A year had passed since the publication
of the Warren Report and most, if not all, of the analysis
of it to date fell into two schools: blind faith or
demonology. The blind-faithers reasoned that because
the members of the Warren Commission were men of unquestionable
integrity, they would not conceal evidence of a conspiracy.
Therefore, there was no conspiracy. The demonologists,
on the other hand, believed because evidence of a conspiracy
had not been dispelled, the Warren Commission must have
been part of the cover up. Both schools made the common
assumption that the Warren Commission had indeed investigated
discovered the relevant facts. But after now interviewing
half the Commissioners and key staff lawyers, I was
beginning to realize that there was another possibility:
the Warren Commissioners, though honest, had not had
the time or investigative resources to resolve the issue
of whether or not Oswald had acted alone. It turned
out that their exhaustive investigation was only ninety
days before they called to write the report, and, during
this period, and, under this time pressure, their staff
had complained of arbitrariness, deadlines, administrative
chaos, bureaucratic infighting, and constant pressure
"to close doors rather than open doors them." Allan
Dulles, though in seventies, had attended more meeting
than any other Commissioners and he also had the intelligence
background to understand investigative limits.
After receiving his law degree in
1926, he served briefly as counselor to the U.S. delegation
in Peking and then joined the New York law firm of Sullivan
and Cromwell, of which his brother, John Foster Dulles,
was a partner. When the United States entered World
War II, Dulles was recruited by Colonel William J. Donovan
for the Office of Strategic Services and played a notable
role in the events that led to the surrender of German
troops in northern Italy. In 1948 Dulles was made chairman
of a three-man committee charged with surveying the
U.S. intelligence system. After the CIA was established
in 1951, he served as deputy director under General
Walter Bedell Smith, and in 1953 he was appointed director
by President Dwight D. Eisenhower but fired by President
John F. Kennedy after the failure of the Bay of Pigs
invasion of Cuba in April 1961.
He invited me to his Georgetown
home on Q Street. He looked more like a Mr. Chips headmaster
at a preppy school than a retired Director of Central
Intelligence. While his wife Clover served us a leisurely
tea, he reminisced how the Commission's inquiry differed
from those he had conducted at the CIA.
The questions proceeded along the
Q. How did you get involved with
the Warren Commission?
A. The President called me--I had
no advance notice--the Saturday after Thanksgiving (1963)
Q. When was the first meeting?
A. December 7th. It was an organizational
meeting. Warren had a choice for General Counsel, but
he was rejected--I can't discuss the reasons--nd we
agreed on Rankin.
Q. What were the early decisions
the Commission made?
A. First, we unanimously and immediately
decided that we could not rely solely on FBI or any
one agency. Secondly, we decided to use independent
lawyers, but not independent investigators. We were
to borrow investigators from individual agencies.
Q. Why didn't you use independent
A. We did in case of fingerprint
experts to double-check on FBI. We relied primarily
on the best trained men.
Q. How long. based on your experience,
did you think the investigation would last?
A. I expected it to last at least
six months, and most probably longer.
Q. Why was it considerably shorter
in fact? The Investigation was March 15-June 15.
A. There wasn't as many witnesses
as I expected and the witnesses were far more cooperatives
than I expected. There were surprisingly few witnesses
Q. What were the problems That arose
before the Hearings began in February.
A. They were mainly procedural problems.
The treatment of evidence, lawyers for witnesses, open
or closed hearings. In short, the legal aspects of our
Q. What about the calling of witnesses?
A. Yes. That was another problem.
From the FBI Reports, we drew a list of witnesses. Also,
the members decided that they wanted to hear Marina
first. Then Oswald's other relatives. By the end of
December, we had decided on the witnesses we considered
most important, and wanted to hear.
Q. Did you worry about Commission
A. No. The only precedent I can
think of it the Roberts Commission, although the President's
Committee on Stolen Art did a similar job. We really
didn't have any close precedent.
Q. Did members have any problem
in getting going?
A. No. We all had a great deal of
experience in these problems. Russell runs Committees,
so do Boggs, Ford, Cooper, McCloy and I know these type
problems, we knew we needed a Counsel(an executive director),
a staff, and cooperation with other agencies.
Q. Did it go smoothly?
A. It went more smoothly than I
expected. The witnesses cooperated more fully. No problems
Q. What about the Selection of Staff?
A. We gave Mr. Rankin a free hand
in selecting the staff. We accepted his judgement. It
was out decision to use independent non-government lawyers
Q. Why non-government lawyers?
A. We already had 3 from Dept of
Justice, we wanted outside lawyers so it wouldn't look
like a government report.
Q. At the Jan 22nd meeting, was
there a problem of Oswald and the FBI?
A. This was the most serious problem
we faced. An emergency meeting was called, up until
this time we had discussed only organizational matters.
Rankin reported accusations that
Oswald was a paid FBI informer. I knew it was bunk from
the start but we'd have a hard time proving it. There
was less fuss then we all expected about it. it was
very damaging, if true, and concerned our security.
Q. How did you know it was untrue?
A. I know J. Edgar Hoover and I
know that he would never employ anyone like Oswald.
He was too unstable.
Q. How did you disprove this accusations
of a FBI connection?
A. We traced rumor to Lonny Hudkins,
a reporter, and he admitted it was bunk.
