice Warren and that group of notable Americans...
LANE: Tell me something about some facts.
SUSSKIND: You're accusing them of deliberate malfeasance.
LANE: You are part of the media which prevented the American people from finding out what happened.
SUSSKIND: You are alarming the American people.
LANE: I say the American public should be alarmed.
M. HOLLAND: The public had been kept in the dark for so long about this, but had an undying thirst, which could only be quenched by getting facts.
LANE: We have a right to know who killed our president and why he died. And we can't get that from reading the Warren report.
WILLENS: The critics of the Warren Commission have three different points of view. One, we were thoroughly incompetent. Two, we were thoroughly corrupt. And then there's those that say both of the above.
I want someone to tell me that to my face.
CLIFF MICHELMORE, BBC: At the start, Lane was almost alone. Now he's just one among a growing band of doubters. Their books and articles are on the newsstands. They're in the supermarkets. Now, according to a recent poll, only one in three Americans remains convinced that the Warren report has the whole story.
BUGLIOSI: When you have a great number of people devoting their lives to looking at every word, every comma, they can create a lot of mischief.
PENN JONES, WARREN REPORT CRITIC: I believe very firmly that Ruby and Oswald knew each other, and certainly that Tippit and Ruby knew each other.
GRIFFIN: Before we proceed with that kind of questioning, let me ask you, what kind of conspiracy, do you think? Was it a communist, a left-wing or right-wing conspiracy?
JONES: I am convinced that there were two riflemen.
ROBERT WELCH, FOUNDER, JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY: The Warren Commission was set up, as you know, at the request and urging of the Communist Party.
CARLOS BRINGUIER, ANTI-CASTRO ACTIVIST: It's obvious that he was working for somebody else at that moment, and that somebody could not be anyone else than Fidel Castro.
HAROLD WEISBERG, WARREN REPORT CRITIC: There's no possibly of Oswald having been in the sixth-floor window of that Texas School Book Depository.
DR. FRED SCHWARZ, WARREN REPORT CRITIC: In my opinion, the servant of the Castro/Mao Tse-Tung communist school of violence.
EPSTEIN: There were an entire world of assassination thoughts. Some raised valid questions.
MICHELMORE: Could a bullet which had done as much have come out looking like bullet 399?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: It is another one of the very many highly improbables that we are asked to accept by the Warren Commission if we are to accept the validity of their full report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some had completely mad theories.
JONES: Cody (ph) was killed by a karate chop to the throat in September of, I believe, 1964.
EPSTEIN: But everyone, I believed, had a right to give their views.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR., FOUNDER, "NATIONAL REVIEW": You have apparently succeeded in persuading the majority of the American people that we cannot trust the most august conceivable panel to do a responsible job.
LANE: You talk about faith in these institutions or faith in the FBI as if it's a religious experience to read the Warren report. I think, to the contrary that all we're supposed to have faith in a democracy is our in own ability to look at the facts and reach our own conclusions.
BUGLIOSI: The decreasing trust by Americans in their government all started with the Kennedy assassination.
M. HOLLAND: By 1966, there's this cultural revolution in the United States. We're deeply enmeshed in Vietnam. There's a lot of protests. There had been riots. And there's a sense that things have seriously gone wrong. We have gone off the rails since November '63, and the Warren report is a very important part of that loss of confidence in the government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that all the facts were brought out. I think something was held back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there were more involved than just Oswald.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how in the world they could ever reach a conclusion that one person assassinated him. It's ridiculous. I saw the whole thing on television. I just happened to be home at that time. And I don't think that Oswald -- I think that he was working for the CIA, myself.
CRONKITE: Why doesn't America believe the Warren report?
BUGLIOSI: Because of the conspiracy theorists who have put this case under a high-powered microscope, splitting hairs and then proceeding to split the split hairs, the Kennedy case is now the most complex murder case by far in world history. Nothing even remotely comes close.
CRONKITE: We are left with the series of real and critical questions about the assassination, questions which have not been answered to the satisfaction of the people of the United States.
