THE DECEMBER 9, 1963, FBI REPORT (OFFICIALLY KNOWN AS "INVESTIGATION OF ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY"):
While looking at some assassination-related documents at the excellent
Mary Ferrell website at http://MaryFerrell.org, I started reading through
the original FBI Report (Warren Commission Document #1 [CD 1]),
which is the Federal Bureau of Investigation's initial 5-volume report on
the JFK assassination, issued on December 9, 1963, just 17 days after
the President's murder in Dallas, Texas.
The 400-page original FBI Report contains quite a bit of detail on the
background and the early life of President Kennedy's assassin, Lee
Harvey Oswald, which is information that was obtained relatively
quickly by J. Edgar Hoover's Bureau, with this information then
written up in the FBI's December Report in a very reader-friendly
Overall, in my opinion, the FBI's December 1963 Report is a good
overview (or "Summary", as it's referred to at the Ferrell website) of
the tragic events that transpired in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
But Mr. Hoover's original Report is certainly not without a few
(pretty large) mistakes, such as when the FBI reached the erroneous
conclusion (revealed on Page 1 of its Report) that each of the three
shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald struck one of the two victims seated
in the Presidential limousine (JFK and Governor John Connally of Texas).
This scenario of having all three shots striking a victim in the car
was undoubtedly fueled mainly by the report filed by two of the FBI's
agents who were present at President Kennedy's autopsy in Bethesda,
Maryland (James Sibert and Francis O'Neill), a report which stated
that the bullet that entered JFK's upper back "did not exit" the body.
This determination reached by the two FBI agents, however, was found
to be false via the autopsy report signed by all three of JFK's autopsy
physicians (which was an autopsy report that the FBI apparently never
bothered to read at all):
"The missile contused the strap muscles of the right side of the
neck, damaged the trachea and made its exit through the anterior
surface of the neck. As far as can be ascertained this missile struck
no bony structures in its path through the body." -- EXCERPT FROM JOHN
F. KENNEDY'S OFFICIAL NOVEMBER 1963 AUTOPSY REPORT
The FBI, in its Assassination Report of December 1963, decided to rely
on the Sibert/O'Neill version of events regarding the President's back
wound, rather than the autopsy report which was signed by Drs. Humes,
Boswell, and Finck (i.e., the three people at Bethesda who actually
performed the post-mortem exam on the late President).
This same reliance on the early incorrect information about a bullet
not transiting the back and neck of JFK is also evident in another
blatant error made by the FBI concerning which stretcher the
Mannlicher-Carcano bullet was discovered on, which is an error that
can be found on Page 18 of the FBI Report.
But if the FBI had investigated further, it would have been able to
easily verify the fact that the "stretcher bullet" (which was to later
be labeled by the Warren Commission as "CE399") could not have
possibly come from President Kennedy's hospital stretcher, since the
President's stretcher was never located in the area of Parkland
Hospital where the bullet was found by hospital employee Darrell
Tomlinson prior to 2:00 PM CST on 11/22/63.
The Warren Commission probed further and deeper into the murder of the
President and the wounding of Governor Connally throughout the year
1964, with the Commission's investigation, of course, being able to
correct the initial mistakes made by the FBI.
In Vincent Bugliosi's comprehensive 2007 book "Reclaiming History: The
Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy", Bugliosi makes the
following comments about the FBI's "All Shots Hit Somebody" mistake
that surfaces not only in the original FBI Report of 12/9/63, but also
in the FBI's 99-page "Supplemental Report" on the assassination, dated
January 13, 1964 (which can be located in "Commission Document 107"):
"[The] FBI at first thought that three separate bullets caused
the wounds: Though J. Edgar Hoover gave a good explanation in the
statement he issued on November 26, 1966, for the error made in the
FBI's original report of December 9, 1963, that suggested Connally
must have been hit by a separate bullet, the FBI's supplementary
report of January 13, 1964, made the same error, only stating it
explicitly, not by implication, when it said, "Medical examination of
the President's body had revealed that the bullet which entered his
back had penetrated to a distance of less than a finger length" (CD
107, p.2, January 13, 1964).
"In other words, that bullet could not have gone on to hit
Connally. The only explanation for this error being repeated by the
FBI in its supplementary report is that whoever prepared the report
failed to completely read, or read at all, the autopsy report, which
had been received by the FBI at the time of this second report and
contained the correct information that the bullet which entered the
president's back had, in fact, exited in the front of his throat (CE
387, 16 H 981).
