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Aired January 14, 2008

Oswald's Ghost

Film Description

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left a psychic wound on America that is with us still today. Few Americans then or now accept that a lone, inconsequential gunman could bring down a president and alter history. In that breach, a culture of conspiracy has arisen that points to sinister forces at work in the shadows. Drawing upon rarely seen archival footage and interviews with key participants, Oswald's Ghost takes a fresh look at Kennedy's assassination, the public's reaction to the tragedy, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in the institutions that govern our society.


Directed, Written, and Produced by
Robert Stone

Edited by
Don Kleszky and Robert Stone

Line Producer
Hazel Gurland

Original Score by
Gary Lionelli

Principal Photography
Howard Shack

Second Unit Photography
Nelson Hume
Robert Stone

Additional Photography
Justin Schein
Sandi Sissel

Supervising Sound Editor
Coll Anderson M.P.S.E.

Sound EFX Editors
Stephen Barden
Mark Filip

Assistant Sound Editor
Matt Snedecor

Re-Recording Mixer
Coll Anderson M.P.S.E.

Academic Advisor
Robert Dallek

Historical Consultant
Edward Jay Epstein

Archival Consultant
Gary Mack

Archival Research
Hazel Gurland
Robert Stone

Additional Research
Jeff Krulik
Joseph P. Harris

Graphics And Effects Design
Brian Mitchell, Managing Director
John Leamy, Creative Director
Bennet Lieber, Head of Productions
Chase Massingill, Designer

On-Line Editor
Lawrence Mercer

Mike Maguire

Color Correction & Mastering
Du-Art Film & Video, New York

Audio Post Production
C.A. Sound, New York

Bono Film & Video, Arlington, VA

Legal Services
Ben Feldman, Esq.
Epstein, Levensohn, Bodin, Hurwitz and Weinstein, LLP

Producer's Representative
Jane Balfour Services, London

Production Intern
Natalia Rodriguez

Archival Sources / Footage Courtesy of
ABC NEWS Video Source
AP Images
Archive Films and Image Bank Films by Getty Images
Assassination Archives and Research Center
Ollie Atkins Collection, George Mason University
Hugh Aynesworth Collection
BBC Motion Gallery
Mark Bell Film
Bolerium Books
Jack Daniel Film
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
KDFW News, NW Communications of Texas, Inc.
NBC 5 / KXAS Dallas - Fort Worth
Last Hurrah Books
Library of Congress
Louisiana State Archives
Lyndon B. Johnson Library
MPI Media Group, Inc.
National Archives
NBC News Archives
Tina Towner Pender Film
Polaris Communications, Inc.
James Tague Collection
Time & LIFE by Getty Images
The WPA Film Library

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza:
KRLD-TV / KDFW Collection
KTVT Collection
WFAA Collection
Elsie Dorman Film
Robert Hughes Film
Frank Marotta Film
Orville Nix Film
George Reid Film
Jackie Tindel Film
Abraham Zapruder Film

Special Thanks
Laurie Austin
Hugh Aynesworth
Rex Bradford
Megan Bryant
Priscilla Johnson McMillan
Melissa Cohen
Deborah Marine
Colleen Cooney
Robert Dallek
Edward Jay Epstein
Brad France
Todd Gitlin
Senator Gary Hart
Chris Harvey
Tom Hayden
Mark Lane
Gary Mack
Norman Mailer
Frank Mankiewicz
James Mathis
Dan Rather
Larry Schiller
Art Simon
Congressman Louis Stokes
James Tague
Josiah Thompson
Kyla Wilson
Andy Winiarczyk

Mozart Requiem 
"Lacrimosa" "Requiem aeternam" "Rex tremendae"
Conducted by Riccardo Muti
Performed by Patrizia Pace, Waltraud Meier, Frank Lopardo, James Morris
Swedish Radio Chorus, Stockholm Chamber Choir, Berliner Philharmoniker
Courtesy of EMI Records Ltd. Under license from EMI Film & Television Music

For American Experience

Post Production
Greg Shea
Glenn Fukushima

Series Designer
Alison Kennedy

On-line Editor
Spencer Gentry

Sound Mix
John Jenkins

Series Theme
Mark Adler

Production Manager
Nancy Sherman

Jay Fialkov
Maureen Jordan

Project Administration
Susana Fernandes
Pamela Gaudiano
Sherene Ing
Vanessa Ruiz

Nancy Farrell
Anna Fort
Ravi Jain
Anna Malsberger
Stewart Smith

Director of New Media
Maria Daniels

Brand Director
Sarah Montague

Jen Holmes
Lauren Prestileo

Series Editor
Susan Bellows

Senior Editor
Paul Taylor

Series Manager
James E. Dunford

Coordinating Producer
Susan Mottau

Series Producer
Sharon Grimberg

Executive Producer for BBC
Nick Fraser

Executive Producer for American Experience
Mark Samels

A Robert Stone Productions film for American Experience in association with BBC

© 2008 WGBH Educational Foundation and Robert Stone Productions, LLC
All rights reserved


Josiah Thompson, Investigator: A president of the United States is shot down at high noon in a public square with some 400 or 500 people looking on, with maybe at least 38 of them taking film and photos, and now over 40 years later we don't know what happened.

Robert Dallek, Historian: How could someone as inconsequential as Lee Harvey Oswald have killed someone as consequential as John F. Kennedy? People are comforted by the idea, I think, that human affairs are not the product of random events. There's some larger force at work here.

Norman Mailer, Novelist: The real shock was philosophical, as if God had removed his sanction from America. Which to me is a most basic notion, because to this day a majority of Americans feel that America is the God approved nation. It's the one that God loves the most. After that assassination there was a feeling that there was something under everything. That the U.S. might not go on forever. The country was washed in the same kind of pain and confusion and consternation that followed 9/11.

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: As long as a mystery resides at the center of this case, it can't be closed. There's this fundamental question mark that still stands there in the center of our experience in the 20th century.

District Attorney Wade Full name is Lee Harvey Oswald, O-S-W-A-L-D.

Reporter: Is there any indication that this was an organized plot or was it just one man?

District Attorney Wade: There's no one else but him.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Historian: On the 22nd of November, I was thinking about a letter I had mailed to President Kennedy the evening before, when a friend came and told me that Kennedy had been shot. And I said, "Well, have they caught anyone?" And she said, "Yes, his name is Lee Harrr -- " and I knew the rest. I think I said to her, "that boy." You know, it was just something you couldn't believe ... because I knew him.

