J. Edgar Hoover, circa 1953

J. Edgar Hoover:

Clueless Bureaucrat?

The man at right is J. Edgar Hoover, long-time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the evil genius of conspiracy literature. Supposedly, he knew all about an assassination conspiracy. He led his bureau in a finely crafted coverup of evidence of that conspiracy. He banboozled the Warren Commission.

One of the great bureaucratic empire builders of all time, Hoover was a genius in some ways. But his knowledge of the assassination was spotty at times. The following is a memo he wrote outlining a phone conversation he had with President Lyndon Johnson on the Friday after the assassination. Statements he made that are obviously inaccurate and totally clueless are highlighted in maroon. The highlighted statements are not statements that conspiracists believe, and lone gunman theorists disbelieve. Nor are they statements that lone gunman theorists believe and conspiracists disbelieve. They are statements that are just wacky.


WASHINGTON, D.C. 1:39 p.m.
November 29, 1963

  The President called and asked if I am familiar with the proposed group they are trying to get to study my report - two from the House, two from the Senate, two from the courts, and a couple of outsiders. I replied that I had not heard of that but had seen reports from the Senate Investigating Committee.

  The President stated he wanted to get by just with my file and my report. I told him I thought it would be very bad to have a rash of investigations. He then indicated the only way to stop it is to appoint a high-level committee to evaluate my report and tell the House and Senate not to go ahead with the investigation. I stated that would be a three-ring circus.

  The President then asked what I think about Allen Dulles, and I replied that he is a good man. He then asked about John McCloy, and I stated I am not as enthusiastic about McCloy, that he is a good man but I am not so certain as to the matter of publicity he might want. The President then mentioned General [Lauris] Norstad, and I said he is a good man. He said in the House he might try [Hale] Boggs and [Gerald R.] Ford and in the Senate [Richard B.] Russell and [John Sherman] Cooper. I asked him about Cooper and he indicated Cooper of Kentucky whom he described as a judicial man, stating he would not want [Jacob K.] Javits. I agreed on this point. He then reiterated Ford of Michigan, and I indicated I know of him but do not know him and had never seen him except on television the other day and that he handled himself well on television. I indicated that I do know Boggs.

    Johnson, President Lyndon B.
    Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
    Presidential Commission on Assassination
       of President John F. Kennedy
    Security - Presidential
    Presidential Conferences
    Presidential Travel Security

Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr, November 29, 1963
   Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
  The President then mentioned that [Walter] Jenkins had told him that I have designated Mr. DeLoach to work with them as he had on the Hill.

  He indicated they appreciated that and just wanted to tell me they consider Mr. DeLoach as high class as I do, and that they salute me for knowing how to pick good men.

There is no evidence of Oswald ever getting $6500 dollars from the Cuban Embassy.

  I advised the President that we hope to have the investigation wrapped up today but probably won't have it before the first of the week as an angle in Mexico is giving trouble - the matter of Oswald's getting $6500 from the Cuban Embassy and coming back to this country with it; that we are not able to prove that fact; that we have information he was there on September 18 and we are able to prove he was in New Orleans on that date; that a story came in changing the date to September 28 and he was in Mexico on the 28th. I related that the police have again arrested Duran, a member of the Cuban Embassy; that they will hold her two or three days; will confront her with the original informant; and will also try a lie detector test on her.

  The President then inquired if I pay any attention to the lie detector test. I answered that I would not pay 100% attention to them; that it was only a psychological asset in investigation; that I would not want to be a part of sending a man to the chair on a lie detector test. I explained that we have used them in bank investigations and a person will confess before the lie detector test is finished, more or less fearful it will show him guilty. I said the lie detector test has this psychological advantage. I further stated that it is a misnomer to call it a lie detector since the evaluation of the chart made by the machine is made by a human being and any human being is apt to make the wrong interpretation.

  I stated, if Oswald had lived and had take a lie detector test, this with the evidence we have would have added that much strength to the case; that these is no question he is the man.

