A magisterial assessment of how the Warren Commission's investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy stands up after the passage of 50 years.
In 1963, Willens, now a lawyer in private practice, was appointed to the commission. Here, the author uses his journal and notes from the commission's nine months of work as an unmatched framework for telling the story of JFK's assassination and the subsequent investigation. During the five decades since the event, no firsthand evidence has been brought forward to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the assassin, nor that other shots were implicated in the crime. Therefore, none of the many conspiracy theories hold up. Evidence withheld by Richard Helms, director of the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover, chief of the FBI, does not change this foundation in fact. Willens outlines the procedures adopted by the commission and how the staff was deployed. In order to establish how well the commission's work has stood the test of time, he reassesses the evidence assembled in light of the internal discussions within the commission and its staff, as well as among commission members and other government agencies. Formed shortly after the shooting on the initiative of President Lyndon Johnson, the commission moved rapidly to establish its own area of competence against the FBI, especially in the area of the shooter and the shooting. Willens reconstructs the investigators' work and describes how the final report was assembled, one chapter at a time, in response to questioning. Despite the countless conspiracy theories, Chief Justice Earl Warren was right to trust to history for vindication.
A superbly written account by someone who knows precisely what needs to be said and how to say it.