This Commission was
created to ascertain the facts relating to the preceding summary of events and to consider the important questions which they
raised. The Commission has addressed itself to this task and has reached certain conclusions based on all the available evidence.
No limitations have been placed on the Commission's inquiry; it has conducted its own investigation, and all Government agencies
have fully discharged their responsibility to cooperate with the Commission in its investigation. These conclusions represent
the reasoned judgment of all members of the Commission and are presented after an investigation which has satisfied the Commission
that it: has ascertained the truth concerning the assassination of President Kennedy to the extent that a prolonged and thorough
search makes this possible.
1. The shots which killed
President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas
School Book Depository. This determination is based upon the following:
o (a) Witnesses at the scene of the assassination saw a rifle being
fired from the sixth floor window of the Depository Building, and some witnesses saw a rifle in the window immediately after
the shots were fired.
o (b) The nearly whole bullet found on Governor Connally's stretcher
at Parkland Memorial Hospital and the two bullet fragments found in the front seat of the Presidential limousine were fired
from the 6.5- millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found on the sixth floor of the Depository Building to the exclusion of
all other weapons.
o (c) The three used cartridge cases found near the window on the
sixth floor at the southeast corner of the building were fired from the same rifle which fired the above-described bullet
and fragments, to the exclusion of all other weapons.
o (d) The windshield in the Presidential limousine was struck by a
bullet fragment on the inside surface of the glass, but was not penetrated.
o (e) The nature of the bullet wounds suffered by President Kennedy
and Governor Connally and the location of the car at the time of the shots establish that the bullets were fired from above
and behind the Presidential limousine, striking the President and the Governor as follows:
1. President Kennedy
was first struck by a bullet which entered at the back of his neck and exited through the lower front portion of his neck,
causing a wound which would not necessarily have been lethal. The President was struck a second time by a bullet which entered
the right-rear portion of his head, causing a massive and fatal wound.
2. Governor Connally
was struck by a bullet which entered on the right side of his back and traveled downward through the right side of his chest,
exiting below his right nipple. This bullet then passed through his right wrist and entered his left thigh where it caused
a superficial wound.
o (f)There is no credible evidence that the shots were fired from
the Triple Underpass, ahead of the motorcade, or from any other location.
3. The weight of the
evidence indicates that there were three shots fired.
4. Although it is not
necessary to any essential findings of the Commission to determine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive
evidence from the experts to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President's throat also caused Governor Connally's
wounds. However, Governor Connally's testimony and certain other factors have given rise to some difference of opinion as
to this probability but there is no question in the mind of any member of the Commission that all the shots which caused the
President's and Governor Connally's wounds were fired from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.
5. The shots which killed
President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. This conclusion is based upon the following:
o (a)The Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter Italian rifle from which
the shots were fired was owned by and in the possession of Oswald.
o (b)Oswald carried this rifle into the Depository Building on the
morning of November 22, 1963.
o (c)Oswald, at the time of the assassination, was present at the
window from which the shots were fired.
o (d)Shortly after the assassination, the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle
belonging to Oswald was found partially hidden between some cartons on the sixth floor and the improvised paper bag in which
Oswald brought the rifle to the Depository was found dose by the window from which the shots were fired.
o (e)Based on testimony of the experts and their analysis of films
of the assassination, the Commission has concluded that a rifleman of Lee Harvey Oswald's capabilities could have fired the
shots from the rifle used in the assassination within the elapsed time of the shooting. The Commission has concluded further
that Oswald possessed the capability with a rifle which enabled him to commit the assassination.
o (f)Oswald lied to the police after his arrest concerning important
o (g)Oswald had attempted to kill Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker (Retired,
U.S. Army) on April 10, 1963, thereby demonstrating his disposition to take human life.
6. Oswald killed Dallas
Police Patrolman J. D. Tippit approximately 45 minutes after the assassination. This conclusion upholds the finding that Oswald
fired the shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally and is supported by the following:
o (a) Two eyewitnesses saw the Tippit shooting and seven eyewitnesses
heard the shots and saw the gunman leave the scene with revolver in hand. These nine eyewitnesses positively identified Lee
Harvey Oswald as the man they saw.
o (b) The cartridge cases found at the scene of the shooting were
fired from the revolver in the possession of Oswald at the time of his arrest to the exclusion of all other weapons.
o (c) The revolver in Oswald's possession at the time of his arrest
was purchased by and belonged to Oswald.
o (d) Oswald's jacket was found along the path of flight taken by
the gunman as he fled from the scene of the killing.
7. Within 80 minutes
of the assassination and 35 minutes of the Tippit killing Oswald resisted arrest at the theatre by attempting to shoot another
Dallas police officer.