  I also told him that Rubenstein down there has offered to take a lie detector test but his lawyer must be consulted first; that I doubt the lawyer will allow him to do so; that he has a West Coast lawyer somewhat like the Edward Bennett Williams type and almost as much of a shyster.

  The President asked if we have any relationship between the two [Oswald and Rubenstein] as yet. I replied that at the present time we have

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Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr, November 29, 1963
   Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
not; that there was a story that the fellow had been in Rubenstein's nightclub but it has not been confirmed. I told the President that Rubenstein is a very seedy character, had a bad record - street brawls, fights, etc.; that in Dallas, if a fellow came into his nightclub and could not pay his bill completely, Rubenstein would beat him up and throw him out; that he did not drink or smoke; that he was an egomaniac; that he likes to be in the limelight; knew all of the police officers in the white light district; let them come in and get food and liquor, etc.; and that is how I think he got into police headquarters. I said if they ever made any move, the pictures did not show it even when they saw him approach and he got right up to Oswald and pressed the pistol against Oswald's stomach; that neither officer on either side made any effort to grab Rubenstein - not until after the pistol was fired. I said, secondly, the chief of police admits he moved Oswald in the morning as a convenience and at the request of motion picture people who wanted daylight. I said insofar as tying Rubenstein and Oswald together, we have not yet done so; that there are a number of stories which tied Oswald to the Civil Liberties Union in New York in which he applied for membership and to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee which is pro-Castro, directed by communists, and financed to some extent by the Castro Government.

The basement of Police Headquarters was deep inside the building, and the light outside was irrelevant.

  The President asked how many shots were fired, and I told him three. He then asked if any were fired at him. I said no, that three shots were fired at the President and we have them. I stated that our ballistic experts were able to prove the shots were fired by this gun; that the President was hit by the first and third bullets and the second hit the Governor; that there were three shots; that one complete bullet rolled out of the President's head; that it tore a large part of the President's head off; that in trying to massage his heart on the way into the hospital they loosened the bullet which fell on the stretcher and we have that.

No bullet rolled out of the President's head. It was found on a hospital gurney, having either been planted there (conspiracy version) or having fallen out of John Connally's thigh (lone assassin version). No one tried to massage JFK's heart on the way to the hospital.
FBI firearms expert Frazier was able to fire three accurate shots in 4.5 seconds, not three.

  He then asked were they aimed at the President. I replied they were aimed at the President, no question about that.

  I further advised him that we have also tested the fact you could fire those three shots in three seconds. I explained that there is a story out that there must have been more than one man to fire several shots but we have proven it could be done by one man.

Connally's orientation in the seat was irrelevant to Kennedy getting hit.

  The President then asked how it happened that Connally was hit. I explained that Connally turned to the President when the first shot was fired and in that turning he got hit. The President then asked, if Connally had not been in his seat, would the President have been hit by the second shot. I said yes.

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Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr, November 29, 1963
   Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan

The gun was found on the sixth floor of the Depository.

  I related that on the fifth floor of the building where we found the gun and the wrapping paper we found three empty shells that had been fired and one that had not been fired; that he had four but didn't fire the fourth; then threw the gun aside; went down the steps; was seen by a police officer; the manager told the officer that Oswald was all right, worked there; they let him go; he got on a bus; went to his home and got a jacket; then came back downtown, walking; the police officer who was killed stopped him, not knowing who he was; and he fired and killed the police officer.

Oswald did not come back downtown, but walked into a commercial section of Oak Cliff.

  The President asked if we can prove that and I answered yes.

  I further related that Oswald then walked another two blocks; went to the theater; the woman selling tickets was so suspicious - said he was carrying a gun when he went into the theater - that she notified the police; the police and our man went in and located Oswald. I told him they had quite a struggle with Oswald but that he was subdued and shown out and taken to police headquarters.

The Texas Theatre was eight blocks, not two blocks, from 10th and Patton where Tippit was killed.

  I advised the President that apparently Oswald had come down the steps from the fifth floor; that apparently the elevator was not used.