DAVID CROSBY, MUSICIAN: When President Kennedy was killed, he was not killed by one man. He was shot from a number of different directions by different guns. The story has been suppressed. Witnesses have been killed. And this is your country.
ARLEN SPECTER, WARREN COMMISSION COUNSEL: We aren't trying to hide a thing from you or from Mr. Epstein or Mr. Lane or the world. We are laying it all out. That's right here in the notes of testimony.
And if we have transposed in error a possibly into a probably, then we are delighted to have you point it out to us. But you can do so only because we have laid it on the line.
MICHELMORE: The Warren report said that Lee Harvey Oswald shot the president from his window in the Texas School Book Depository. Three years after Kennedy's assassination, the major question is still a simple one. Did the Warren Commission, with all that time and all these resources, get its answers right?
Tonight, we will go over those arguments one by one, area by area. As the assassination was taking place, a Dallas businessman called Abraham Zapruder stood behind that low concrete wall looking down at Elm Street.
ABRAHAM ZAPRUDER, SHOT FILM OF ASSASSINATION: As the president was coming down from Houston Street and making his turn, it was about halfway down there, I heard a shot. And I heard another shot or two. I couldn't tell you whether it was one or two. And I saw his head practically open up, all blood and everything. And I kept on shooting.
MICHELMORE: The Warren Commission could use the film and each frame to reconstruct each moment of the assassination. ALEXANDRA ZAPRUDER, GRANDDAUGHTER OF ABRAHAM ZAPRUDER: Part of the
reason why I think the film captured the American imagination is because it pushes us to think about something more complex. And each person who looks at it, people see different things.
CRONKITE: Where did the shots come from? If the shots did not all come from the Book Depository window, then there was most likely some form of conspiracy.
WILLIAM TURNER, FORMER FBI AGENT: I think that the massive head wound where the president's head was literally blown apart came from a quartering angle on the grassy knoll. He's struck and his head doesn't go directly back this way, but it goes back and over this way, which would be consistent with a shot from that direction and Newton's law of motion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven men on a railroad bridge right here said that when the shots were fired, they looked toward the wooden fence and each of the seven said he saw puffs of white smoke come from here.
S.M. HOLLAND, WITNESS: The grass knoll underneath that green tree, and you can see a little puff of smoke. It looked like a puff of steam or cigarette smoke.
BUGLIOSI: When you stopped to think about it, no one saw anyone with a gun, rifle on the grassy knoll. No expended cartridges from a weapon were found there. Not one bullet other than those fired from Oswald's rifle has ever been found and linked to the assassination.
JONES: Now, there were two doctors and one priest who claimed -- who said flatly that there were entrance wounds in the president's neck.
LANE: If the wound in the president's throat was an entrance wound, then clearly this would be proof that the bullet came from the front.
MICHELMORE: Mark Lane has suggested that this wasn't an exit wound by the president's tie, but an entry wound, that Kennedy was hit in the throat from the front.
M. HOLLAND: The doctor at Parkland didn't want to talk about the president's injuries, but the press more or less forced him to.
And the wound in the president's throat was pretty clean. He thought it was an entrance wound.
EDDIE BARKER, NEWS DIRECTOR: What about this wound that you observed in the front of the president's neck?
DR. MALCOLM PERRY, ATTENDING SURGEON, PARKLAND HOSPITAL: Actually, I didn't really give it much thought. And I realize that perhaps it would have been better had I done so.
WILLENS: There was a wound in the back of the neck that had not been seen by the Parkland doctors because they never turned the body over.
BARKER: You did not current president over? PERRY: No, there was really no reason to. It made very little
difference to me, since my immediate concern was with an attempted resuscitation.
M. HOLLAND: You can explain this ad infinitum and people will only remember that a doctor at Parkland said he'd been shot from possibly the front. So it's kind of trying to put the genie back in the bottle.
LANE: A bullet hit the president from the back, bullet hit him from the front. The bullet which killed him came from the right front. Unless the laws of physics were not working that day, the reaction of the president tells us where that shot came from.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some critics say by the very fact that in the picture you can clearly see the explosion of the bullet on the front side of the president, that that certainly indicates the bullet came from the front.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't believe any physicist has ever said that. Quite contrary, it does indicate that the bullet was coming from behind. It's a minor explosion, where pieces of material go generally in the direction of the bullet.