Tom Pettit: In Dallas, the prime suspect still is being questioned. He is 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald of Dallas, a former Marine, who spent some time in Russia who at one time had applied for Soviet citizenship. Oswald has been placed in the building from where the bullets were fired at President Kennedy. Oswald denies killing President Kennedy, says he's being held because he was in Russia. But Dallas Police Chief J. E. Curry says interrogation of Oswald will continue, that he is a very good suspect in the death of President Kennedy.

Reporter: Is this the man you believe killed President Kennedy?

Chief Curry: I think we have the right man.

Reporters: Let's get one shot of him. Can we get one statement please?

Lee Harvey Oswald: I'd like some legal representation but these police officers have not allowed me to, to have any. I don't know what this is all about.

Reporter: Did you kill the president?

Lee Harvey Oswald: No, sir. I didn't. People keep asking me that. Sir?

Reporter: Did you shoot the president?

Lee Harvey Oswald: I work in that building.

Reporter: Were you in the building at the time?

Lee Harvey Oswald: Naturally, if I work in that building, yes sir.

Reporter: Back up ma'am! Did you shoot the president?

Lee Harvey Oswald: No, they are taking me in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union. I'm just a patsy!

Reporter: Did you shoot the president?

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: I'd had coffee with my friends at the Dallas News and I didn't have anything to do that morning. So by I guess about 11 o'clock I decided I'd just walk over, it isn't every day that the president comes to town, you know. As he goes by two or three seconds later, I hear a pop, I think it is a motorcycle backfire because a motorcycle had just gone by, and then suddenly a second or two later another and then another. Three shots.

Police Radio: Go to the Hospital. We're on our way to Parkland Hospital, have 'em stand by.

Dan Rather, Reporter: : Suddenly, the presidential limousine swept by. So I was a little bit confused but the main thing was I didn't see the rest of the motorcade coming. I didn't know that anything had happened. A lot of people in the crowd itself had no idea what had happened.

Police radio: Get men up on top of that over -- underpass. See what happened up there. Go up to the overpass.

Police radio: Can you give us any information as to what happened?

Police radio: Looks like the president has been hit ... 295?

Police radio: Two hundred and ninety-five. They say the president's head was practically blown off.

Dan Rather, Reporter: When I saw people running, pointing, shouting, I said, "Boy, I've got to get back to the station, I am responsible for coverage here," and I zipped.

Police Radio: Two hundred and sixty. We have a man here who says he saw a fellow pull a weapon back through a window of that Depository building.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: I was interviewing everyone who thought they saw anything or heard anything. One of the first people I interviewed was the real one eyewitness that sat on the parapet just across from Oswald and watched him for several minutes in the window. That's how they got the all-points bulletin a few minutes later.

Police Radio: Could the man determine if that man is still supposed to be in the building or had he left?

Police Radio: He didn't know for certain, but we've got that building saturated by now. We should know something before long ...

Police Radio: Attention all squads: the suspect in the shooting is reported to be an unknown white male about 30, slender build, five feet 10 inches tall, 165 pounds. No further description at this time or information. 12:45.

Police Radio: Notify one, that we have an officer involved in a shooting at 10th and Patton.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: I thought, my God, that has got to be connected. Someone shoots at the president here, somebody shoots a cop three or four miles away. . . So I grabbed two guys and we drove like mad. Got there just in time to interview three or four people who had seen him shoot Mr. Tippit. There was no doubt, you know, they'd all described the same guy. And then they said the suspect seen in the Texas Theater, which was about a block or so from where Tippit was killed. So I took off running to the Texas Theater. I get to the door, open it up and here they're coming up the isle. Four or five policemen and right in front of me, maybe 15 or 20 feet, they jumped on Oswald. He put up a big fight. All I heard him say is, "I protest this police brutality," he said that twice.:

Police Radio: Is that Tippit D.O.A.?

Police Radio: Yes.

Police Radio: Have they released any condition on the president?

Police Radio: We understand he's D.O.A. too.

CBS Cronkite: From Dallas, Texas the flash apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1pm Central Standard Time, two o'clock Eastern Standard time, some 38 minutes ago. Vice President Lyndon Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know to where he has proceeded. Presumably he will be taking the oath of office shortly and become the 36th president of the United States.

Dan Rather, Reporter: I don't think I was alone, but I didn't know what to think. So much was happening so quickly and we were all dealing again with the emotional undertow of the assassination. Confusion reigned inside the Dallas police station. Journalists were descending from all over the world.

Reporter: Oh cut it out! For Christ's sakes, you don't have to push!

Dan Rather, Reporter: It was a miasma of confusion, chaos and there were still echoes of, well is this the last of it or is there some conspiracy, foreign-led or otherwise, that led to all of this?

Lee Harvey Oswald: I positively know nothing about this situation here. I would like to have legal representation.

Reporters: Louder!

Mark Lane, Attorney: First thing that made me think about this matter about Oswald's alleged guilt was when I saw him on television. As a defense lawyer I saw a guy and I thought he might be telling the truth when he said he didn't know anything. He seemed really bewildered.

Lee Harvey Oswald: Uh, I really don't know what this situation is about. Nobody has told me anything except that I am accused of ah ... of murdering a policeman. I know nothing more than that and I do request uh someone to come forward to give me legal assistance.

Reporter: Did you kill the president?

Lee Harvey 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.

Reporter: You have been charged.

Reporter: Nobody said what?

Lee Harvey Oswald: Sir?

Reporter: You have been charged.

Reporter: Nobody said what? We can't hear you back here!

Reporter: What did you do in Russia?

Reporter: How did you hurt your eye? Oswald, how did you hurt your eye?

Lee Harvey Oswald: A policeman hit me.

Mark Lane, Attorney: I thought if he had been in my office, I would have taken his remarks very, very seriously.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: I would say most of the public thought Oswald probably did do it alone, but there is an interesting possibility he didn't, of course, the possibility that he had help.

Robert Dallek, Historian: There were concerns among people close to Kennedy about his traveling to Dallas because the city had a reputation for being a bastion of the Right Wing. There was a General Edwin Walker there --

General Edwin Walker: I am a target for destruction!

Robert Dallek, Historian: -- who was a quite extreme,

General Edwin Walker: I have no fear!

Robert Dallek, Historian: -- fiercely anti-de-segregation,

General Edwin Walker: I have drawn the battle line!

Robert Dallek, Historian: -- fiercely anti-government. There had been an incident in October of '63. Adlai Stevenson who was Kennedy's Ambassador to the United Nations had been roughed up. So people thought if anything was going to happen in Dallas that endangered Kennedy's life it would come from the Right Wing.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: The Dallas Morning News editorial page was very, very vehement against Mr. Kennedy. And you know they ran that vicious ad the day he came here, "Welcome Mr. President" and then telling why he wasn't too welcome. There was a small cadre of people here, some of the rich oil people, some of the far Right conservatives, and they were mean, and they were vitriolic, and they hated him.