  The President then indicated our conclusions are: (1) he is the one who did it; (2) after the President was hit, Governor Connally was hit; (3) the President would have been hit three times except for the fact that Governor Connally turned after the first shot and was hit by the second; (4) whether he was connected with the Cuban operation with money we are trying to nail down. I told him that is what we are trying to nail down; that we have copies of the correspondence; that none of the letters dealt with any indication of violence or assassination; that they were dealing with a visa to go back to Russia.

  I advised the President that his wife had been very hostile, would not cooperate and speaks only Russian; that yesterday she said, if we could give assurance she would be allowed to remain in the country, she would cooperate; and that I told our agents to give that assurance and sent a Russian-speaking agent to Dallas last night to interview her. I said I do not know whether or not she has any information but we would learn what we could.

  The President asked how Oswald had access to the fifth floor of the building. I replied that he had access to all floors. The President asked where was his office and I stated he did not have any particular place; that he

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Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr, November 29, 1963
   Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
was not situated in any particular place; that he was just a general packer of requisitions that came in for books from Dallas schools; that he would have had proper access to the fifth and sixth floors whereas usually the employees were down on lower floors. The President then inquired if anybody saw him on the fifth floor, and I stated he was seen by one of the workmen before the assassination.

  The President then asked if we got a picture taken of him shooting the gun and I said no. He asked what was the picture sold for $25,000, and I advised him this was a picture of the parade showing Mrs. Kennedy crawling out of the back seat; that there was no Secret Service Agent on the back of the car; that in the past they have added steps on the back of the car and usually had an agent on either side standing on the bumper; that I did not know why this was not done - that the President may have requested it; that the bubble top was not up but I understand the bubble top was not worth anything because it was made entirely of plastic; that I had learned much to my surprise that the Secret Service does not have any armored cars.

  The President asked if I have a bulletproof car and I told him I most certainly have. I told him we use it here for my own use and, whenever we have any raids, we make use of the bulletproof car on them.

  I explained that it is a limousine which has been armorplated and that it looks exactly like any other car. I stated I think the President ought to have a bulletproof car; that from all I understand the Secret Service has had two cars with metal plates underneath the car to take care of hand grenades or bombs thrown out on the street. I said this is European; that there have been several such attempts on DeGaulle's life; but they do not do that in this country; that all assassinations have been with guns; and for that reason I think very definitely the President ought to always ride in a bulletproof car; that it certainly would prevent anything like this ever happening again; but that I do not mean a sniper could not snipe him from a window if he were exposed.

  The President asked if I meant on his ranch he should be in a bulletproof car. I said I would think so; that the little car we rode around in when I was at the ranch should be bulletproofed; that it ought to be done very quietly. I told him we have four bulletproof cars in the Bureau: one on the West Coast, one in New York and two here. I said this could be done quietly without publicity and without pictures taken of it if handled properly and I think he should have one on his ranch.

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Memorandum for Messrs. Tolson, Belmont, Mohr, November 29, 1963
Conrad, DeLoach, Evans, Rosen, Sullivan
  The President then asked if I think all the entrances should be guarded. I replied by all means, that he had almost to be in the capacity of a so-called prisoner because without that security anything could be done. I told him lots of phone calls had been received over the last four or five days about threats on his life; that I talked to the Attorney General about the funeral procession from the White House to the Cathedral; that I was opposed to it. The President remarked that the Secret Service told them not to but the family wanted to do it.

  I stated that was what the Attorney General told me but I was very much opposed to it. I further related that I saw the procession from the Capitol to the White House on Pennsylvania and, while they had police standing on the curbs, when the parade came, the police turned around and looked at the parade.

  The President then stated he is going to take every precaution he can; that he wants to talk to me; and asked if I would put down my thoughts. He stated I was more than head of the FBI - I was his brother and personal friend; that he knew I did not want anything to happen to his family; that he has more confidence in me than anybody in town; that he would not embroil me in a jurisdictional dispute; but that he did want to have my thoughts on the matter to advocate as his own opinion.

  I stated I would be glad to do this for him and that I would do anything I can. The President expressed his appreciation.
Very truly yours,

[signed J. E. H.]

John Edgar Hoover

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