BUGLIOSI: If you look at the individual frames of the Zapruder film, at 312, frame 312, the president's head's OK. At frame 313, 1/18th of a second later, the president is struck in the head. And what direction is the president's head pushed? Not backwards, but slightly forward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any doubt that the wound at the back of the president's head was the entry wound?
CAPT. JAMES J. HUMES, CHIEF AUTOPSY SURGEON: There is absolutely no doubt, sir.
BUGLIOSI: So at the all-important moment of impact, the president's head is pushed forward, indicating a shot from the rear, where Lee Harvey Oswald was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report" continues.
CRONKITE: The time span between shots is a point upon which the critics have seized. Could Oswald have fired three shots in 5.6 seconds?
WILLENS: There was a lot of attention being given to the Zapruder film and when exactly the president was hit first and then hit second.
CRONKITE: CBS News had a tower and target track constructed to match exactly the heights and distances in Dealey Plaza.
WILLENS: If there wasn't enough time, then you would have a second shooter.
BUGLIOSI: Oswald was not an expert shot. He was a good shot. But making the shots was not that tough at all. CBS did it. A guy from the military did it.
MICHELMORE: Those three shots, he got off in 2.6 seconds.
M. HOLLAND: The Zapruder film became the lens through which the assassination was seen. If it didn't happen on the Zapruder film it didn't happen. Zapruder started his camera after the limousine was about 70 feet into Dealey Plaza.
Well, Oswald had the president in his sights for many seconds before that. And this gets into the whole questions, how much time did Oswald have to shoot the president?
ZAPRUDER: There are so many interesting questions and problems that come from the film. We believe so much in the image. We believe so much in the sort of ultimate truth of film and of images. Then they become our memory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it impossible that the bullet would have gone through President Kennedy, gone through Governor Connally, and not suffered any more damage than is shown in this photograph?
WECHT: I would hesitate really to say that it is absolutely, 100 percent impossible, but it is highly improbable.
CRONKITE: Could a single bullet have wounded both President Kennedy and Governor Connally? The single-bullet theory has perhaps become the most controversial aspect of the Warren report.
M. HOLLAND: If the Warren Commission couldn't prove that one shot had hit both men, it meant there were two shooters, ipso facto, there is a conspiracy.
BUGLIOSI: The conspiracy theorists claim the second shot was a magic bullet. They argue that a bullet would have had to make a right turn and then a left turn in midair. The reality is that Connally was not seated directly in front of Kennedy.
SPECTER: If you figure out the alignment of where the men sat, and if you look down the Mannlicher-Carcano, as I did and as the others did who conducted the on-site tests, and had the automobile placed in the position, it is perfectly plain, I submit to you, that the bullet that exited from President Kennedy's throat would have to strike either the automobile, which it did not, or someone else in the automobile.
M. HOLLAND: To believe that it didn't hit Governor Connally, that would be a real magic bullet, one that disappeared in thin air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the Dallas County Courthouse for more developments on the Jack Ruby verdict. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack Ruby has just been found guilty of murder
with malice and has been given the maximum sentence, death in the electric chair, after the jury deliberated two hours and 25 minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just what do you think of this verdict?
MARGUERITE OSWALD, MOTHER OF LEE HARVEY OSWALD: I believe that Jack Ruby was a paid killer to close the mouth of my son, Lee Harvey Oswald.
M. HOLLAND: The question of whether Ruby knew Oswald before or was in cahoots to kill him is one of the most important questions.
WILLENS: Because Ruby knew people in criminal activities, there was a lot of investigation about a potential conspiracy.
BUGLIOSI: Ruby would have been one of the most unlikely and worst hit men that the mob could ever get.
PHIL BURLESON, ATTORNEY FOR JACK RUBY: On November the 24th, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald is supposed to have been transferred at 10:00. At 10:00, the evidence is undisputed that Jack Ruby was at home asleep. Then, he got dressed and drove downtown.
