Mr. PREYER [presiding]. The committee calls Mr. Katzenbach.
TESTIMONY OF NICHOLAS KATZENBACH, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. PREYER. Mr. Katzenbach, it is good to have you with us today. I ask that you stand and be sworn in at this time. Do you solemnly swear the evidence you are about to give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I do.
Mr. PREYER - We have a rather slim attendance at this moment because of a vote that is on on the House floor. I think Members will be returning momentarily.
Mr. KATZENBACH - Not a new experience for me.
Mr. PREYER - I suggest that we take a several minute recess in place, if you do not mind. We would like to have--here is Mr. McKinney here right now. I think we are ready to proceed. The committee will recognize Gary Cornwell, counsel for the committee, to begin the questioning of the witness.
Mr. CORNWELL - Mr. Chairman, I am prepared at this time to question the witness. However, I had the opportunity to take a lengthy deposition from Mr. Katzenbach previously. That deposition has been provided to the committee and I have been informed that the committee has had an opportunity to study it carefully. In light of that, I might suggest, in view of the late hour, perhaps the committee might simply like to begin first and ask the questions of Mr. Katzenbach in those areas that we are most concerned with.
Mr. PREYER - Is the deposition a part of the record or do you wish it introduced into evidence at this point in the record?
Mr. CORNWELL - It is in the files. Mr. Katzenbach has not yet had an opportunity to read it carefully himself and to sign it. As soon as he does so, it will be made a permanent part of the record, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PREYER - Fine. The Chair recognizes Mr. McKinney to begin the questioning of the witness.
Mr. McKINNEY - Mr. Attorney General, it is a pleasure to see you again. We really appreciate your coming to help us in these deliberations. I would like to start out by asking the question as to your exerting tremendous pressure right after the assassination to get the FBI report out and to get a report in front of the American people. This is somewhat evidenced by your memorandum to Mr. Moyers of November 25. What was your basic motivation in looking for such speed?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I think my basic motivation was the amount of speculation both here and abroad as to what was going on, whether there was a conspiracy of the right or a conspiracy of the left or a lone assassin or even in its wildest stages, a conspiracy by the then Vice President to achieve the Presidency, the sort of thing you have speculation about in some countries abroad where that kind of condition is normal. It seemed to me that the quicker some information could be made available that went beyond what the press was able to uncover and what the press was able to speculate about was desirable in that state of affairs.
Mr. McKINNEY - In your deposition to the committee on page 8, you suggested that one of your interests was that the facts, all of them, had to be made public and it had to be done in a way that would give the public, both in this country and abroad, the confidence that no facts were being withheld at all. Do you think that pushing for this type of speed might have hurt the accuracy of the report or brought about the fact that some people would question the speed of its issuance its thoroughness its completeness?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I do not think the two notions are connected, Congressman. I think the motivations for getting some kind of report out, some facts out early were the ones that I have stated. The memorandum of Mr. Moyers and a number of other conversations and things that I have said really related to the desirability of a totally thorough, complete investigation by a commission, such as the Warren Commission, which should point out all of the facts available and all of the reasons for their conclusions. I never intended at any point that the investigation done by the FBI would be a substitute for the kind of investigation of President Kennedy's assassination.
Mr. McKINNEY - Perhaps for the general public and for the committee, you could discuss for us your recollection of when and how the idea of a Presidential Commission came forth. I know you mention it in your memorandum to Mr. Moyers again. How did you feel about it, at first? Were you opposed to it or not, and when it was finally firmed up, how was it finally decided?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I think an idea like that perhaps has several apparents. It was something that very soon after the assassination I thought was a good idea, that such a Commission should be formed of people of impeccable integrity, people who would search for the truth and who would make that truth public because I did not believe that if it remained entirely within the executive branch that that effect could ever be achieved as far as the general public here or abroad was concerned. So, I thought very early that such a Commission was essential to, really to the political process, to getting all of the facts out on such an occasion as the assassination of a popular and respected President. So, I pressed for that very early. I was never opposed to it. I was, however, in a somewhat awkward position because of my responsibilities in the Department of Justice as Deputy Attorney General at that time and, in effect, very nearly acting Attorney General at that time because of Robert Kennedy's tragic loss and reaction that he had to the assassination of his brother. My awkwardness was because it was perfectly obvious to anybody who knew anything about the Federal Bureau of Investigation that they were certain to resent the appointment of any such commission, on the one hand, and if I were thought to be the source of that or to recommend that, then it would very seriously affect my relations with Mr. Hoover and the Bureau.
Mr. McKINNEY - In other words, it is safe to say that with the mere mention of another investigation or another investigation or an investigative commission, Mr. Hoover would have considered it a somewhat of an insult to the FBI in its activities in this area.
Mr. KATZENBACH - Absolutely.