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: Huh? In Dallas? A Lefty shoots the president? Well, maybe, but I'm going to have to be shown. I mean this was not high-level analysis.

Reporter: Did you fire that rifle?

Lee Harvey Oswald: I don't know what facts you people have been given but I emphatically deny these charges. I have not committed any acts of violence.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: Well the evidence was, even at the beginning, was persuasive if not overwhelming. People had seen him enter and leave the Texas Book Depository. They found his rifle with his palm print on it. He shot a policeman and the casings of the bullets found around the policeman's body matched his pistol. The only thing that was questioned was, would he confess or was he being framed?

Lee Harvey Oswald: Ahhh!

KLIF Radio Reporter: A shot rung out! A shot has rung out! And Lee Harvey Oswald falls! Lee Harvey Oswald has fallen! A shot has rung out here! A shot is being ... And ladies and gentleman, Lee Harvey Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald has just been shot!

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: I couldn't see it 'cause there were too many people between me. But I heard a pop, one, and then somebody said, 'they say his name is Jack Ruby.' And I thought, 'Oh my god, Jack Ruby.' I know that guy, you know. I know him.

Reporter: Here comes Oswald. He is ashen and unconscious at this time now being moved in. He is not moving. He is in the ambulance now, attendants, police are ...

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: This seemed just really odd. I mean the whole, the whole picture being presented that an obscure so-called leftist in the middle of right-wing Dallas should end up shooting the president and then himself being murdered within days, seemed extremely difficult to believe.

Tom Hayden: These things cause an indelible impression regardless of what, you know, printed evidence materializes later. The impression is somebody organized a conspiracy to wipe out Oswald.

Hughes Rudd: The man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald has been identified as Jack Ruby, R-U-B-Y. He runs a place in Dallas called the Carousel Club which is a kind of a strip joint and nightclub. He has been seen around the City Hall for the last two days and he was even handing out cards offering free drinks to reporters yesterday.

Reporter: Does he realize that what he's done will perhaps create a question for the rest of history, who killed President Kennedy?

Reporter: Jack would you say something? Why did you do it, Jack? Do you have anything to say? Jack?

Harry Reasoner: As those of you know who have been watching, this fantastic event was being recorded on videotape here at CBS News headquarters. We have now re-cued the tape.

Todd Gitlin, Student Activist: When the assassin is assassinated on television this is not only appalling, it's also uncanny. Being witnesses in this odd way via television, you are an extra in this, you know, historical drama, and you are therefore implicated in it.

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: The Kennedy assassination was a kind of tectonic shift, and we knew it at the time. Something had shifted under our feet. And we knew during that weekend and certainly within days of that weekend in November 1963, that things would never be the same again.

Gary Hart, U.S. Senator: The image of politicians up to that time was a kind of a stereotypical backroom, arm-twisting, deal-making character. And along came this very attractive, very articulate 44-year old. War hero. Intelligent. Read books. Knew history. So he almost totally single-handedly transformed the image of a politician.

John F. Kennedy: The energy, the faith, the devotion, which we bring to this endeavor, will light our country and all who serve it and the glow that fire can truly light the world.

Tom Hayden: We thought that we could change the world. This is the key thing that I think ended, for me certainly, with the murder of Kennedy.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Historian: I worked for him in the spring of 1953 when he was a newly elected Senator. I liked him. He was a lot of fun. I think Kennedy's main response to being shot would be curiosity, to know why.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: Kennedy was different. Everyone either loved or hated him, but he was something special. And the way it happened and the way with Jack Ruby and what he did afterward, killing Oswald, made it seem like a unsolved forever murder.

Norman Mailer, Novelist: Naturally conspiracy theories began immediately, and they were very heavy. And a good many of us spent many years looking for a conspiracy, I certainly was one of them.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: One was that Fidel Castro had influenced Oswald to do it. Another was that it was done by a rogue element in the CIA. Another even more serious one was that the KGB or the Russian government had ordered it. There were many, many elements all of which could raise all sort of uh ghosts from the past. Johnson thought the best thing was creating an impartial Commission of seven prominent men of unimpeachable reputations and that they could do an exhaustive investigation and put to rest the rumors.

Robert Dallek, Historian: There was a race to get the Warren Commission Report out before the '64 election to quiet the issue, to put it aside so to speak, whether temporarily or permanently, but at least temporarily. There was a certain attitude on Johnson's part that if you have people like John J. McCloy and Richard Russell and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, the country is going to accept this.

Dan Rather, Reporter: The Warren Commission hearings were not televised and why they weren't, I don't know. I think the attitude of the country was, 'we need to know what happened, but we need to move on.' Unity is important in the wake of a tremendously dangerous event such as this, so let's give the government the benefit of even very serious doubt.

Lyndon Johnson: Yes?

White House operator: J. Edgar Hoover on 2192.

Lyndon Johnson: How many, how many, how many shots were fired?

J. Edgar Hoover: Three.

Lyndon Johnson: Any of them fired at me?

J. Edgar Hoover: Uh, no.

Lyndon Johnson: All three at the president?

J. Edgar Hoover: All three at the president and we have them. Two of the shots fired at the president were splintered, uh but they had characteristics on 'em so that our ballistics expert was able to prove that they were fired from this gun.

Lyndon Johnson: Did you get a picture of him, shooting?

J. Edgar Hoover: Oh no, there was no picture taken of him shooting.

Lyndon Johnson: Well what was this picture that that fellow sold for $25,000?

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: Abraham Zapruder picked the one location in Dealey Plaza that a Hollywood film crew would have picked if they were going to film the assassination.

Jay Watson: May I have your name please, sir?

Abraham Zapruder: My name is Abraham Zapruder.

Jay Watson: Mr. Zapuda?

Abraham Zapruder: Zapruder, yes sir.

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: Within seconds Zapruder knew he had an enormously valuable property.

Abraham Zapruder: I got out and uh about a half hour earlier and get myself a good spot to shoot some pictures.

Dan Rather, Reporter: He got an attorney and the attorney said, 'Here's what is going to happen, we have a projector in a room here, we are going to put the film up once, and one time only so you can see it and know what he has and then I'll talk to you about some arrangements. Which was whether the film was going to be for sale and if so, how much. Because I saw the film and came back and described it on the television before anybody had seen it and before anybody else had described it, I was thrust into the middle of the controversy over the Kennedy assassination.

Dan Rather, Reporter: At that moment when the president had his right hand up to this side of his face, he lurched just a bit forward. It was obvious that the first shot had hit him. Governor Connally with his coat open his button was undone, turned in this manner. The Governor was obviously hit by a bullet. Another bullet obviously hit the head of the president. The president's head went forward violently in this manner.