CRONKITE: The receipt shows that Ruby was sending a money order to one of his strippers from a Western Union office across from the courthouse at 11:17 a.m.
BURLESON: We know that at 11:20, three minutes later, a block away, Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald.
The evidence showed that he was down there anywhere from five to 15 seconds, five to 15 seconds. If this is a hired assassin who is supposed to have some advanced information, he is the world's best timer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What type of man is he?
TONY ZOPPI, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Jack is a very emotional-type person. And, as I was saying awhile ago, he's the type man that probably would give you the shirt off his back at one moment and then turn around and do something as nutty as this in the next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never used the term angry. That's not in my vocabulary.
BOB HUFFAKER, AUTHOR, "WHEN THE NEWS WENT LIVE": He was known for a quick temper. And later, as it turned out, he was hooked on two kinds of speed, Preludin and Benzedrine, at the time of the shooting.
ZOPPI: He had been here at the police station during the past two days talking with newsmen and distributing his card, and also making friends.
HUFFAKER: Jack Ruby was a police and media groupie. Ruby thought he was our friend. HENRY WADE, DALLAS DISTRICT ATTORNEY: So I'm in this very same room
Friday night when we had the defendant up here. And some of you will recall he asked a question from out here. He' standing right back here. And I didn't know who he was. I thought he was a member of the press. And he told me as we walked out of here that he was a nightclub operator.
M. HOLLAND: Ruby's act was that of a vigilante. He wanted nothing more to be known, people to flock to his nightclub to shake the hand of the man who killed the man who killed the president.
BUGLIOSI: I might add, if Ruby silenced Oswald for the mob, who was supposed to silence Jack Ruby? He died of normal causes over three years later. Now, one would think that the conspiracy community would fold its tent and go home. But they continued undaunted and unfazed with this obsession.
JIM GARRISON, NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Their game is to fool you. These people want the investigation stopped. They don't want a trial at all. Please believe me.
WALTER CRONKITE, FORMER CBS ANCHOR: The most recent, most spectacular development in the Oswald case involves the CIA. It involves, too, the spectacular district attorney of New Orleans, a man they call the Jolly Green Giant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot President Kennedy?
JIM GARRISON, FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEY, NEW ORLEANS: I don't want to get involved in the speculations as to individuals, but I will say that there's no question about the fact that there was a plot, and there were a number of individuals involved.
EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN, AUTHOR: In 1967, he announced, "I've involved the case. I've found the real assassin."
GARRISON: We will make arrests based on that, and we will make charges based on that. And we will obtain convictions based on that.
EPSTEIN: Now, you wouldn't have paid much attention to this except he was district attorney of New Orleans.
MARK LANE, AUTHOR: I've spent hour after hour with Jim Garrison. He has presented his case to me detail by detail.
MAX HOLLAND, AUTHOR: The Mark Lanes and the conspiracy theorists all flocked initially to Garrison.
LANE: And I can report that a powerful domestic force, a force that is still part of the American structure, planned and initiated those acts that resulted in the assassination of President Kennedy. HOLLAND: They all thought here's a guy who's finally going to bring
the case that we've been, you know, arguing about for years.
GARRISON: If I seem somewhat confident, it is because our office is in its fifth year and has never lost a murder case.
HOLLAND: The press initiatively built Garrison up, because everybody believes, no district attorney in his right mind would do this unless he had something.
BILL GURVICH, AIDE TO JIM GARRISON: Arrest this evening in the district attorney's office was Clay Shaw, age 54, of 1313 Darbine (ph) Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. Shaw will be charged with participation in a conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy.
CLAY SHAW, DEFENDANT: The charges filed against me have no foundation in fact or in law. I have not been apprised of the basis of these fantastic charges, and assume that in due course, I'll be afforded an opportunity to prove my innocence.
HOLLAND: Clay Shaw was a very well distinguished businessman in New Orleans. He had been a distinguished soldier, trained World War II.
ROSEMARY JAMES: I knew Clay Shaw. And that concept of Clay Shaw as being part of an assassination conspiracy was just too weird to be believed.