Mr. McKINNEY - You brought up the subject of the Attorney General, so I will move to that for just a moment. I think it also might be of benefit to the committee and the public if you were to describe to us as best you could the Attorney General's role and his feelings at that time. It has been difficult, I think, even though everyone is aware of the tremendous loss, for many people to understand why the Attorney General, who had had task forces all over the United States looking into organized crime, who had been an active prosecutor of organized crime, who had been an extremely activist Attorney General, why he never took more of a role in ordering the FBI to do things and in ordering his in-the-field people who had connections with the Mafia to move into any areas such as the Cuban area.
Mr. KATZENBACH - Well, when the assassination occurred, Robert Kennedy's world just came apart, in that not only his affection for his brother, but everything that they had been trying to do, everything they had worked for a long time just went with that shot. He was very devastated both I think by the personal loss and by the sudden crashing halt of all of the things that he had worked for with his brother for a long period of time. His attitude was not difficult, I think, for those who knew him well to understand. He said nothing that was done was going to bring his brother back to life and it was, I think, almost as simple as that, as far as he was concerned.
Mr. McKINNEY - In other words, not only was his devastation personal but it was political in that it was just over, the whole dream.
Mr. KATZENBACH, I think it was both. Both the two were so intertwined that it is difficult to distinguish them, I think. I think I would put them both under the feeling of personal. Everything that you were doing in life, a brother who was beloved just suddenly turned to dust.
Mr. McKINNEY - Throughout your deposition, you bring up a point that I do not think as a committee member I was aware of. Even in discussing the formation of a commission on page 13 of your deposition, you said, "I thought Chief Justice Warren probably had more credibility abroad than any other American." And you go on throughout your deposition in describing a tremendous amount of pressure from the State Department. I wonder if you would like to go into that in any more depth for the committee as to exactly why that pressure and in what forms it took. We have several exhibits suggesting the international repercussions, which I will put in the record later, which are essentially memos from Belmont, Jenkins, and Donahou and others. I thought perhaps you might like to go into the background of that.
Mr. KATZENBACH - I was certainly communicated with several times by the State Department and I suppose in a sense that is pressure, although I do not know that I really felt it as pressure. I felt they had their problems and they wanted some help in trying to resolve them. We have 120, or whatever it is, Embassies around the world and every Ambassador there was being asked about this, being asked by that government what was happening, what was the story on it, as well as what effect it would have on our foreign policy, and I think they were very--being no information really available to them, they were simply feeling the lack of it and feeling that affected their credibility in foreign governments.
Mr. McKINNEY - Were they suggesting or did you have any conversations with the White House that suggested that perhaps President Johnson's viability as a world leader was in question or weakened until the whole issue of who shot President Kennedy was resolved to the world's satisfaction?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I do not now recall any conversations as specific as that. It seems to me that had to be an underlying factor and, in addition, perhaps it is important to remember that President Kennedy had worked a long time and had achieved a considerable amount of stature after some fairly difficult beginnings. That here was not a totally unknown President, not totally unknown, relatively certainly unknown person in the Presidency.
Mr. McKINNEY - As essentially, although certainly not officially, acting Attorney General during this period would you describe to the committee what your relationship was with Mr. Hoover at that time?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I had never had a great deal of relationship with Mr. Hoover in terms of personal relationship with him. I suppose I had seen him a half dozen times maybe while I was in the Department of Justice. He had a considerable animosity, I think, toward Robert Kennedy. I think he had never been in a position of having an Attorney General who was closer to the President than he was and that was a new situation for him, and one I do not think he liked. His relationship with Mr. Kennedy was very, I think, cold formal and I suppose as Robert Kennedy's deputy, some of that shed off on me.
Mr. McKINNEY - Wasn't it true or isn't it inferable that Bobby Kennedy's very drive against organized crime was, in effect, a slap in the face to Mr. Hoover in that it implied that the FBI had not been the gangbusters that we were all brought up to think they were?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes, I think that is true and, of course, the drive in civil rights was one that kept exposing the Bureau to criticism, right or wrong, and that was resented by Mr. Hoover. Mr. Hoover resented criticism to a degree greater than any other person that I have ever known.
Mr. McKINNEY - I do not know whether you were in the room earlier, but I mentioned and brought up to Mr. Rankin a letter to Mr. Tolson in which the FBI, in essence, refused to go to the Warren Commission meeting as liaison and in essence refused to brief you as to what they were doing, stating that they would have nothing further to say to either the Commission or anyone else until their investigation was finished. This was somewhat a slap to you as well as to the Warren Commission. How did you react to this?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I think, Congressman, the first thing to remember is that was a letter from Allen Belmont to Tolson, not a piece of paper that I saw at the time or the Chief Justice saw at the time or that anybody other than those within the Bureau. I think it is also important to remember that no memorandum, no letter written in the Bureau was really written for anyone other than Mr. Hoover. That is, it would reflect whatever the author thought Mr. Hoover's views were. I do not believe that Al Belmont put to me or had me put to the Chief Justice any flat refusal of that kind to go as a liaison. My recollection is that the Bureau's attitude at that time was that it would be better if we did not go to this organizational meeting of the Commission because we will be asked a lot of questions about a report that is not complete, which we do not wish to answer until the report is complete; not an unreasonable position to take and not one which reflects the attitudes reflected in the memorandum which you are reading. And I believe that I probably, although I have no specific recollection of it, conveyed to the Chief Justice that view and those reasons and that he accepted them.
