Conflicting Conclusions: The Government Assassination Investigations
October 29, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.| $25
As the intense subjects of discussion and debate that continue today, two crucial government investigations into the death of President John F. Kennedy reflect the evolution of the memory and mood of the nation, from a desire for closure in the immediate aftermath of the assassination to heightened cynicism and mistrust of the government more than a decade later. Conflicting Conclusions: The Government Assassination Investigations will feature a conversation between Howard P. Willens, Assistant Counsel on the staff of the Warren Commission, and G. Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations. Marking the first time these two highly respected members of the legal profession publicly discuss together their unique firsthand insights, this program will explore the context of these investigations, their findings and why questions remain still today, almost 55 years following the assassination.
About The Investigations:
One week after the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, President Lyndon B. Johnson established The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. Chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren, this prestigious investigative body, most commonly known as the Warren Commission, concluded in a report published in 1964 that alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, finding no evidence of a conspiracy.
Following a wave of critical literature by independent researchers about the assassination investigation, amplified by skepticism and social unrest of the 1960s and the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s, public trust in the Warren Commission’s Report significantly dropped. In 1975, the Abraham Zapruder film that captured the assassination was broadcast for the first time on network television, leading to increased interest in the circumstances surrounding the death of President Kennedy. Further fueled by revelations that government agencies had withheld information from the Warren Commission, in September 1976, the U.S. House of Representatives established the Select Committee on Assassinations to investigate the deaths of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While several scientific studies commissioned by the House Select Committee corroborated the findings of the Warren Commission, acoustical analysis of a Dallas police dictabelt recording led the Committee to conclude in their Final Report issued in 1979 that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, probably as a result of a conspiracy.
About Our Guests:
Howard P. Willens, an attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Justice Department in 1963, served as an assistant counsel on the staff of the Warren Commission. He is the author of History Will Prove Us Right: Inside the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (2013).
G. Robert Blakey, a longtime law professor at Notre Dame and Cornell Law School, was appointed Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1977 to 1979. He is co-author of The Plot to Kill President Kennedy (1981).