HOLLAND: Clay Shaw was also a homosexual and closeted, and I think that played a part.
JAMES: This decision to arrest Clay Shaw I believe was intended to get the national media back to town. As soon as he arrested Clay Shaw they all came back.
HOLLAND: And then they realized the truth that there isn't anything there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Garrison has based his case on the certainty that he can prove Clay Shaw is clay or Clem Bertrand. First introduced by lawyer Dean Andrews who told the Warren Commission a person by that name telephoned him, suggesting he provide legal defense for Lee Oswald.
JAMES: Jane (ph) had described Clem Bertrand as having gay tendencies and representing gays as a lawyer. Therefore, Garrison believed Clem Bertrand must be Clay Shaw. That was the extent of Garrison's investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have enough evidence now to go to trial?
GARRISON: If I answered that, I shouldn't be district attorney.
FRANK MCGEE, ABC NEWS: The case he has built against Clay Shaw is based on testimony that did not pass a lie detector test that Garrison ordered, and Garrison knew it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say positively that the person you knew as clay Bertrand is not the person you have seen as Clay Shaw?
DEAN ANDREW, ATTORNEY: Scout's honor he is not.
VINCENT BUGLIOSI, AUTHOR: Garrison started bribing witnesses, intimidating witnesses.
MIGUEL TORRES, CONVICT: He said I could be made to serve this whole nine-year sentence. Or I could be cut loose right away.
BUGLIOSI: Hypnotizing witnesses.
GARRISON: We decided to give him objectifying machinery to make sure he was telling the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you say these methods were illegal?
GURVICH: I would very say illegal and unethical.
BUGLIOSI: He had everyone and their grandmother involved in the assassination. At one time it was oil millionaires. Then it was the minutemen. Then it was a homosexual killing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
Do you feel that homosexuality or the coercion of homosexuality was a factor in the planning or the assassination of John F. Kennedy?
GARRISON: No comment.
BUGLIOSI: At one point he had 16 assassins in Dealey Plaza. With that many assassins, I don't know how Kennedy made it to the autopsy table.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Garrison announced he had discovered a code.
MIKE WALLACE, FORMER NEWS ANCHOR: He said Jack Ruby's unlisted telephone number appears in address books belonging to Shaw and Oswald.
SEN. RUSSELL LONG (R), LOUISIANA: So if you take the "P" and the "O" and you use a telephone dial, "P" gives you 7, "O" gives you 6.
EPSTEIN: He just changed the digits around, added digits, added letters.
LONG: And you reconstruct the numbers, and then you subtract 1300 and that gives you Ruby's unlisted telephone number.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Garrison, if the P.O. didn't exist until later how would it be his phone number?
GARRISON: Well, that's a problem for you to think over, because you obviously missed the point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anyone would expose Garrison, he would then say, "They're CIA agents," because he's pointed to conspiracy. JOHNNY CARSON, FORMER HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: Who's suppressing this
on whose order?
GARRISON: I'll tell you who's suppressing it. The federal government is suppressing it.
CARSON: Who in the federal government?
GARRISON: The administration. The administration of your government is suppressing it because they know that the Central Intelligence Agency...
CARLSON: On whose order?
GARRISON: On the order of the president of the United States.
CARSON: Mr. Garrison has come up with no credible evidence to support any of his theories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that it's unfortunate for the media of this country has become so hysterical for fear of what it might see that it spends a good deal of its time and energy attacking the one serious investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The result of his four months of public investigation have been to damage reputations, to spread fear and suspicion and, worst of all, to exploit the nation's sorrow and doubts about President Kennedy's death.
GARRISON: I can't make any more comments about the case except to say that anybody that thinks it's just a theory is going to be awfully surprised when it comes to trial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roll one sound on film Clay Shaw trial. Clay Shaw came to court in good spirits today. With his long-awaited trial under way Shaw seems almost relieved that his case is finally being heard.
Shaw sits quietly in this courthouse, chain smoking cigarettes. He does not react when the state talks about things like conspiracy.
JAMES: The trial went on for six weeks. It's important to note that not one witness produced by Garrison survived cross-examination. They were all proven to be unreliable at best.