Mr. McKINNEY - How did you feel as the Warren Commission moved on in its work? How did you feel about the FBI's thoroughness and the FBI's cooperation with the Commission?
Mr. KATZENBACH - It was always my view, the whole time that I was in the Department of Justice, that the Bureau would do what you asked the Bureau to do and that they would do it well and professionally. They did not like what they were doing. They might want something more specific in the way of instructions than if they liked what they were doing. For example, if you were to look at the files now on civil rights matters and compared them with ordinary crimes that the Bureau was investigating, you would find very detailed memorandum to the FBI from John Door in the Civil Rights Division, Burke Marshall saying please do this and then answers to that or this, do something else, three and four page instructions. Whereas if it was a kidnapping, you did not really have to give them any instructions. They were there and doing things as they ought to be done. I regarded then and I regard now, despite all that has come out, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is probably the most highly trained, the most effective investigative agency in the world.
Mr. McKINNEY - How do you tie that though to the fact that we now know they actually withheld from the Warren Commission any information they had regarding the CIA's overtures to the Mafia and the assassination attempts against Castro?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I am very surprised that they did that and I really have no explanation as to why they did that. It may have been because Mr. Dulles was a member of the Commission and they thought that was his job to do it, but I am quite surprised, given relationships between the FBI and the CIA, I am surprised that the FBI did not seize the opportunity to embarrass the CIA.
Mr. McKINNEY - I am glad you used that word "embarrass" the CIA because I was going to ask you if you would describe your understanding at this period. My understanding is that the Director of the FBI had removed liaison from the CIA and the CIA retaliated. We had a situation where neither agency was talking to the other, basically on the basis of personal animosity rather than anything factual. Is this your understanding of their relationship at this time?
Mr. KATZENBACH - There may be some overstatement in that. Essentially that was strained for that reason. On the other hand, whenever that occurred and it occurred on other occasions, liaison was maintained simply because it had to be maintained at a lower level.
Mr. McKINNEY - You state in your deposition--we will move on to the CIA, on page 19. You say and I quote: Perhaps naively, but I thought that the appointment of Allen Dulles to the Commission would insure that the Commission had access to anything that the CIA had. I am astounded to this day that Mr. Dulles did not at least make that information available to the other Commissioners. He might have been skeptical about how far it was to go to the staff or how it might be further investigated because there was somewhat more of an aura of secrecy surrounding the CIA in 1964 than there is in 1978. And then you went on to say that you are referring to generally anything that the CIA had in its files. Are you somewhat appalled at this point when you find out that not only were the files not thoroughly given to the Warren Commission but that such important things as Nosenko were not really given very happily?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes, I am.
Mr. McKINNEY - Do you think that there is anything that this committee could possibly propose, should this terrible type of horror happen again, that would give a Commission such as the Warren Commission any type of authority which would override the bureaucratic malaise that we seemed to have had back during the Warren Commission days?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I really cannot think of anything offhand. In the final analysis in government, you have to rely on the integrity and the competence of people in high position. They may not always have the integrity they should have and they may not always have that competence, but if you do not have that, it is pretty hard to scotch tape a solution around.
Mr. McKINNEY - There are two letters, as you probably know, which are Kennedy exhibits F-466 and F-473 from Mr. DeLoach, one of them on 11-25 and one on 12-20 concerning the leaks of the FBI information and a report, in essence, in one accusing you of leaking information. In your deposition you indicated it would be difficult for you to do so because you did not know the information. And I just wondered what you could give this committee that would enlighten us at to why the FBI instead of simply putting out their report with the facts as they saw them started this process of slowly leaking to their favorite reporters?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I think it was largely because of the appointment of the Warren Commission.
Mr. McKINNEY - I am sorry.
Mr. KATZENBACH - It was largely because of the appointment of the Warren Commission and their resentment about that. They very much wanted the report to be made public. They very much wanted to get all the credit for it. They very much wanted the center stage. When that was frustrated, I think they took steps of leaking the information. They have done that in much lesser contexts many, many times when I was in the Department.
Mr. McKINNEY - Isn't it also possible that there is a definitive feeling on their part that a leak would not show a deficiency in an investigation as much as a report would be criticized for deficiencies?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I doubt that. It is a speculation one can make. I doubt it for only one reason. I doubt very much that the Federal Bureau of Investigation thought there were any deficiencies whatsoever in their report.
