In the aftermath of Watergate, abuses by the CIA, FBI, and other intelligence agencies began coming to light. The 1974 "reform Congress" began investigating some of these matters. In this context, President Ford directed Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller to head up a President’s Commission on CIA Activities in the United States.
The “Rockefeller Commission,” whose Executive Director was former Warren Commission staffer David Belin, investigated CIA mail opening programs, its monitoring of anti-war dissidents, and also conducted a limited review of JFK’s assassination. Specifically, the Commission dealt with allegations that Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis had participated in the assassination (and were two of the three “tramps” arrested that day). It also analyzed the JFK medical evidence, in an attempt to explain how the Zapruder film’s depiction of Kennedy being thrust backward was compatible with a shot from behind.
The Rockefeller Commission was quickly overtaken by the congressional Church Committee, whose scope was much broader and included U.S. plots to assassinate foreign leaders, the FBI’s domestic CounterIntelligence program which targeted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among others, and much more. The Rockefeller Commission in history looks much like the Tower Commission which initially investigated Iran-Contra. Like that body, the Rockefeller Commission has been accused of having been an (unsuccessful) attempt to fend off more thorough investigations.
Rockefeller Commission Report. Report to the President by the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, June 1975.
Files of the Rockefeller Commission. Includes interview transcripts, memos, correspondence and other Commission files released under the JFK Records Act.