8. The Commission has
reached the following conclusions concerning Oswald's interrogation and detention by the Dallas police:
o (a) Except for the force required to effect his arrest, Oswald was
not subjected to any physical coercion by any law enforcement officials. He was advised that he could not be compelled to
give any information and that any statements made by him might be used against him in court. He was advised of his right to
counsel. He was given the opportunity to obtain counsel of his own choice and was offered legal assistance by the Dallas Bar
Association, which he rejected at that time.
o (b) Newspaper, radio, and television reporters were allowed uninhibited
access to the area through which Oswald had to pass when he was moved from his cell to the interrogation room and other sections
of the building, thereby subjecting Oswald to harassment and creating chaotic conditions which were not conducive to orderly
interrogation or the protection of the rights of the prisoner.
o (c) The numerous statements, sometimes erroneous, made to the press
by various local law enforcement officials, during this period of confusion and disorder in the police station, would have
presented serious obstacles to the obtaining of a fair trial for Oswald. To the extent that the information was erroneous
or misleading, it helped to create doubts, speculations, and fears in the mind of the public which might otherwise not have
8. The Commission has
reached the following conclusions concerning the killing of Oswald by Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963:
o (a) Ruby entered the basement of the Dallas Police Department shortly
after 11:17 a.m. and killed Lee Harvey Oswald at 11:21 a.m.
o (b) Although the evidence on Ruby's means of entry is not conclusive,
the weight of the evidence indicates that he walked down the ramp leading from Main Street to the basement of the police department.
o (c) There is no evidence to support the rumor that Ruby may have
been assisted by any members of the Dallas Police Department in the killing of Oswald.
o (d) The Dallas Police Department's decision to transfer Oswald to
the county jail in full public view was unsound. The arrangements made by the police department on Sunday morning, only a
few hours before the attempted transfer, were inadequate. Of critical importance was the fact that news media representatives
and others were not excluded from the basement even after the police were notified of threats to Oswald's life. These deficiencies
contributed to the death of Lee Harvey Oswald.
9. The Commission has
found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate
President Kennedy. The reasons for this conclusion are:
o (a) The Commission has found no evidence that anyone assisted Oswald
in planning or carrying out the assassination. In this connection it has thoroughly investigated, among other factors, the
circumstances surrounding the planning of the motorcade route through Dallas, the hiring of Oswald by the Texas School Book
Depository Co. on October 15, 1963, the method by which the rifle was brought into the building, the placing of cartons of
books at the window, Oswald's escape from the building, and the testimony of eyewitnesses to the shooting.
o (b) The Commission has found no evidence that Oswald was involved
with any person or group in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, although it has thoroughly investigated, in addition
to other possible leads, all facets of Oswald's associations, finances, and personal habits, particularly during the period
following his return from the Soviet Union in June 1962.
o (c) The Commission has found no evidence to show that Oswald was
employed, persuaded, or encouraged by any foreign government to assassinate President Kennedy or that he was an agent of any
foreign government, although the Commission has reviewed the circumstances surrounding Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union,
his life there from October of 1959 to June of 1962 so far as it can be reconstructed, his known contacts with the Fair Play
for Cuba Committee and his visits to the Cuban and Soviet Embassies in Mexico City during his trip to Mexico from
September 26 to October 3, 1963, and his known contacts with the Soviet Embassy in the United States.
o (d) The Commission has explored all attempts of Oswald to identify
himself with various political groups, including the Communist Party, U.S.A., the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and the Socialist
Workers Party, and has been unable to find any evidence that the contacts which he initiated were related to Oswald's subsequent
assassination of the President.
o (e) All of the evidence before the Commission established that there
was nothing to support the speculation that Oswald was an agent, employee, or informant of the FBI, the CIA, or any other
governmental agency. It has thoroughly investigated Oswald's relationships prior to the assassination with all agencies of
the U.S. Government. All contacts with Oswald by any of these agencies were made in the regular exercise of their different
o (f) No direct or indirect relationship between Lee Harvey Oswald
and Jack Ruby has been discovered by the Commission, nor has it been able to find any credible evidence that either knew the
other, although a thorough investigation was made of the many rumors and speculations of such a relationship.
o (g) The Commission has found no evidence that Jack Ruby acted with
any other person in the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald.
o (h) After careful investigation the Commission has found no credible
evidence either that Ruby and Officer Tippit, who was killed by Oswald, knew each other or that Oswald and Tippit knew each
Because of the difficulty of proving negatives to a certainty the possibility of others being involved with either
Oswald or Ruby cannot be established categorically, but if there is any such evidence it has been beyond the reach of all
the investigative agencies and resources of the United States and has not come to the attention of this Commission.
11. In its entire investigation the Commission
has found no evidence of conspiracy, subversion, or disloyalty to the U.S. Government by any Federal, State, or local official.