Mark Lane, Attorney: I don't know why Dan Rather, Reporter said that. It was clear that the head went backward. You can tell it in LIFE Magazine when they published it. The bullet hit him in the head and his head went backward.

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: LIFE Magazine purchased all rights to the film but did not release it for television use supposedly on taste reasons. If that film had been shown on television on the week of November 22nd or in the subsequent weeks at that time, raises the interesting question whether anybody would have bought the notion that a single lone-nut firing from behind the president had brought this off.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: There were doubts of the direction the shots came in. There were doubts that this wasn't a political assassination. There were rumors that Oswald was maybe being framed because he was a Communist, at this point his mother was saying he was being framed.

Marguerite Oswald: I have more circumstantial evidence to substantiate this fact than the Dallas police have. Also, I believe that Lee was a government agent, and there's many reasons why I believe this.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: Oswald's mother, Marguerite, was one of the weirdest people I've ever run into. Some people were actually afraid of her and I can understand why.

Marguerite Oswald: Lee Harvey Oswald, my son, even after his death, has done more for his country than any other living human being.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: She was constantly calling me claiming that he was involved in a conspiracy with the CIA and all. She said, 'My son is innocent, he was an FBI agent.' She was always groveling for money for interviews for anything. And then she got involved with Mark Lane, Attorney. Mark Lane, Attorney had written a story in the National Guardian listing many, many reasons why Oswald couldn't have done it alone. This was early on, probably early December of '63.

Mark Lane, Attorney: The article said there are unanswered questions about the assassination of president Kennedy. Soon after that, I got a phone call from Marguerite Oswald and she said, "you are the only lawyer in American who says there is a question about whether he did it." So I flew down to Dallas to talk with her. I never thought about being Oswald's attorney, but Marguerite Oswald told me that she believed that her son worked for the United States government in some capacity and that he had specialized training in Russian, that he was allowed to bring his wife back from Russia and the government paid for his coming back. And she was sure he had never been involved in killing the president, and she asked me to represent her son's interests.

Mark Lane, Attorney: I am certain that if the case were tried based upon the facts which were submitted to the public on November 24th by the District Attorney of Dallas, there could have been no conviction. Because I think it is quite plain that the shots, some of the shots or at least one of the shots that was fired which struck the president was fired from in front of the president not from the rear.

Reporter: Oswald's widow is back for a second session with the Warren Commission's investigation of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy today and reportedly told the investigators she once locked her husband in a room after he threatened to kill former Vice President Richard Nixon.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Historian: The people on the Commission whom I spoke to when I testified, they were working on Oswald and they were very psychoanalytically oriented. I testified that I went to Moscow in the summer of 1958 and got a job with the North American Newspaper Alliance. I found out that this young defector was staying in the Metropol Hotel. So I went by his room and he wanted to talk about Soviet economics and Marxism. He talked also about discrimination, racial discrimination. I wanted to ask him why he wanted to leave the United States. And he said that if he stayed in the United States his fate would be like that of his mother; he would be poor, he would work hard. He thought he was more than he was and he sought to identify himself with something big.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: At a certain point, the Warren Commission decided to do a reconstruction of how Oswald could have fired three bullets in a very brief period of less than six seconds. So, they set up a rifle where that rifle was, and they drove a car at the same speed by the same secret servicemen. And when they finished photographing it they found that the foliage on the trees blocked a few seconds of the window of opportunity that Oswald had to fire the bullets. And so at this point Arlen Specter, who was the junior council on the Warren Commission, came up with a theory of how it could be done by one bullet going through the president and continuing on and hitting John Connally. This was all a hypothesis and people later referred to it as the Single Bullet Theory or the Magic Bullet Theory. A number of Commissioners like John McCloy and Allen Dulles didn't accept that there was any evidence backing this hypothesis, but they didn't have any alternative. All of the Commissioners felt that Oswald had fired the bullets that had killed Kennedy, they didn't have any doubts about that.

Richard Russell: The Commission believes that the same bullet that hit Kennedy hit Connally. Well I don't believe it.

Lyndon Johnson: I don't either.

Richard Russell: And so I couldn't sign it. And I said that Governor Connally testified directly to the contrary and I'm not going to approve of that. So I finally made them say that there was difference in the Commission in that. Part of them believed that that wasn't so. But anyhow that is just a little thing ...

Lyndon Johnson: So what's the net of the whole thing, what does it say? That Oswald did it and he did it for any reason?

Richard Russell: Well, just that he was a general misanthropic fellow that he had never been satisfied anywhere he was in Russia or here and that he had a desire to get his name in history and all. I don't think that you'll be displeased with the Report. It is too long, but it's four volumes.

Lyndon Johnson: Unanimous?

Richard Russell: Yes, sir.

Walter Cronkite: It is now 15-seconds after 6:30 pm 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 a conspiracy? The Commission answers he acted alone.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: When the Warren Report came out in September of 1964 it was universally accepted by the establishment media. If one reads LIFE Magazine or what Dan Rather, Reporter said on CBS, it was taken as almost as a biblical pronouncement.

Robert Dallek, Historian: Johnson to the end of his life, I'm convinced, believed that there was some kind of conspiracy. He never fully trusted the Warren Commission's conclusion that the only killer was Lee Harvey Oswald. But Johnson was a man with powerful paranoid impulses and thoughts. At first, he thought it was the South Vietnamese who were retaliating for the coup detach that toppled the Diem government and the killing of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon, which happened roughly three weeks before Kennedy was killed. Indeed, it was a coup d'etat sanctioned by Washington so there was instant suspicion in Lyndon Johnson's mind. Now over time, Johnson moved away from that, continued to believe there was a conspiracy, but now believed it came out of Cuba, 'cause he learned that there had been assassination plots in CIA circles to take out Castro. Johnson would say they were thinking of assassinating Castro, but he got to Kennedy first. So, he needs to show the Soviets, the Chinese Communists, the Cuban Communists that he's tough. And the one place he sees where he can do this most directly, most efficiently is in Vietnam.

Norman Mailer, Novelist: You know, what you've got is this comedy of conspiratorialists top and bottom. The conspiratorialists who were in on it and didn't know how much they were in on it. Then you had the people who were out of it, the amateurs like myself, who were out of it, but kept believing that they were on in it. You know, it spread out. It was an incredible morass of possibilities.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: My book came out in April 1966 and opened a door. The entire thesis of my book is that the Warren Commission, although an honest organization, did not do an exhaustive investigation and could have overlooked certain areas and those areas could have included a conspiracy. And then Mark Lane, Attorney, whose book Rush to Judgment became a much bigger best-seller than mine, had a sort of conspiracy theory where the Commission itself was in on the conspiracy to hide the evidence.

