Nicholas Katzenbach in 1967.
On November 25 1963, the day of the Kennedy funeral, Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach sent a memo to Bill Moyers of the new Johnson White House. He had begun writing it the day earlier, within hours after Oswald's death at the hands of Jack Ruby.
The second paragraph stated: "The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial."
Given that the authorities could not possibly by November 25 know these things to be true, and Katzenbach later admitted he knew very little at this stage, the memo is clearly advocating a political course irrespective of the truth of the assassination.
The motivation for this political course may be glimped in the succeeding paragraph: "Speculation about Oswald's motivation ought to be cut off, and we should have some basis for rebutting thought that this was a Communist conspiracy or (as the Iron Curtain press is saying) a right-wing conspiracy to blame it on the Communists. Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat--too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, etc.). The Dallas police have put out statements on the Communist conspiracy theory, and it was they who were in charge when he was shot and thus silenced."
Katzenbach's memo advocated a public FBI report to satisfy this "objective," though he noted the possible need for "the appointment of a Presidential Commission of unimpeachable personnel to review and examine the evidence and announce its conclusions." He ended by advocating a quick public announcement to "head off speculation or Congressional hearings of the wrong sort."
To many observers, the Katzenbach memo provides the blueprint for the cover-up which followed.
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