12. On the basis of the evidence
before the Commission it concludes that Oswald acted alone. Therefore, to determine the motives for the assassination of President
Kennedy, one must look to the assassin himself. Clues to Oswald's motives can be found in his family history, his education
or lack of it, his acts, his writings, and the recollections of those who had close contacts with him throughout his life.
The Commission has presented with this report all of the background information bearing on motivation which it could discover.
Thus, others may study Lee Oswald's life and arrive at their own conclusions as to his possible motives.
could not make any definitive determination of Oswald's motives. It has endeavored to isolate factors which contributed
to his character and which might have influenced his decision to assassinate President Kennedy. These factors were:
o (a) His deep-rooted resentment of all authority which was expressed
in a hostility toward every society in which he lived;
o (b) His inability to enter into meaningful relationships with people,
and a continuous pattern of rejecting his environment favor of new surrounding;
o (c) His urge to try to find a place in history and despair at times
over failures in his various undertakings;
o (d) His capacity for violence as evidenced by his attempt to kill
o (e) His avowed commitment to Marxism and communism, as he understood
the terms and developed his own interpretation of them; this was expressed by his antagonism toward the United States, by
his defection to the Soviet Union, by his failure to be reconciled with life in the United States even after his disenchantment
with the Soviet Union, and by his efforts, though frustrated, to go to Cuba.
Each of these contributed to his capacity
to risk all in cruel and irresponsible actions.
13. The Commission recognizes that the varied
responsibilities of the President require that he make frequent trips to all parts of the United States and abroad. Consistent
with their high responsibilities Presidents can never be protected from every potential threat. The Secret Service's difficulty
in meeting its protective responsibility varies with the activities and the nature of the occupant of the Office of President
and his willingness to conform to plans for his safety. In appraising the performance of the Secret Service it should be understood
that it has to do its work within such limitations. Nevertheless, the Commission believes that recommendations for improvements
in Presidential protection are compelled by the facts disclosed in this investigation.
o (a) The complexities of the Presidency have increased so rapidly
in recent years that the Secret Service has not been able to develop or to secure adequate resources of personnel and facilities
to fulfill its important assignment. This situation should be promptly remedied.
o (b) The Commission has concluded that the criteria and procedures
of the Secret Service designed to identify and protect against persons considered threats to the president, were not adequate
prior to the assassination.
1. The Protective Research
Section of the Secret Service, which is responsible for its preventive work, lacked sufficient trained personnel and the mechanical
and technical assistance needed to fulfill its responsibility.
2. Prior to the assassination
the Secret Service's criteria dealt with direct threats against the President. Although the Secret Service treated the direct
threats against the President adequately, it failed to recognize the necessity of identifying
other potential sources of danger to his security. The Secret Service did not develop adequate and specific criteria
defining those persons or groups who might present a danger to the President. In effect, the Secret Service largely relied
upon other Federal or State agencies to supply the information necessary for it to fulfill its preventive responsibilities,
although it did ask for information about direct threats to the President.
o (c) The Commission has concluded that there was insufficient liaison
and coordination of information between the Secret Service and other Federal agencies necessarily concerned with Presidential
protection. Although the FBI, in the normal exercise of its responsibility, had secured considerable information about Lee
Harvey Oswald, it had no official responsibility, under the Secret Service criteria existing at the time of the President's
trip to Dallas, to refer to the Secret Service the information it had about Oswald. The Commission has concluded, however,
that the FBI took an unduly restrictive view of its role in preventive intelligence work prior to the assassination. A more
carefully coordinated treatment of the Oswald case by the FBI might well have resulted in bringing Oswald's activities to
the attention of the Secret Service.
o (d) The Commission has concluded that some of the advance preparations
in Dallas made by the Secret Service, such as the detailed security measures taken at Love Field and the Trade Mart, were
thorough and well executed. In other respects, however, the Commission has concluded that the advance preparations for the
President's trip were deficient.
Although the Secret Service is compelled to rely to a great
extent on local law enforcement officials, its procedures at the time of the Dallas trip did not call for well-defined instructions
as to the respective responsibilities of the police officials and others assisting in the protection of the President.
The procedures relied upon by the Secret Service for detecting
the presence of an assassin located in a building along a motorcade route were inadequate. At the time of the trip to Dallas,
the Secret Service as a matter of practice did not investigate, or cause to be checked, any building located along the motorcade
route to be taken by the President. The responsibility for observing windows in these buildings during the motorcade was divided
between local police personnel stationed on the streets to regulate crowds and Secret Service agents riding in the motorcade.