Mark Lane, Attorney: The book took off, became the number one best-selling book in America and many other countries, a best selling book throughout the world. It became really clear that there was a great interest in this and nobody was talking about it beside me at that point.

Kenneth Harris: Mark Lane, Attorney sitting over there represents the doubters tonight. And to hear and answer the criticism of the Warren Report which we shall hear from him, we have Arlen Specter, District Attorney in Philadelphia.

Mark Lane, Attorney: Let me tell you about the very intelligent people who take the position that Oswald acted alone. Arlen Specter is a very good example. Specter invented the Magic Bullet Theory, he and David Belin. They knew it was false. They still know it's false.

Arlen Specter: 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. And Governor Connally was lined up right in front of him.

Kenneth Harris: Let me go to Mr. Lane, Attorney now because he'd like to say a word --

Arlen Specter: No, no! I object to that now. We have a format here. No, sir! I am about to go into the single bullet conclusion under our arrangement here.

Mark Lane, Attorney: What is the format? Is the format one which precludes my commenting? I'm afraid I am unfamiliar with that format.

Arlen Specter: We are not trying to hide a thing from you, or from Mr. Epstein, Journalist, or from Mr. Lane, Attorney, or the world. That we are laying it all out that's right here from 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've laid it on the line.

Mark Lane, Attorney: You have not. . .

Kenneth Harris: Mr. Lane, Attorney let me conduct this little discussion with Mr. Specter. Well, I quite agree and of course it is too uh ...

Mark Lane, Attorney: But I'd like to comment on a number of things.

Kenneth Harris: Well I'd like to say one thing Mr. Lane, Attorney that there may be a slight misunderstanding here.

Mark Lane, Attorney: I'm afraid there is. At least five shots were fired and shots came from at least two different directions at basically the same time. That's the definition of a conspiracy. As soon as my book came out the first Gallup poll showed that two thirds of the American people said they did not believe the Warren Report.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: Going from a view that the Warren Commission states the single truth to one where the Warren Commission is corrupt and incompetent, had a lot to do with the zeitgeist of the time. Had a lot to do with the Vietnam War. Had a lot to do with the idea that the public was doubting the creditability of the institutions including the government and the media that they had believed in 1964 they no longer believed in 1967. And once the public no longer believed in the government, they were more willing to believe that Mark Lane, Attorney would interpret a Zapruder film more correctly than a prosecutor like Arlen Specter.

Mark Lane, Attorney: All of these things were happening now. There were many changes taking place in America. In terms of the war, if you believe that the government lies to us about what was taking place in Vietnam, how can you believe anything the government tells us about the assassination of President Kennedy? How can you believe anything they tell us?

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: The Vietnam War. The lies. The lie after lie after lie. Beginning in Dallas, beginning with that event, one begins to wonder a bit who we are, where we're going, what's really happening to us?

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: Some people specialized in one area like the Tippit murder. Some people specialized in Jack Ruby, the ballistics, the eyewitnesses. They all had their own turf. But what people focused on was the actual mechanics of whether one person could have fired three bullets in a very brief period of less than six seconds.

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: I focused on what happened in Dealey Plaza because it seems to me that's the threshold question. That's the threshold question. That you can't answer any of the other questions like: who did it, or why did they do it, until you know what happened with some degree of, precision. Right? So, I think that question had logical priority. Here is the next frame, 239 ... The Zapruder film was the basic evidence in the case. I had seen the film in the Archives and that film had shown with indescribable violence the president hit in the head and boom! You see his body bowled over, backwards and to the left.

Reporter standup: Standing here at this film viewing machine in the motion picture research room of the National Archives, the serious researcher trying to find out just as the Warren Commission did, exactly what happened that day in Dallas, can view over and over again, three times on this one reel, the motion pictures made my amateur Abraham Zapruder that day in Dallas.

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: It's shocking. Just shocking. My conclusion was that shots came from three directions. That two shots came from the Depository window. That one shot came from a specific location behind the stockade fence. And another shot probably came from the roof of the Records building, kitty-corner across the street.

Mark Lane, Attorney: From forward in this direction to backwards sharply and to the left. At almost every college I spoke at it was the largest turn out in the history of the school for any lecture. Did you read any of this material in the Warren Commission Report? Is there a discussion of what frames 312 to 321 show? No. And when that happened, then that happened with a lot of the news media also. They were raising questions.

Cliff Michelmore: Why is the nightmare still so fresh? It's still fresh and real because from within a few days of the assassination there were people who refused to believe that a crime of this magnitude could have such a simple, pathetic solution. At the start Lane, Attorney was almost alone. Now he is just one among a growing band of doubters. And the doubters have had their effect. They've argued on television, talked into the night on the radio, produced their own versions of what happened.

Jim Garrison: There is no question about it. We know what cities were involved. We know how it was done in the essential respects. We know the key individuals involved and uh we are in the process of developing evidence now. I thought I made that clear days ago.

Mark Lane, Attorney: Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney, called me and said, "Can you come to New Orleans and help me out with this." And he'd read my book. I was there when Garrison talked to the news media from his office, the first time anyone said what he said, which is "Ladies and Gentleman, I have some information for you. Your CIA killed your president."

Reporter: Do you plan to subpoena any member of the CIA to hear you?

Jim Garrison: I'm sorry, I can't comment on plans in that way. I have to talk in generalities. I can't tell you what we are planning ...

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: Garrison helped elevate the Kennedy assassination from a forensic puzzle to was there a grand political motive where the bullets didn't really matter. Where what really mattered was, who benefited? Did Lyndon Johnson benefit? Was it to keep the Army in Vietnam? Was there a grand social purpose?

Robert Dallek, Historian: Lyndon Johnson is very concerned about these allegations that are coming out of New Orleans. What bothers him most is the possibility that he is going to be seen as the figure who's behind the conspiracy.

Lyndon Johnson: Hale tell you that, Hale Boggs, that this fellow District Attorney down there said that this is traced to me or something?

Ramsey Clark: I had heard that Garrison was saying that, ah privately around town, that could be traced back -- or that you could be found in it someplace, which I can't believe that he has been saying that. I think that what he is working on must be the associations that Oswald had in the three or fourth months when he was down there in '62, '63. I doubt, I think it would just be incredible if he had anything that went beyond that. Either that or this guy Garrison is just completely off his rocker.

Jim Garrison: It might seem to some, it might seem to have a rash or shocking effect because he is the president. But he's guilty of being an accessory after the fact and I think we should recognize it.