PERRY RUSSO, WITNESS: The most shameful thing you've ever seen. Everyone knew in the courtroom that Clay Shaw couldn't possibly have been more innocent.
JAMES: In a unanimous verdict by a 12-man jury, Shaw was found not guilty of charges that he conspired to kill the late president, John Kennedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you do it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the not guilty verdict, editorials around the country, said it's one of the darkest chapters in American jurisprudence history.
LANE: From what I had seen and heard I didn't think he had proven Clay Shaw's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I would have voted not guilty for Clay Shaw.
SHAW: I think that Garrison feels that the end justifies the means. And he felt that if he could bring to the American people what he considered the truth about the death of their president, any means whatsoever was supposed to be used. It didn't matter much who got hurt in the process.
GARRISON: I would sum it up by saying that any society which allows a man like Jack Kennedy to have the top of his head torn off and then protects the assassins and obstructs any inquiry and attempt to find the truth is not a great society.
GARRISON: Information concerning the cause of the death of your president has been withheld from you.
BUGLIOSI: To show you how un-credible the conspiracy theorists are, over the last 50 years, at one time or another, they have accused 42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people of being involved in the assassination.
DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS ANCHOR: Could Oswald really have done this?
As a reporter, the greatest story for us would have been to find out somebody other than Oswald did it. And we tried hard to do that. But at every turn with the Kennedy assassination, things pointed to Oswald as not only a shooter but the shooter and the only shooter.
BUGLIOSI: At its core, this is a very simple case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill the president?
LEE HARVEY OSWALD, ACCUSED OF KILLING JOHN F. KENNEDY: I don't know what this is all about.
BUGLIOSI: If a person is innocent of a crime, chances are there's not going to be any evidence pointing toward his guilt. Why? Because he's innocent.
But with Oswald, the physical evidence, the directly circumstantial evidence, scientific evidence, everything points towards his guilt.
We'll never know why Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, because he's dead. But there are certain things we do know.
CHET HUNTLEY, NEWS ANCHOR: At the age of 13, a probation officer said he remembered Oswald as a truant, a troubled boy in need of psychiatric help, without which he might turn violent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After starting in high school, he promptly joined the Marines. Oswald's Marine career ended in 1959 when he was dishonorably discharged. A month later he was in Moscow, where he announced his decision to renounce his American citizenship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you an Marxist?
OSWALD: I would definitely say that I -- I am a Marxist, correct. But that does not mean, however, that I'm a communist.
BUGLIOSI: He desperately wants to become a Soviet citizen. He wants to renounce his American citizenship. They turn him down. What does he do? He slashes his wrists, tries to commit suicide.
HOLLAND: Lee Harvey Oswald had these dreams or delusions that he'd been harboring for a long time of an act that would lift him from his obscurity.
BUGLIOSI: A squad mate of his in the Marines said that Oswald wanted to do something that 10,000 years from now people would be talking about.
MICHAEL PAINE, OSWALD ACQUAINTANCE: It looked to me like an -- a stupid, irrational act. The opportunity presented itself to him and he probably wanted to make a mark on society and it suddenly occurred to him that he could.
HOWARD WILLENS, AUTHOR: People who think Oswald was sort of a patsy and such an ineffectual, innocent person forgot that Oswald was stopped by a police car and a policeman gets out, unarmed, to talk to him, and Oswald shoots him four times in the middle of the body. That plus his previous attempt on General Walker.
Interestingly, on Saturday morning in "The Dallas Morning News," it said that there may be a connection between this guy who was just arrested for killing a police officer and President Kennedy. And this effort to assassinate General Walker back in April.
EPSTEIN: Oswald used to attend a small discussion group. And he began to rail against this right-wing general, Edwin Walker, who was calling for the invasion of Cuba.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Walker was about as right-wing as you got in the early '60s. And Oswald saw Walker as an American Adolf Hitler.
EPSTEIN: And Oswald said someone should kill Walker. He then ordered a rifle with a sniper scope, and he planned very meticulously his assassination of General Walker. He took photographs from different angles, he figured out how to get his rifle there and how to escape.