Based on its investigation the Commission has concluded that these arrangements during the trip to Dallas were clearly not
o (e) The configuration of the Presidential car and the seating arrangements
of the Secret Service agents in the car did not afford
the Secret Service agents the opportunity they should have had to be of immediate assistance to the President at the
first sign of danger.
o (f) Within these limitations, however, the Commission finds that
the agents most immediately responsible for the President's safety reacted promptly at the time the shots were fired from
the Texas School Book Depository Building.
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Prompted by the assassination of
President Kennedy, the Secret Service has initiated a comprehensive and critical review of its total operations. As a result
of studies conducted during the past several months, and in cooperation with this Commission, the Secret Service has prepared
a planning document dated August 27, 1964, which recommends various programs considered necessary by the Service to improve
its techniques and enlarge its resources. The Commission is encouraged by the efforts taken by the Secret Service since the
assassination and suggests the following recommendations.
1. A committee of Cabinet
members including the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General, or the National Security Council, should be assigned
the responsibility of reviewing and overseeing the protective activities of the Secret Service and the other Federal agencies
that assist in safeguarding the President. Once given this responsibility, such a committee would insure that the maximum
resources of the Federal Government are fully engaged in the task of protecting the President, and would provide guidance
in defining the general nature of domestic and foreign dangers to Presidential security.
2. Suggestions have been
advanced to the Commission for the transfer of all or parts of the Presidential protective responsibilities of the Secret
Service to some other department or agency. The Commission believes that if there is to be any determination of whether or
not to relocate these responsibilities and functions, it ought to be made by the Executive and the Congress, perhaps upon
recommendations based on studies by the previously suggested committee.
3. Meanwhile, in order
to improve daily supervision of the Secret Service within the Department of the Treasury, the Commission recommends that the
Secretary of the Treasury appoint a special assistant with the responsibility of supervising the Secret Service. This special
assistant should have sufficient stature and experience in law enforcement, intelligence, and allied fields to provide effective
continuing supervision, and to keep the Secretary fully informed regarding the performance of the Secret Service. One of the
initial assignments of this special assistant should be the supervision of the current effort by the Secret Service to revise
and modernize its basic operating procedures.
4. The Commission recommends
that the Secret Service completely overhaul its facilities devoted to the advance detection of potential threats against the
President. The Commission suggests the following measures.
o (a) The Secret Service should develop as quickly as possible more
useful and precise criteria defining those potential threats to the President which should be brought to its attention by
other agencies. The criteria should, among other additions, provide for prompt notice to the Secret Service of all returned
o (b) The Secret Service should expedite its current plans to utilize
the most efficient data-processing techniques.
o (c) Once the Secret Service has formulated new criteria delineating
the information it desires, it should enter into agreements with each Federal agency to insure its receipt of such information.
5. The Commission recommends
that the Secret Service improve the protective measures followed in the planning, and conducting of Presidential motorcades.
In particular" the Secret Service should continue its current efforts to increase the precautionary attention given to buildings
along the motorcade route.
6. The Commission recommends
that the Secret Service continue its recent efforts to improve and formalize its relationships with local police departments
in areas to be visited by the President.
7. The Commission believes
that when the new criteria and procedures are established, the Secret Service will not have sufficient personnel or adequate
facilities. The Commission recommends that the Secret Service be provided with the personnel and resources which the Service
and the Department of the Treasury may be able to demonstrate are needed to fulfill its important mission.
8. Even with an increase
in Secret Service personnel, the protection of the President will continue to require the resources and cooperation of many
Federal agencies. The Commission recommends that these agencies, specifically the FBI, continue the practice as it has developed,
particularly since the assassination, of assisting the Secret Service upon request by providing personnel or other aid, and
that there be a closer association and liaison between the Secret Service and all Federal agencies.
9. The Commission recommends
that the President's physician always accompany him during his travels and occupy a position near the President where he can
be immediately available in case of any emergency.
10. The Commission recommends to Congress that
it adopt legislation which would make the assassination of the President and Vice President a Federal crime. A state of affairs
where U.S. authorities have no clearly defined jurisdiction to investigate the assassination of a President is anomalous.
11. The Commission has examined the Department
of State's handling of the Oswald matters and finds that it followed the law
12. throughout. However, the Commission believes
that the Department in accordance with its own regulations should in all cases exercise great care in the return to this country
of defectors who have evidenced disloyalty or hostility to this country or who have expressed a desire to renounce their American
citizenship and that when such persons are so returned, procedures should be adopted for the better dissemination of information
concerning them to the intelligence agencies of the Government.
13. The Commission recommends that the representatives
of the bar, law enforcement associations, and the news media work together to establish ethical standards concerning the collection
and presentation of information to the public so that there will be no interference with pending criminal investigations,
court proceedings, or the right of individuals to a fair trial.
Bibliographic note: Web version based on Report of the
President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Washington, DC: United States Government Printing
Office, 1964. 1 volume, 888 pages. The formatting of this Web version may differ from the original.
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