"It should be noted that by the time of the January 13, 1964,
report, the FBI lab had examined the president's clothing and
discovered what appeared, Hoover said, to be "an exit hole for a
projectile" in the FRONT of the shirt "one inch below the collar
button," and this finding, in fact, WAS put into the January 13 report
to rebut what the autopsy surgeons had orally said on the night of the
assassination and to clarify what happened (November 25, 1966,
Prepared statement of J. Edgar Hoover, New York Times, November 26,
1966, pp.1, 25; CD 107, p.2).
"So the January 13, 1964, supplementary report is itself
internally inconsistent. A further indication that the January 13
report merely repeats, without reflection, the essence of the December
9, 1963, FBI report is that the January 13 report did not concern
itself with the autopsy.
"In its sixty-seven pages [not counting "Part 3" of the Report,
which was devoted solely to "Supplemental Exhibits"], the reference to
the "medical examination" revealing that the bullet penetrated to a
distance of less than a finger length is one of only two sentences
making reference to the autopsy (CD 107, pp.2-3, January 13, 1964)."
-- VINCENT BUGLIOSI; PAGE 298 OF "RECLAIMING HISTORY" ENDNOTES (c.
Many JFK assassination researchers might find the original FBI Report
a very interesting document to look through, as I did. As mentioned
earlier (and despite the few errors that exist in the Report), the
December 1963 FBI Report reveals a lot of detailed research
surrounding the assassination and information about President
Kennedy's murderer, with this research being performed fairly quickly
by a (no doubt) large number of FBI agents.
The FBI Report also contains several intriguing photographic exhibits
as well, with one such very interesting exhibit appearing on Page 14
of Volume 2 of the Report. It's a picture of Oswald's disassembled
Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, placed alongside the brown paper bag which
was found under the assassin's window in the Book Depository.
As can easily be seen in this FBI exhibit, the lengthiest section of
Oswald's rifle, when broken down into pieces, certainly did not exceed
the length of the handmade paper sack found in the Sniper's Nest:
The exact same black-and-white photo shown above also appears in the
32-page photo section of Vince Bugliosi's book "Reclaiming History".
While reading Mr. Bugliosi's outstanding book on the assassination, I
had asked myself, "I wonder where Vince got that picture?", because I
don't recall having ever seen it prior to seeing it in VB's book. But
now I know where he got it -- via "CD 1" [Commission Document #1,
Volume 2, Page 14].*
* = And since the photo is part of a Warren Commission
"Document" (instead of a "Commission Exhibit"), it's not an easy
photograph to track down--unless you know exactly where to look. And
the Mary Ferrell website is certainly the online place to go for
rarely-seen assassination items like "CD 1" (and for 99% of the
remaining WC "Documents"):
The links below contain some additional assassination-related pictures
of interest that are a part of "Commission Document 1" (i.e., the FBI
Report of 12/9/63):
RARE VIEW OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY BUILDING
THE RIFLE THAT KILLED PRESIDENT KENNEDY (LEE HARVEY OSWALD'S 6.5-
MILLIMETER MANNLICHER-CARCANO; SERIAL NO. C2766)
CLOSE-UP VIEW OF THE GUN THAT KILLED POLICE OFFICER J.D. TIPPIT
(OSWALD'S SMITH & WESSON .38 REVOLVER; SERIAL NO. V510210)
ORDER BLANK FOR OSWALD'S RIFLE (FILLED OUT BY KLEIN'S SPORTING GOODS COMPANY IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS)
Another official assassination "Report" that isn't discussed too often
is the "Report Of The U.S. Secret Service On The Assassination Of
President Kennedy" (dated December 18, 1963).
That Secret Service Report was designated by the Warren Commission
as "Commission Document 3" and can be seen in its entirety HERE.
Two additional "Commission Documents" that I have found extremely
informative and interesting are linked below (CD 496 and CD 497).
These two multi-page documents contain photographs only:
CD 496 (an FBI booklet entitled "TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY; DALLAS, TEXAS; PHOTOGRAPHS; FLOOR PLANS; PARKING LOTS")
CD 497 (an FBI booklet entitled "PAINE AND RANDLE HOMES; IRVING,
TEXAS; PHOTOGRAPHS; FLOOR PLANS; STREET DIAGRAMS; ROUTE MAP")
Audio link to the 11/29/63 telephone call between President Lyndon
Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. This phone call reveals some
of the initial errors made by Hoover's Bureau during the early stages
of its assassination investigation.
MORE LBJ PHONE CALLS
David Von Pein
April 26, 2008
Revised February 2, 2010