Senator questioned JFK probe

Russell had doubts about government inquiry, archive reveals

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 7:08 AM
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 5:27 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

ATHENS, Ga. -- A   scrawled note on pink memo slips still packs a punch 50 years after it was written.

U.S. Sen. Richard Russell, of Georgia, was member of Warren Commission investigating Kennedy assassination.  Morris News Sevice/ file
Morris News Sevice/ file
U.S. Sen. Richard Russell, of Georgia, was member of Warren Commission investigating Kennedy assassination.

Authored by the late Sen. Richard Russell, the note reveals the powerful Georgia lawmaker and Washington insider had doubts from the very beginning about the government’s investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Georgia senator wrote the note just after he was named to the Warren Commission, appointed to investigate the assassination of Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

The senator wrote on the pink slips as he talked to the chairman of that commission, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren – a man Russell didn’t much care for.

Russell helped block civil rights legislation for years and thought Warren was prejudiced against the South. Under Warren, the Supreme Court in 1954 handed down the Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended segregation by race in American schools.

“Warren asked about C.I.A. ‘did they have anything’ When I told of Mexico & Nicaragua NOT mentioning sums,” wrote U.S. Sen. Russell on Dec. 5, 1963. That was less than two weeks after Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down Kennedy with a high-powered rifle nearly 50 years ago now.

“He mention 5G as McCone had told me. He knew all I did & more about CIA. Something strange is happening. W. & Katenbach (Katzenbach) know all about F.B.I. and they are apparently through (an undecipherable word, perhaps ‘psychologists’) & others planning to show Oswald only one who even considered – This to me is untenable position – I must insist on outside counsel. ‘Remember Warren’s blanket indictment of South.’”

The note and other documents are in Russell’s papers, now housed in the University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. The papers, donated by the senator’s family, actually gave the library its beginning.

Elected in 1931 to be Georgia governor at the age of 33, Russell ran successfully for the U.S. Senate in 1933 and remained in Washington until his death in 1971, nearly 40 years later

Russell rose to great power and responsibility in Washington. He was chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services for 14 years, then chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations for the last two years of his life.

Some of Russell’s papers remained sealed for decades after his death in 1971, but papers opened up to the public a few years ago didn’t shed a lot of new light on the assassination.

Russell never made a secrets of his doubts, explained Jill Severn, head of access and outreach at the Russell Library.

The commission concluded that Oswald acted alone when he assassinated Kennedy and gravely injured Texas Gov. John Connally. The commission also concluded that Jack Ruby acted alone when he shot down Oswald two days later.

Other documents and handwritten notes reveal Russell’s uncertainty over the conclusions of the commission, which remain controversial to this day.

Many who have examined the evidence in subsequent years don’t accept that Oswald was acting on his own, and conspiracy theories abound.

Some involve communists governments in countries Oswald had visited. Others suspect the CIA, the Mafia, Cuban exiles or combinations of them.

Russell didn’t give voice to conspiracy theories, but he didn’t believe the investigations were thorough enough to support the commission’s findings.

“I do not share the finding of the Commission as to the probability that both President Kennedy and Governor Connally were struck by the same bullet,” Russell wrote later, as the commission neared the end of its investigation.

Though Russell’s papers don’t contain any smoking guns about the assassination, they tell historians a lot about what Russell was thinking – especially those hastily written notes Russell wrote to himself, said Sherl Vogt, director of the Russell Library.

Russell routinely wrote notes about the matters he took up as a senator, not just about the Kennedy assassination.

The notes show up unexpectedly in stacks of papers that might include grocery lists and other mundane topics, she said.

“That’s what makes this collection so rich,” Vogt said.

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nocnoc 11/12/13 - 11:28 am
Almost 50 years ago, as a kid I was told by grownups

"We'll never live long enough to know the truth."
An as time passes the evidence has become blended with made up Movie facts, and bogus facts to sell books, or get TV time for $$$$.

There will always be more to the 1963 Kennedy's Assassination and Bobby's Assassination 5 years later than we will learn. Bobby's assassination, during his then winning run for President, which happen weeks after a press statement that he would reopen His Bothers Assassination Investigation.

I have always believed JFK was assassinated internally because, and documents prove this point, JFK had planned to NOT to build up for Vietnam and work it out using diplomacy. Note: America was warned by the President just ahead of Kennedy, Eisenhower, of the Military Complex and the power it held. Ho-Chi-Mein came to us asking to get French out of their country BEFORE he turned Communist.

oldredneckman96 11/12/13 - 12:12 pm

Go to Dallas, to the book depository in Dealy Plaza. Spend the day in the museum on the sixth floor and the surrounding grounds, I have. If you leave there thinking that Oswald killed Kennedy by himself I have some ocean front property in Arizona you will want.

jimmymac 11/12/13 - 12:27 pm

The records were sealed for a period so long as to insure all alive at the time would be dead before the truth comes out. Why would they do that if there wasn't something earth shattering to hide? It was a coup plain and simple. Johnston and co. in the lead backed by FBI and CIA. Johnston hated the Kennedy's as they held him in total contempt.

oldredneckman96 11/13/13 - 05:15 pm

If you get your facts from Yahoo I have some more land in Arizoina.

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