JFK Assassination Quotes by Government Officials
What have some of the most notable officials in our country and around the world had to say about the JFK assassination and its subsequent investigations? This compendium of quotes reveals who believed the Warren Report and who suspected a darker truth, and provides a unique perspective on the assassination and aftermath. Many people think that only "conspiracy buffs" disbelieved the lone-nut solution to the Crime of the Century, this page suggests otherwise.
Robert Kennedy, Attorney General and brother of JFK:
"There's so much bitterness I thought they would get one of us, but Jack, after all he'd been through, never worried about it."
- Brothers, by David Talbot, p. 4, quoting Justice Department spokesman Edwin Guthman, who was with RFK on the afternoon of the JFK assassination.
"One of your guys did it."
- Brothers, by David Talbot, p. 10, quoting Haynes Johnson in Wash. Post of 17 Apr 1981 and personal interviews, about a comment made over the phone within hours of JFK's murder. There remains disagreement and confusion over whether RFK said this to friend and Cuban exile leader Harry Ruiz-Williams or to Haynes Johnson himself, as Johnson implied in a later article (the two men were together when the call from RFK came). According to Talbot, Johnson today insists that RFK said it to Williams.
Edward Kennedy, Senator and brother of JFK:
"There has to be more to it."
- The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, by Jonn Christian and William Turner, p. xv. NBC correspondent Sander Vanocur, the source of this statement, rode on the plane with Ted Kennedy which carried RFK's body back from Los Angeles to New York; Kennedy had talked bitterly of the "faceless men" with no apparent motive charged in the slaying of both his brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lyndon Johnson, president:
"I'll tell you something about Kennedy's murder that will rock you.....Kennedy was trying to get Castro, but Castro got to him first."
- from How CIA Plot to Kill Castro Backfired, 2 Aug 1976, by Harry Altshuler, quoting Howard K. Smith interview of LBJ.
Richard Russell, Senator and former Warren Commissioner:
"We have not been told the truth about Oswald."
- Whitewash IV, by Harold Weisberg, p. 21.
Hale Boggs, Majority Leader and former Warren Commissioner:
"Hoover lied his eyes out to the Commission - on Oswald, on Ruby, on their friends, the bullets, the guns, you name it..."
- Coincidence or Conspiracy?, by Bernard Fensterwald Jr. and Michael Ewing, p. 96. The quote comes from an unnamed aide to Congressman Boggs. The book also quotes Bogg's wife Lindy, through a colleague, as saying "He wished he had never been on it [the Commission] and wished he'd never signed it [the Report]."
John Sherman Cooper, Senator and former Warren Commissioner:
"On what basis is it claimed that two shots caused all the wounds?.....It seemed to me that Governor Connally's statement negates such a conclusion. I could not agree with this statement."
- The Zapruder Film, by David Wrone, p. 247. Cooper was commenting on a draft of the Warren Report. Wrone is citing the papers of J. Lee Rankin, wherein Cooper's written comments appeared.
Ken O'Donnell, former Special Assistant to JFK:
"I told the FBI what I had heard [two shots from behind the grassy knoll fence], but they said it couldn't have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn't want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family."
- Man of the House, by Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr., p. 178. O'Donnell was riding in the Secret Service follow-up car with Dave Powers, who was present and told O'Neill he had the same recollection.
Nicholas Katzenbach, former Asst. Attorney General:
"My own feeling was that Bobby was worried that there might be some conspiracy and that it might be his fault.....It might very well have been that he was worried that the investigation would somehow point back to him."
- Brothers, by David Talbot, p. 277.
"I'm as certain as one can be that there was no other gun shot.....But it's not silliness to speculate that somebody was behind Oswald.....I'd almost bet on the [anti-Castro] Cubans."
- Brothers, by David Talbot, p. 290.
William Attwood, former Ambassador to the UN:
"If the CIA did find out what we were doing [talks toward normalizing relations with Cuba], this would have trickled down to the lower echelon of activists, and Cuban exiles, and the more gung-ho CIA people who had been involved since the Bay of Pigs.....I can understand why they would have reacted so violently. This was the end of their dreams of returning to Cuba, and they might have been impelled to take violent action. Such as assassinating the President."
- Not in Your Lifetime, by Anthony Summers, p. 307.
Arthur Schlesinger, former JFK special advisor:
"Undoubtedly if word leaked of President Kennedy's efforts [the Attwood initiative noted above], that might have been exactly the kind of thing to trigger some explosion of fanatical violence. It seems to me a possibility not to be excluded."
- Not in Your Lifetime, by Anthony Summers, p. 307.
"We were at war with the national security people."
- told to acquaintance Wilmer Thomas when asked whom he believed was behind the assassination of President Kennedy. Quoted by Joan Mellen in How the Failure to Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led to Today's Crisis in Democracy, and paraphrased in her A Farewell to Justice, p. 162.
Frank Mankiewicz, former press secretary to RFK:
"I came to the conclusion that there was some sort of conspiracy, probably involving the mob, anti-Castro Cuban exiles, and maybe rogue CIA agents."
- Brothers, by David Talbot, p. 312.
Dick Goodwin, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs:
"We know the CIA was involved, and the Mafia. We all know that."
- Brothers, by David Talbot, p. 303. Author interview.
William Walton, friend of the Kennedys, speaking on behalf of RFK and Jaqcueline Kennedy:
"Perhaps there was only one assassin, but he did not act alone.....Dallas was the ideal location for such a crime."
- Brothers, by David Talbot, p. 32. Walton delivered his message in Moscow to Georgi Bolshakov, who had been a backchannel to the Soviet leadership and was asked to repeat it to Khrushchev. This incident occurred a week after the assassination; the story is also recounted in One Hell of a Gamble.