Norman Mailer, Novelist: The official conspiratorial theory was that Kennedy was killed 'cause he was getting ready to pull out of Vietnam, and that couldn't be. We had to stay in Vietnam. And like all of those theories it had certain plausibility and a depressing lack of proof.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: Garrison found a witness, a guy called Perry Russo, who he hypnotized, who said that he knew a guy called David Ferrie who had more or less told him he was in a conspiracy with Oswald.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: He came down, Perry Russo, from Baton Rouge. The first four days they put him on polygraph three times. He failed all of those. So they put him on Sodium Pentothal. I have a tape of Dr. Esmond Fatter leading the discussion under Sodium Pentothal.

Dr. Esmond Fatter: Perry, this door is the entrance to a time tunnel. You needn't be worried about it because we're all here and we will take good care of you. I'd like for you to open that door and go into the time tunnel and then you'll begin to spin through time. And you'll feel that spinning. And you'll spin and spin and spin and the time tunnel will throw you out: September 1963. And the people that you may meet and contact and be with is Dave Ferrie, Leon Oswald, Clay Bertrand. And now you go ahead and re-live all of the experiences in relationship to these people in September of 1963. And where are you now?

Perry Russo: Dave's house.

Dr. Fatter: And who else is there?

Perry Russo: His roommate.

Dr. Fatter: And I wonder what his roommate's name is?

Perry Russo: Leon.

Dr. Fatter: Leon. Does Leon have a last name?

Perry Russo: Oswald.

Dr. Fatter: Describe him for me. Take a good look at him and start from the top of his head and describe him.

Perry Russo: He is dirty. He's got brown hair. He's got a beard on, and old dirty clothes.

Dr. Fatter: And who else is in the apartment there? You and who else?

Perry Russo: Clem.

Dr. Fatter: Clem. And who else?

Perry Russo: Leon.

Dr. Fatter: Leon?

Perry Russo: And Dave.

Dr. Fatter: And Dave?

Perry Russo: Dave's just talking. He said it was so easy to do it. He said, if we did it, he said you needed three people, at three different locations, in a crossfire. And I heard that 10 times before. And then you have to get out and you have to make sure you get out in the confusion and be able to leave. And the easiest way to get out is to fly. And he said he could fly. Either you fly to Cuba or you fly to Mexico and on to Brazil.

Dr. Fatter: You can let yourself, and you will be amazed at how acute your memory will become in the next few weeks. Things will seem to pop into your mind and it'll be only the truth as you saw it.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: Perry Russo also connected David Ferrie to a guy called Clay Bertrand who was gay. So now he looked for a guy with the first name Clay who was gay. Garrison wound up accusing and then indicting the well-known citizen of New Orleans, Clay Shaw.

David Shoemacher: Garrison's investigation has seemed to concentrate on homosexuals. That of course is an old police trick, and homosexuals have been a particular target of Garrison's over the years. Even members of his staff have been privately critical of the emphasis on men whose deviation makes them vulnerable. And there's been criticism within the staff too of the decision to use drugs and hypnosis in interrogations and the introduction of a dope addict as a witness. Garrison is unperturbed, however, he points out that normal men don't plot to kill the president of the United States.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: Under Louisiana law, to charge Clay Shaw with any complicity in the assassination there had to be some kind of overt act. So, in other words there had be a plot session where Shaw had to go to Dallas or the Dallas people had to come. They had to meet. They had to know each other. And so he had this code.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: And bear with me, it is very complicated. And I'll tell you from the beginning that it is a simple hocus pocus act. But what Garrison did was take two five-digit numbers that was common to both Shaw and Oswald's address books. Transposing all the digits by choosing the nearest digit, then the farthest, then the nearest digit, Garrison managed to deduce the number 16901.The next step was to subtract the arbitrary number 1300. He got 15601. Finally, through some form of hocus-pocus Garrison converted the prefix PO to WH and presto! He came up with Jack Ruby's number, his unlisted telephone number. And to make it even more ludicrous, by using a different method of code breaking, if we can call this nonsense code breaking, he came up with a link between Oswald, Clay Shaw, Jack Ruby and the local CIA agent.

Mark Lane, Attorney: I mean, any number can be transposed to any other number if you do enough different things to it, and it would have been easier to just look it up in the phone book actually. So why would you go through all the code? But as he explained it, and he explained it to one of the Senators from Louisiana and he persuaded this guy. This guy then went on one of the network shows and tried to explain it and it was so pathetic because it was really I think nothing to it, but he had persuaded this Senator.

Senator Russell Long: So, if you take the P and the O and you use a telephone dial. P gives you seven and O gives you six and you add seven and six together and you get 13. Then you take the 19106. The ABCDE basis so you put A falls, comes ahead of E. And then you reconstruct the numbers and then you subtract 1300, which you got from the PO, and that gives you Ruby's unlisted telephone number.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: Garrison was idolized by people all over the world. They thought he had done what nobody else could do. He had the guts to charge somebody, solve this crime.

Clay Shaw: I think that Garrison feels that frightening aphorism, which seems to be so much that by which people govern themselves these days, that the end justifies the means.

Dan Rather, Reporter: When Garrison began his investigation, CBS News set about to do our own independent investigation on a size and scale that was unprecedented for the network.

Dan Rather, Reporter: Taking his rifle with him, Oswald went between the stacks of book cartons to the opposite corner of the sixth floor ...

Dan Rather, Reporter: We certainly had the motivation to come to a different conclusion than the Warren Commission did. Because if the Warren Commission has reached the wrong conclusion it would be the biggest story you could conceive of breaking.

Mike Wallace: You say that that Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill President Kennedy. Who then did kill him?

Jim Garrison: Well first of all, if I knew the names of the individuals behind the grassy knoll, where we know they were, I certainly would not tell you and couldn't here. There is no question about the fact they were there and there's no question about the motive.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: The whole thing became a huge media event. But by this time, Garrison had come up with a even grander conspiracy and that was that anyone that criticized his investigation or found it to be fraudulent was a part of an American government plot to discredit him. He basically elevated the idea of conspiracy not only to the case he was investigating, but to the treatment of it by the press.

Jim Garrison: Some of the most powerful news agencies we have in our country have worked hard to convince you that everything is all right ...

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: I think that Garrison had lost touch with reality.

Jim Garrison: Their game is to fool you. These people want the investigation stopped. They don't want a trial at all. Please believe me.

Mark Lane, Attorney: I wasn't surprised when there was an acquittal. Garrison then wanted to start indicting various people for perjury. He was full of spirit and fighting and everybody else was demoralized and I expected that was going to be the result.

Clay Shaw's entourage: Step aside, please!

Josiah Thompson, Investigator: I think the Garrison investigation was a disaster for research in the Kennedy assassination. So I turned away from it at that point. And I turned away largely because I thought that Garrison had spoiled the whole thing.

