The Warren Report Author:The The shock and the grief and the sense of national dissary were beyond measure. On a sunny Friday in Dallas, the young, attractive President of the United States was shot and killed. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who seemed only then to be reaching the crest of his talents as leader of his country and the Western world, was now dead. And two days late... more »r, even as Americans were beginning to regain a semblance of national dignity in the majesty of their grief, the accused assassin was himself shot and killed. Lee Harvey Oswald was now dead, his secrets silenced. Throughout the country and diverse parts of the world, friendly or hostile. long civilized or newly emerged, the tears and the incredulity spread.
Four days we watched, from that Friday to that endless Monday, we watched on television and were numbed by what we saw. Who can say when the tears ended? Who can say the last time he awoke and, somewhere between full sleep and full wakefulness, there lingered the hope, wished so hard it felt real, that none of this had happened?
While the grief was slow to ebb, the incoming tide brought other feelings. There was now, in minds of many, the suspicion that there must be more to the Dallas story.Perhaps it was because the human mind demanded a symmetry of cause and effect. Perhaps it was because the mind refused to believe that the President of the United States, an elegant symbol of the most powerful and, we thought, the most civilized nation on earth, could so simply be shot in the light of day and his head exploded on one of our streets. Surely the motive, if not the killer, somehow had to fit the size of the victim, and there must have been a conspiracy relative to the world of Armageddon in which he lived. A gnat simply does not kill a lion.
The questions tumbled forward. Was John Kennedy actually murdered by Lee Harvey Oswaldand, if so, had Oswald acted alone? Had Jack Ruby known Oswald? Were they somehow knowing or unknowing parts of the same conspiracy, one to kill the President and the other to kill and silence the killer? Were we to believe in an amazing coincidenceof derangement: that a sullen little man, for his own twisted reasons, could kill a President and then, while in police custody, himself be killed by another little man with his twisted reasons? Did one unbalanced mind rob us of a President and another, of his murderer? And if we say that and if we see that, are we then close to sensing that the sick world, though unknown to each other, may form as dangerous a conspiracy as any political plot from the left or from the right?
But this last question goes beyond the Commission's immediate purpose. It was the other questions which the Warren Commission was called upon to answer. The Commission was appointed by President Johnson. It was headed by the Chief Justice of the United States, composed of distinguished citizens, and had at its disposal all the investigative resources of a proud government. Here, then, are its answers. Will history be fully content with the answers? History is rarely content in these matters.« less