PRISCILLA MCMILLAN, AUTHOR: On March 31, a Sunday, he asked Marina to come out and take his photograph.
EPSTEIN: All in black, pistol, rifle in his hand, holding a few radical newspapers, and Marina writes on the back "hunter of fascists" and dates it April 6, 1963.
MCMILLAN: And then he went on the night of the 10th of April, took up his place and shot at General Walker. MARINA OSWALD, LEE HARVEY'S WIDOW: He came in the house 11:30. He
was so pale, nervous and wouldn't talk. And I said, "What happened to you?"
And he said -- he told, "I tried to shot General Walker."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General, will you describe for us just what happened last night?
MAJ. GEN. EDWIN WALKER, SURVIVED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT: Rifle shot was fired into the house, fired through the west window. And hit the sill and hit the wall across the room and went over the desk at which I was sitting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very disappointed to find out that he missed by less than an inch.
HOLLAND: It shows his ability to plan who his target was and that Oswald was capable of violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that was kind of the Rosetta stone, that if you understood the Walker shooting, you understood that Lee was like a cocked rifle. And he could go off anytime.
ERIC SEVARED, JOURNALIST: What set the conspiracy notion about the Kennedy assassination among many Americans was the sheer incongruity of the affair. All that power and majesty, wiped out in an instant by one skinny, weak-chinned little character.
CRONKITE: It is true that the answers to some questions leave us restless. The theory that a single bullet struck down both the president and the governor, for example, has too much of the long arm of coincidence about it for us to be entirely comfortable.
JIM NEWTON, AUTHOR: It doesn't satisfy our sense of narrative or justice that a small person of no distinction can be of such historical consequences as to kill the president of the United States.
CRONKITE: But would we be more comfortable believing that a shot was fired by a second assassin who materialized out of thin air for the purpose, fired a shot, and then vanished again into thin air, leaving behind no trace of himself, his rifle, his bullet or any other sign of existence?
LLOYD WEINRES: There were two groups of people. There's one group that will look at an extraordinary coincidence, a cataclysmic circumstance and say, "Yes, that's the way the world works." There's another group of people for whom that's quite unsettling.
ROBERT DALLEK, AUTHOR: They don't want to believe that something so random could have occurred. Can you believe that you could step off a curb someday and be killed by an oncoming car? Nobody believes in that kind of possibility for themselves, but it happens. Is life that fortuitous, that uncertain? WEINRES: And for them, oddly, the notion of a conspiracy is more
comforting than the absence of it. Because if there's a conspiracy, at least there's a plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the five bullets fired from at least two different directions were the result of a conspiracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kennedy's killing touches off a belief in the idea, you can't trust government.
CRONKITE: There has been a loss morale, a loss of confidence among the American people toward their own government and the men who serve it, that is perhaps more wounding than the assassination itself.
BUGLIOSI: They've lost so much faith in government that they actually think that the government is an accessory after the fact for the president's murder. Can't get too much worse than that.
ROBERT CARO, AUTHOR: The assassination changed the trajectory of the '60s. America was a different place on the day before John F. Kennedy was killed. So when you look at America as a whole in the 20th century, you look at America in the '60s, you really say, that day was a dividing point.
JOHNNY TACKETT, JOURNALIST: I guess in the average man's life there are two or three emotional experiences that he doesn't forget because they're burned into his heart and his brain. And no matter what happens to me, I'll remember November 22 as long as I live. And it's impossible for me now to this day, and I'm sure ten years from now to go out to Dallas without looking at the sixth floor of the book depository building, and it's impossible for me to drive by the Texas hotel today and not think of that morning when President Kennedy spoke there. It will always be with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kennedy alongside of the other presidents, Johnson, Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Reagan, the two Bushes, even Bill Clinton, people, they don't remember what they did but they remember their rhetoric. They remember the images.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what people wish for again in the government. They want someone who inspires them, who gives them hope, for whom they have a kind of admiration. Kennedy's standing hold on the public, I think, will only fade if and when we get another president about whom they feel the same way as they currently feel about Kennedy.