LET JUSTICE BE DONE

WILLIAM DAVY

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By now the story is all too familiar. November 22, 1963. Dallas, Texas. President Kennedy is assassinated while riding in an open limousine. Within a few hours, Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested after sneaking into a local movie theater. Oswald is first booked for the murder of a local police officer, J.D. Tippitt and is later charged with the murder of the President. On November 24th as Oswald is being transferred from the local jail Jack Ruby, patriotic night club owner and fellow lone nut, shoots him. The following day, President Kennedy's funeral is held with all of the requisite ornaments.

Within days, a Presidential commission is formed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder of the President. Headed by widely respected Chief Justice Earl Warren it comes to be known as the Warren Commission. In 1964, the Commission issues their report and 26 volumes of supporting evidence. Its conclusion, that Oswald a lonely, disgruntled ex-Marine whose obsession with communism caused him to defect to the Soviet Union, and later kill the President with three shots from a war surplus rifle, was widely accepted at face value by the American people and trumpeted loudly by the mainstream media. Likewise, the Commission's conclusion that Ruby was yet another loner who killed Oswald during a fit of patriotism found its way into mainstream consciousness as well.

Then something happened. People began to analyze the 26 volumes that purportedly was the evidentiary basis of the Report and discovered that much of the evidence either didn't support the Commission's conclusions or was just completely irrelevant. In the mid-1960's several scholarly books were released challenging the central tenets of the Warren doctrine. Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment, Harold Weisberg's Whitewash, Sylvia Meagher's Accessories After the Fact, and Josiah Thompson's Six Seconds in Dallas all raised reasonable doubts and started a groundswell of criticism of the Warren Report. Even mainstream magazines such as Life, Look, and The Saturday Evening Post were all taking a new look at the assassination.

Then something happened - again. A District Attorney from New Orleans had the temerity to launch his own probe into the assassination. In 1966 Jim Garrison, the wildly popular New Orleans D.A., began investigating Oswald's stay in the Crescent City during the summer of 1963. As his office began questioning various witnesses Garrison began to focus his probe on a suspect he believed may have conspired to have the President killed. David Ferrie was an ex-airline pilot and anti-Castro adventurer who Garrison believed had a long history with the CIA as well as with the accused assassin. Soon however, the story broke in the newspapers and Garrison's probe became worldwide news. Unfortunately for Ferrie, so did he. Less than a week after the story broke, Ferrie was found dead in his apartment, apparently of natural causes. With his main suspect now dead many felt Garrison would wind up his investigation. They were wrong. On March 1, 1967 Garrison arrested a local businessman named Clay Shaw and charged him with conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Shaw, a respected figure among the New Orleans elite, expressed shock and outrage at the charge. For the next two years as Garrison sought to get Shaw to trial both Garrison and his office came under intense attack from the local and national media. Allegations of bribery, mob influence and other unsavory charges haunted the investigation. In 1969 Shaw was tried and acquitted on the conspiracy charge. The prevailing orthodoxy was that the Garrison probe seriously discredited and set back the Warren critics' movement...

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