President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, commonly called the Warren Commission, by Executive Order (E.O. 11130) on November 29, 1963. Its purpose was to investigate the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, at Dallas, Texas. President Johnson directed the Commission to evaluate matters relating to the assassination and the subsequent killing of the alleged assassin, and to report its findings and conclusions to him.
The following members served on the Commission:
Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, former Governor and attorney general of California, Chair;
Richard B. Russell, Democratic Senator from Georgia and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, former Governor of Georgia, and county attorney in that State;
John Sherman Cooper, Republican Senator from Kentucky, former county and circuit judge in Kentucky, and United States Ambassador to India;
Hale Boggs, Democratic Representative from Louisiana and majority whip in the House of Representatives;
Gerald R. Ford, Republican Representative from Michigan and chairman of the House Republican Conference;
Allen W. Dulles, lawyer and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;
John J. McCloy, lawyer, former President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and former United States High Commissioner for Germany.
On December 13, 1963, Congress passed Senate Joint Resolution 137 (Public Law 88-202) authorizing the Commission to subpoena witnesses and obtain evidence concerning any matter relating to the investigation. The resolution also gave the Commission the power to compel the testimony of witnesses by granting immunity from prosecution to witnesses testifying under compulsion. The Commission, however, did not grant immunity to any witness during the investigation.
The Commission acted promptly to obtain a staff to meet its needs. J. Lee Rankin, former Solicitor General of the United States, was sworn in as general counsel for the Commission on December 16, 1963. He was aided in his work by 14 assistant counsels who were divided into teams to deal with the various subject areas of the investigation. The Commission was also assisted by lawyers, Internal Revenue Service agents, a senior historian, an editor, and secretarial and administrative personnel who were assigned to the Commission by Federal agencies at its request. Officials and agencies of the state of Texas, as well as of the Federal Government, cooperated with the Commission on its work.
The Commission reviewed reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Department of State, and the Attorney General of Texas, and then requested additional information from federal agencies, Congressional committees, and state and local experts. The Commission held hearings and took the testimony of 552 witnesses. On several occasions, the Commission went to Dallas to visit the scene of the assassination and other places.
The Commission presented its Report, in which each member concurred, to President Johnson on September 24, 1964. The publication of the Report was soon followed by the publication of the 26 volumes of the Commission's Hearings. The Commission then transferred its records to the National Archives to be permanently preserved under the rules and regulations of the National Archives and applicable federal law.
Source: National Archives and Records Administration
Scope and Content
The report is 888 pages in a single volume. The following 26 volumes are, Volumes 1 to 5, hearings conducted by the Warren Commission in Washington DC. Volumes 6 to 15, hearings conducted by staff attorneys on location in Dallas, New Orleans, and other locations. Volume 15 contains an index to names and the exhibits. Volumes 16 to 26 contain photographed Commission Exhibits.
The main report, "The Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," contents are:
Title Page, Commission Members, Transmittal Letter
Chapter 1: Summary and Conclusions
Chapter 2: The Assassination
Chapter 3: The Shots from the Texas School Book Depository
Chapter 4: The Assassin
Chapter 5: Detention and Death of Oswald
Chapter 6: Investigation of Possible Conspiracy
Chapter 7: Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives
Chapter 8: The Protection of the President
Appendix 1: Press Release Announcing Appointment of Commission
Appendix 2: Press Release Announcing Appointment of Commission
Appendix 3: Pub. Law 88-202
Appendix 4: Biographical Information and Acknowledgments
Appendix 5: List of Witnesses
Appendix 6: Commission Procedures for the Taking of Testimony
Appendix 7: A Brief History of Presidential Protection
Appendix 8: Medical Reports from Doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, Tex.
Appendix 9: Autopsy Report and Supplemental Report
Appendix 10: Expert Testimony
Appendix 11: Reports Relating to the Interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald at the Dallas Police Department
Appendix 12: Speculations and Rumors
Appendix 13: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald
Appendix 14: Analysis of Lee Harvey Oswald's Finances from June 13, 1962, through November 22, 1963
Appendix 15: Transactions between Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald, and the U.S. Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the U.S. Department of Justice
Appendix 16: A Biography of Jack Ruby
Appendix 17: Polygraph Examination of Jack Ruby
Appendix 18: Footnotes
The Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and wounding Texas Governor John Connally and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald a few days later.
In 1978 the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations released its report. The report made conclusions about the work of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Warren Commission). It reported that it found that: The Warren Commission performed with varying degrees of competency in the fulfillment of its duties. The Warren Commission conducted a thorough and professional investigation into the responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination. The Warren Commission failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President. This deficiency was attributable in part to the failure of the Commission to receive all the relevant information that was in the possession of other agencies and departments of the Government. The Warren Commission arrived at its conclusions, based on the evidence available to it, in good faith. The Warren Commission presented the conclusions in its report in a fashion that was too definitive.