Q. You didn't speak to Mr. Hudkins
A. No. Rankin sent down a representative,
and Hudkins told him there was no basis to the story.
Q. At your Colloquium, you precluded
the possibility that "Oswald was a tool of anyone."
How did you know?
A. He was "too unstable" to be employed
as a spy.
Q. Why was Colloquium kept secret?
A. The psychiatrists wanted it that
Q. What was the main result of Colloquium?
A. We decided we couldn't use psychiatric
terms to describe Oswald, or other witnesses.
Q. On Oswald & FBI-Isn~t it difficult
to prove someone e is not an agent?
A. Very difficult. Informers are
not employees and sometime records are not kept.
Q. Was Ford's book accurate?
A. Yes. I think so.
Q. Was a transcript kept of that
A. Yes. I remember notes of that
Q. Did you have any areas of special
A. Yes, I was interested in foreign
conspiracies, especially those done by governments.
I wanted to exhausts these possibility.
When we exhausted this possibility--for
e.g. we checked Ruby's money for serial numbers against
lists of communist money-- I felt we exhausted rumors
that were explorable, that we could get our teeth into.
I felt I served a purpose.
Q. Did you think the investigation
concerning National Security mattered?
A. Any government investigation
concerns national security."
Q. Was the dispelling of rumors
of paramount importance?
A. Rumors were a definite concern.
They injured, the national security, and caused unrest
in foreign governments.
Q. Did Foreign Governments believe
A. They believe what they want to
believe. Many governments were concerned with the results
we would reach. When, in May, we staged a second reconstruction
test, there were a great deal of inquiries and concern.
If we found a conspiracy, it could affect foreign policy,
of course,we didn't find a conspiracy.
Q. Were rumors important in the
conducting of the investigation?
A. We decided not to answer rumors,
piecemeal, and therefore we were concerned with finishing
the Report as soon as possible. McCloy felt rumors were
hurting American prestige abroad, and I agreed. We wanted
therefore to finish up as soon as possible.
Q. Did rumors cause specific problems?
A. Yes. They wasted a great deal
of our time and energy. We decided to refute and dispel
all rumors as far as possible. Some were not possible
because, we couldn't get out teeth into them. We asked
Mark Lane to testify, and then asked our staff to answer
every one of his charges. I think they did,, but they
Q. What did you conceive was goal
A. Dispelling rumors that are damaging
and preventing others that would be damaging. A plethora
of rumors would be damaging to National Security.
Q. Do you think there was too much
separation between staff& Commission?
A. No. In government. operations,
it is usual to pass information upwards. There were
also informal lunches, etc.
Q. Why was Willens disciplined for
A. I Don't remember. But we didn't
want fragmentary evidence, we wanted it presented as
a whole with corroboration. That was staff's job.
Q. Was your Report substantially
different from the 5 volume FBI Report?
A. No. The facts were the same.
We developed Oswald's background, motives, and exhausted
rumors of conspiracy. We looked into negatives, and
they proved negative.
Q. Why was the FBI Report made?
A. They had a Presidential mandate.
It was extremely accurate and there were no differences.
Q. Did it Preempt Commission work.
A. No.On the contrary, it gave us
a point of departure.
Q. Did the FBI do a good job in
A. Very good.
Q. Did the CIA make summary report?
A. No. My old agency only concerned
with specific requests. It did a foreign check on DeMohrenshield,
But main burden was done FBI.
Q. Do you think the ad hoc nature
of Warren Commission interfered with other agencies?
A. No. We were all government men,
we knew how to work with other agencies.
Q. How did you feel about Connally
bullet. The so-called single bullet theory?
A. Connally was adamant, and so
was Russell. We thus could not agree. I thought one
bullet did hit both men. There was no definite evidence
but I thought ballistics was strongly indicative. Others
Q. How did you decide when to end
A. First of all, rumors were disturbing,
and there was tremendous pressure to get the Report
out. Secondly, lawyers wanted to get back to their practice.
Thirdly, Commissions had other things to do. Finally,
there was little probability that further investigation
would produce different conclusions.
Q. In your business, is an investigation
A. We sometimes exhaust all the
probabilities of developing reliable new information,
diminishing returns set-in, and, investigations must
Q.Who wrote the Report?
A. Rankin wrote first draft. Commissions
Q. What of Oswald's motives?
A. Very difficult and complex question.
We simply Indicated factors.
Q. Did time pressure influence Report?
A. No. We had ample time.
Q. At CIA, would investigation be
A. Our purpose was to inform public
and dispel rumors. This is not the purpose of CIA analysis.
In CIA, we usually have greater problem with verification.
In Warren Commission, most witnesses were ordinary people.
Q. Did investigation influence other
agencies? Shake them up?
A. I don't think so. We found coordination
better than I expected.
Q. Would FBI Investigation have
came to same conclusions?
A. Yes. On the substantiative questions.
Q. How was the Press on issue?
A. Newspapers tend to fill gaps
The interview lasted two hours.
Dulles did not seem to have much to do, so we chatted
for a while about Cornell and then Russia. He said that
he still was not satisfied that the Russian government
had provided the Commission with all the dirt they had
on Oswald. He added cryptically that there was one defector
who might have helped-- but he was unavailable. He said
his identity was still a state secret.