H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, former Nixon chief of staff:
"After Kennedy was killed, the CIA launched a fantastic cover-up. Many of the facts about Oswald unavoidably pointed to a Cuban connection.....In a chilling parallel to their cover-up at Watergate, the CIA literally erased any connection between Kennedy's assassination and the CIA."
- The Ends of Power, by H.R. Haldeman with Joseph DiMona, p. 39.
Richard Schweiker, Senator and former Church Committee member:
"I think the [Warren] report, to those who have studied it closely, has collapsed like a house of cards.....the fatal mistake the Warren Commission made was not to use its own investigators, but instead to rely on the CIA and FBI personnel, which played directly into the hands of senior intelligence officials who directed the cover-up."
- speaking on Face the Nation on 27 Jun 1976. Schweiker was with Gary Hart the co-chairman of the JFK subcommittee.
Richard Nixon, former president:
"Why don't we play the game a bit smarter for a change. They pinned the assassination of Kennedy on the right wing, the Birchers. It was done by a Communist and it was the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated. And I respectfully suggest, can't we pin this on one of theirs?"
- from a taped conversation with aide Chuck Colson on the day of the 1972 shooting of George Wallace. This quote has been misinterpreted to suggest that Nixon called the Warren Commission a "hoax."
Joseph Califano, former Army member of Cuban Coordinating Committee:
"I have come to share LBJ's view [that Castro "got him first"]....Over the years I have come to believe that the paroxysms of grief that tormented Robert Kennedy for years after his brother's death arose, at least in part, from a sense that his efforts to eliminate Castro led to his brother's assassination."
- Inside: A Public and Private Life, by Joseph A. Califano Jr., p. 126.
Harry Truman, former president:
"I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.....There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position, and I feel that we need to correct it."
- published in Washington Post of 22 Dec 1963, exactly one month after JFK's murder. Excerpted in the Church Committee testimony of Clark Clifford.
G. Robert Blakey, former Chief Counsel of the HSCA:
"I now no longer believe anything the Agency [CIA] told the committee any further than I can obtain substantial corroboration for it from outside the Agency for its veracity.....We also now know that the Agency set up a process that could only have been designed to frustrate the ability of the committee in 1976-79 to obtain any information that might adversely affect the Agency. Many have told me that the culture of the Agency is one of prevarication and dissimulation and that you cannot trust it or its people. Period. End of story. I am now in that camp."
- in an addendum to the web page for the Frontline episode "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?", after Blakey learned that CIA-HSCA liaison George Joannides had been case officer for the DRE in 1962-64.
George Burkley, former presidential physician to JFK:
"I would not care to be quoted on that."
- responding to the question "Do you agree with the Warren Report on the number of bullets that entered President Kennedy's body?" in an oral history interview of 17 Oct 1967. In 1977, Burkley's lawyer William Illig contacted HSCA Chief Counsel Sprague stating Burkley "had never been interviewed in the Kennedy assassination and has information that others besides Oswald must have participated." See Sprague memo to file of 18 Mar 1977.
Charles DeGaulle, President of France:
"Vous me blaguez! [You're kidding me.] Cowboys and Indians!"
- upon being briefed by a reporter on the lone-nut theory; reported by David Talbot in a Salon article entitled The Mother of All Cover-ups.
"But you’ll see. All of them together will observe the law of silence … They don’t want to know. They don’t want to find out. They won’t allow themselves to find out."
Said to de Gaulle's information minister Alain Peyrefitte upon de Gaulle's return from the Kennedy funeral. Translated from the French memoir of Peyrefitte, entitled C'était de Gaulle.
Fidel Castro, Prime Minister of Cuba:
"First of all, nobody ever goes that way for a visa. Second, it costs money to go that distance. He (Oswald) stormed into the embassy, demanded the visa, and when it was refused to him, headed out saying 'I'm going to kill Kennedy for this.'.....What is your government doing to catch the other assassins? It took about three people."
- Commission Document 1359, reporting on a conversation which SOLO had with Castro in June 1964. Operation SOLO was the FBI's penetration of the Communist Party USA via the brothers Jack and Morris Childs. According to John Newman, Morris was the likely source of CD 1359.
Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union:
"What really happened?"
- expressing incredulity at the official account of JFK's murder to journalist Drew Pearson during a meeting in May 1964.
Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the US:
"The KGB on Khrushchev's orders prepared a top secret report. Its principal conclusion was that the assassination arose from a plot hatched by ultraconservative groups and the Mafia in the United States with the goal of strengthening the reactionary and aggressive elements of American policy."
- In Confidence, by Anatoly Dobrynin, p. 111.
Mikhail Gorbachev, former Premier of the Soviet Union:
"He looked far ahead and he wanted to change a great deal. Perhaps it is this that is the key to the mystery of the death of President John F. Kennedy."
- written in a Sixth Floor Museum memory book in 1998, according to archivist Gary Mack in the Kennedy Assassination Chronicles.
Earl Warren, former head of the Warren Commission:
"Practically all the Cabinet members of President Kennedy's administration, along with Director J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI and Chief James Rowley of the Secret Service, whose duty it was to protect the life of the President, testified that to their knowledge there was no sign of any conspiracy. To say now that these people, as well as the Commission, suppressed, neglected to unearth, or overlooked evidence of a conspiracy would be an indictment of the entire government of the United States. It would mean the whole structure was absolutely corrupt from top to bottom, with not one person of high or low rank willing to come forward to expose the villany..."
- The Memoirs of Earl Warren, by Earl Warren, p. 367.