What is the Warren Commission?

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  • Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2019
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President Lyndon B. Johnson established the U.S. Commission to Report upon the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy on 29 November 1963, one week following the death of Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. The commission became known informally as the Warren Commission because of its chairman, Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States. During 1964, the commission conducted hearings on the assassination of President Kennedy.

Of the seven member commission, two were U.S. Senators, John Sherman Cooper and Richard B. Russell. Hale Boggs and Gerald R. Ford, U.S. Representatives, also served on the Warren Commission. The final two members were John J. McCloy, former president of the World Bank, and Allen W. Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Johnson directed the Warren Commission to assess and evaluate issues related to the assassination and the murder of Kennedy’s supposed assassin. The investigation began with the subpoena of witnesses and evidence. The commission was given the power to grant immunity of witnesses who testified, although no immunity was granted during the course of the investigation.

The Warren Commission named James Lee Rankin as general counsel; he was supported by fourteen assistant counsels and twelve additional staff members. Other personnel, including a historian, lawyers and administrative staff, assisted in the investigation.


During the course of the investigation, the Warren Commission heard 552 witnesses. Ten federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. State Department, the Secret Service, military intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency reported to the commission. The Attorney General of Texas also submitted a report.

Most of the hearings were closed to the public. In the course of its investigation, the commission traveled to Dallas to the scene of the assassination and other related locales on several occasions. The goal of the commission was to reconstruct the series of events that transpired surrounding the assassination.

The commission presented its conclusions to the President on 24 September 1964. The vast 26-volume of transcripts from the commission’s hearings was also published. The report is now part of the National Archives. Other files released by the Warren Commission include over 50,000 pages of documents, memos, and other related files. The family of JFK donated other associated documents, including the autopsy x-rays and photos, to the National Archives in 1966.

The commission determined that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and without accomplices when he killed President Kennedy on 22 November 1963. According to its report, Oswald also wounded Texas Governor John Connally and was deemed to be the murderer of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit. The commission found no evidence of conspiracy in the murder of Oswald, two days following the presidential assassination, by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner and businessman. Furthermore, the commission found no connection between Oswald and Ruby.


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Post 2

@dega2010: The Warren Commission was supposed to be a long investigation that came to the conclusion Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and there was no conspiracy.

In 1976, the US House of Representatives formed the House Select Committee on Assassination. This was to re-examine the facts surrounding the assassination of President JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. In their report they concluded Oswald didn’t act alone. They also concluded that there was a 4th shot fired by an unknown person located at the “grassy knoll”.

The Committee Report was critical of the FBI and Secret Service, because they didn’t follow all the procedures that had been in place for the last 30 years for the President’s safety. They were also critical of the CIA and accused them of very sketchy behavior during the course of the investigation and hearings.

Post 1

I still find it hard to believe that there was only one person involved in Kennedy's assassination. How can the warren report say that Oswald acted alone?

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