Walter Cronkite: Good evening. Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of non-violence in the Civil Rights Movement, has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee. Police have issued an all-points-bulletin for a well-dressed young white man seen running from the scene. Officers also reportedly chased and fired on a radio-equipped car containing two white men.

Tom Hayden: The impression is that we're facing power structures or conspiratorial cliques that apparently will stop at nothing. This became incorporated into a new understanding about how power works in America. We're not as democratic as we were taught. The model we're operating on needs to incorporate random events, assassinations, stolen elections. We are not different from other countries.

Robert Dallek, Historian: Robert Kennedy becomes the embodiment of the hopes which still attach to JFK. He's the great hope to end the Vietnam War in '68, to put across yet further advances for Civil Rights and for progressive legislation. So, in a sense Bobby Kennedy becomes emblematic of Camelot, of the hopes that are dashed by JFK's killing.

Crowd: Oh my God. Why? God, no! No! Get a doctor! Get a doctor! God, no! Get a doctor! Oh, no no no!

Senator Hart: After the second Kennedy assassination I probably just kind of gave up on government and politics. All of the hope of that period of '60 to '63 and then briefly for a few months or a few weeks in '68 resurrected were crushed.

Todd Gitlin, Student Activist: The assassination was truly devastating.

unknown: If there's a doctor in the house I want to see him right here.

Todd Gitlin, Student Activist: Bobby Kennedy, to me, I suppose, represented you know the possibility of a certain redemption. And then, you know, suddenly when he was gone, that's when, you know, some other people I knew became assassination buffs. You know, believing that well there was a method to the madness and it was decipherable if you simply did enough research and viewed the Zapruder film enough times.

Tom Hayden: These assassinations have always been underestimated in their effects on the movement and effects on individuals like ourselves. I think that the '60s has a logical narrative towards a progressive majority coming to power by 1968 ...

Martin Luther King: ... of the coming of the lord.

Bobby Kennedy: And now it's on to Chicago and let's win there.

Tom Hayden: ... interrupted three times by killings by unknown forces. The Chicago demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Convention have to be placed in that context.

Todd Gitlin, Student Activist: The assassinations, the whole wave, the whole arc of assassinations, had tipped us into the collision. You know, this is the last stand. This is the moment of truth. This is the colossal confrontation between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

Demonstrators: The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!

Todd Gitlin, Student Activist: The fact that Richard Nixon was going to inherit the wind just simply didn't feature in our, in our calculations.

Dan Rather, Reporter: When times are really difficult, when complexity increases, I think it is very natural that people go to conspiracy theories. And sometimes conspiracy theories turn out to be true. Sometimes they can be proven.

Senator Gary Hart, U.S. Senator: During the Nixon years, in response largely to Vietnam and social unrest, conservatives in the Nixon administration had begun to subvert the political process -- ironically enough wiretapping, mail-opening, surveillance both of Civil Rights activists and anti-war activists. Richard Nixon resigned in August of '74 and I was elected in November of '74. A Select Committee of the Senate was given a broad mandate to find out what abuses had occurred in the intelligence community during the '60s and early '70s. We discovered U.S. efforts to assassinate at least six foreign leaders, overthrow of certain governments, de-stabilization of other governments. And finally we got to Castro. It turned out that the CIA was using at least three major Mafia figures to assassinate Castro and there were at least half-a-dozen attempts if not more. The intensive period was '60, '61 and end of '62. Given the timing of this with the Kennedy assassination, you had to almost start over again and begin to examine motives.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: The Church Committee showed that if the CIA was involved in an assassination in the Congo or an assassination in Cuba and that the Mafia had been connected into assassinations plots with the CIA, who's to say that these sort of techniques were out of the question in Dallas?

Norman Mailer, Novelist: At the time I was very paranoid about the CIA, and not in a sense that the CIA is evil from top to bottom. But I knew enough about the CIA to know that there all sorts of wings and enclaves and cells in the CIA, as well as the bureaucratic overlay. And so I saw it as perfectly possible that people in the CIA had pulled it off.

Senator Gary Hart, U.S. Senator: We sent a researcher up to the Kennedy Library to try to figure out who John Kennedy was talking to during this period when these plots were being hatched and this researcher came back with 75 phone calls between the White House and a number in Los Angeles. And it turned out to be a young woman at the time, Judith Campbell, who was an aspiring starlet but had been introduced to John Kennedy by Frank Sinatra. And apparently, President Kennedy and Miss Campbell had developed a friendship to say the least. And the problem with that was that she also had developed a friendship with Sam Giancana who was one of the leading, if not the most important Mafia figure in America. Now the plot was terribly, terribly thick.

Reporter: Did you shoot the president?

Lee Harvey Oswald: No. They're taking me in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union. I'm just a patsy!

Norman Mailer, Novelist: When the Kennedy assassination took place, the CIA was in a state, and so was the Mafia 'cause how much was this guy Oswald with us? For 48 hours, 72 hours nobody knew. God knows what he would say at a public trial. So people began to ask had the Mafia ordered Ruby to kill Oswald?

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: I knew Jack Ruby very well and people that say, 'well, Ruby was part of a conspiracy,' remember that the word was that they were going move Oswald at about 10 o'clock, no earlier than that.

Reporter: Tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the morning, he's scheduled to be moved from here to the County Courthouse.

Hugh Aynesworth, Reporter: Ruby slept 'til probably 9:30 or 9:20 something of that sort, and then he drives with his dog down to the Western Union and sent a telegram at 11:17 that morning. Came out and he looked one block up and he saw the crowd there at the police department. Jack Ruby was always on the scene of action, whether it be a fire, whether it be a raid, whether it be a parade, whatever. He had to be there. And he knew some of those cops. The fact that he left the dog in the car indicates to me that he thought he was going down to send a telegram and go back home. He took that little dog everywhere with him.

Jack Ruby: The curiosity had aroused me because of the flash in my mind, seeing the people there before I went to the Western Union, as I drove by on Main Street. The ironic part of this is, had I made an illegal turn behind the bus to the parking lot, had I gone the way I was suppose to go, straight down Main Street, I would have never -- I would never have met this fate.

Tour guide: If you look at the picture real close there's not anybody but one officer that has even tuned his eyes in that direction yet, you know getting ready for what was going to happen so fast.

Robert Groden: Down here, the president's car and up here the smoke from the fatal shot drifting out from behind the corner of the stockade fence on the grassy knoll.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: There's of course the theory that the Mafia did it, the theory that the CIA did it, the theory that the anti-Castro Cubans did it. I think Oliver Stone does the best job if you want to see how many theories can be unified. Take a look at his movie.

Oliver Stone: Take one. A-mark. T-mark. Action! Go to the Cubans. Cubans!

Oliver Stone: What we are trying to do is take all of these facts that we now know and put them into one framework so that the audience can really for the first time, begin to get everything at one time as opposed to hearing a little bit here and a little bit there. And then all of the deniability sets in and, you know, it's hard to believe one thing here and one thing there. And we are trying to show a whole mosaic, all of the layers of things that happened. I'm not a documentarian. As a dramatist I am shaping four story ends. But in its essence I think that the story is true. It its essence, in its spirit. Kennedy was killed under highly suspicious circumstances that were never investigated at the time.

Oliver Stone: Plus the fact that they say that it exited here and hit Connally --

Robert Groden: -- Who was directly in front over here --

Oliver Stone: -- and had six more wounds and the bullet itself did not change impression --

Robert Groden: -- virtually pristine.

Oliver Stone: -- a pristine bullet. It is an amazing story.

Robert Groden: The only problem is that no one believes it anymore. Thanks to you.

Oliver Stone: That's not true. A lot of people still believe it.

Robert Groden: Well, they won't after this.

Mark Lane, Attorney: I never thought that I would be here and be able to say the overwhelming majority of the American people have concluded that I have been right all along, and that the Warren Commission and all of the members of the Senate and the House who served on the Warren Commission and the Chief Justice and Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, Reporter, all of those people, all of them, New York Times editorial writers, The Washington Post editorial writers, all of them are wrong.

Norman Mailer, Novelist: Like most conspiratorialists, I wanted it to be a conspiracy. But I kept trying to think of how a conspiracy could have put the thing together and I must say I failed notably. I couldn't figure it out. The internal evidence just wasn't there. There were too many odd moments that just didn't add up. Oswald is always seen as this illiterate who was sort of stupid and didn't have too much on the ball. And that was not Oswald's view of himself. His intelligence was there. He wasn't such a great intellectual but he was a fairly good one and for an uneducated intellectual he was damn bright. I've heard him on radio shows and there he handled himself very well.

Lee Harvey Oswald: Several American parties and several countries are based on Marxism, such as Guyana, Ghana, certain countries have characteristics of socialist systems such as Great Britain with its socialized medicine. These then are the differences between an outright Communist country and countries which adhere to leftist or Marxist principals.

Normal Mailer, Novelist: He was fascinated with Adolph Hitler. Not because he believed in any of Hitler's ideas, but Hitler showed him, in his mind, that you can start way at the bottom of society, unemployed, virtually helpless, in no place at all, and you can rise to be a very, very powerful man.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Historian: Oswald had already done some difficult things. He had gotten into the Marine Corps and gotten out of the Marine Corps falsely on a hardship discharge. He'd gone by himself to the Soviet Union. He had gotten the Russians to accept him as a defector. And then when he decided that he wanted to go back to the United States he managed to take a wife with him. He'd done very difficult things in his life and he'd done them alone. Anybody who thinks that he wasn't capable of planning something and carrying it off alone is wrong. Even wronger would be to think that somebody else could get him to do anything they wanted him to do. He didn't do anything with anybody.

Edward Jay Epstein, Journalist: What diminishes the idea of a conspiracy, in my mind, is not that one can't think of a good reason why one couldn't put a conspiracy together. But it's the passage of time. One has to take that into their reckoning. As we covered, you know, decade after decade, not a shred has come out that would indicate what this conspiracy was. After 40 years none of the theories pan out.

Todd Gitlin, Student Activist: You know, Americans are prone to paranoid thinking. The belief that there must be a story that can be told that explains how awful things happen is a, you know, is a potent one. The belief that tiny cabals of people are actually pulling the strings runs back into the Book of Revelations. So the sign of 666, the Beast is the CIA, is you know, whoever, choose one or choose several and kaleidoscopically maneuver the actors to make it all seem to make sense. These superstitions imply that what most people do and think is irrelevant, that somewhere there is a bunch of people in a room somewhere who will actually make things happen.

Norman Mailer, Novelist: The more I studied him, the more I came to know him, Oswald's character became more and more defined for me. He had a great many political ideas and he wrote long passages about the ways in which society should be designed. He was a futurist and a utopian to a degree. I think what he believed was that the route to power was not closed as far as he was concerned. So that by himself, whether he was talking to conspirators or not, Oswald came to the conclusion that he could bring this off. That he could commit this crime. That he could yet be a very, very powerful man. And that was worth it 'cause he was leading a miserable life.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Historian: As Marina explained when I was interviewing her for the book, several months before the assassination, Lee came in sort of a wild-eyed and sweaty and he said, "I shot Walker!" Edwin A. Walker was a well-known right-winger and he lived in Dallas.

General Edwin Walker: Well, the police from the city came in to investigate a rifle shot that was fired into the house, fired through the West window.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Historian: The failure to hit Walker, very close failure though it was, is the Rosetta Stone of the Kennedy assassination. It showed that Lee really wanted to kill someone. Oswald found out on Tuesday, when I believe there was a big story in the Dallas morning newspapers, that Kennedy's route would go past the building in which he worked. And in the morning he woke her up, kissed her, and said he was leaving money for her on the bureau and then he went off with something in a bundle. Late in the afternoon of the 22nd she looked at the bureau where Lee had left her his money, which was $70, but she looked inside of an old cup and inside was his wedding ring.

Norman Mailer, Novelist: Marina for years has been haunted by the fact that was she to some degree responsible. But I think what Oswald saw was that if he committed the crime, if he assassinated Kennedy and he got away with it, then he would have an inner power that no-one could ever come near. And, if he was caught, well then he was quite articulate, he would have one of the greatest trials in America's history, if not the greatest and he would explain all of his political ideas. And he would become world famous and might have an immense effect upon history even if he was executed. So there he was, he knew that he had this opportunity, that Kennedy was going to drive by the Texas Book Depository. One can only imagine the terror, and the excitement, and the inspiration, and the woe that sat on him with the knowledge that he could do it, that it was possible to do it. That there were conspiracies being contemplated, attempted, even attempted on that day, I am perfectly willing to accept. But the conclusions I came to were for me rational ones, because he had a motive for doing it, because he was capable of doing it, because he wanted to do it. When he shot Tippit, I think at that point he knew he was doomed because he could no longer make the great speech. If you shoot a policeman forget it, you're a punk. And so after he was caught he did nothing but protest his innocence and say, "I'm a patsy." Oswald is a ghost who sits upon American life, the ghost that lay over a great many discussions of what are some of real the roots of American history. What's abominable and maddening about ghosts is you never know the answer. Is it this, or is it that? You can't know, 'cause a ghost doesn't tell you.

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