Mr. McKINNEY - Or as least they thought there would be no deficiencies.
Mr. KATZENBACH - They thought there were none; yes.
Mr. McKINNEY - Well, I am fascinated that the Senate came to the conclusion that, quoting from book V on page 6: The committee had developed evidence which impeaches the process by which intelligence agencies arrive at their own conclusions about the assassination and by which they provided information the the Warren Commission. They go on to state that "Facts that might have substantially affected the course of the investigation were not provided the Warren Commission." Then you state on page 30 of your deposition that "Mr. Hoover resented greatly when Mr. Kennedy or I talked directly to any agent in the field." On page 47 of your deposition you said: You see, nobody really could do it other than the Bureau, with the Bureau's acquiescence. Nobody else knew. I did not know what was going on. Nobody in the government knew what was going on other than very short conclusionary statements which you got from liaison people, from the Director himself. In other words, isn't this really sort of a stone wall attitude toward the Commission, toward the Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General and almost everybody else involved?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes, it can be viewed that way. The Bureau, during the time that I was in the Department of Justice, had a very strong view that they were to do investigations. That was their responsibility and their responsibility ran essentially to Mr. Hoover on that, and they wanted suggestions. They would follow suggestions, orders with respect to an investigation from prosecutors, from the attorneys in the Department who had responsibility for the development of a case. But essentially how they went about it and how they did it, who was assigned to it, what they said was received up through their bureaucracy. What they resented was our talking with an agent in the field about an investigation he was doing, or about something he was familiar with rather than get that report coming back through the FBI bureaucracy and coming out with Mr. Hoover's signature and a memorandum to the Attorney General from one of the Assistant Directors, as a memorandum for an Assistant Attorney General or whatever. That is not all bad. They simply did not want to be pinned with the views expressed by some agent in the field. If they did not acquiesce in those views or if they had other information available to them which cast some doubt upon those views, and I can understand that, as frustrating as it often was. I can understand that. I mean, when I was in government or even today--I have lot of lawyers working for me. Not every one of those people is expressing my views.
Mr. McKINNEY - I guess one of the bottom lines, then, of all of this, is to ask the question: If the FBI and if the CIA had been wholly cooperative and wholly open to the Warren Commission, do you, No. 1, feel that there would have been any different result in what the Warren Commission came up with or how long it took to come up with that answer? Or do you feel that perhaps the Warren Commission's final conclusions would not have been open to such tremendous criticism and skepticism?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Well, I think obviously things would have been investigated that were not investigated or investigated in more depth than they were investigated. I have no way at all of knowing whether what light that would have cast. I have been personally persuaded that the result was right and I do not think it would have changed any of the evidence that they had that led to that result. But I suppose one has to say, an investigation that did not take place, it is impossible to know what would have come out of it. And I think on the third part of your question, it is clear to me that had that been done, had that been investigated, had those facts been made public, perhaps what is going on here today would not have taken place, would not have been necessary.
Mr. McKINNEY - In other words, the opening would not have been there. It is luck perhaps that the Warren Commission may have hit the right result but there were so many avenues in which individual bureaucratic decisions were made not to open and were not discovered that it is relatively lucky they did not lead anywhere.
Mr. KATZENBACH - I think lucky is too strong a word. They did an awful lot of work and had an awful lot of facts and an awful lot of good investigation was done in the areas where it was done.
Mr. McKINNEY - Mr. Chairman, I have no further questions--one more question I guess I would ask. In general, we discuss the pressure from the State Department in the beginning and the reasons for that pressure and your memorandums. Do you feel that the pressure from, say, the State Department, the pressure from the White House, general pressures of the time really made the Warren Commission do its work too quickly and the FBI do its work too quickly so that also subjected them to criticism?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I think more true of perhaps the initial FBI report, but I don't think it is possible in that period of time to do the kind of investigation that had to be done, nor do I think in essence that was what they were doing. I think they were trying to arrive at a conclusion on the basis of a very intensive, massive, but hasty investigation so as to get the most salient facts out. The Warren Commission, my recollection is, too, about a year, and it would seem to me that is not--I don't think there was any great pressure to get it out within a year. If they felt it was 18 months, I think it would have taken 18 months.
Mr. McKINNEY - It is known the Chief Justice definitely wanted to get it out before the heat of a political campaign rose to the front?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes, and I am sure he wanted to get back on the bench.
Mr. McKINNEY - It is safe to say you found yourself in the uncomfortable position of being pressured to get information out but at the same time realized that speed was certainly not going to make the FBI investigation as accurate as you would like to see it?
Mr. KATZENBACH - The conclusions might be accurate but the investigation couldn't conceivably be as thorough in that period of time as the assassination of a President ought to require.
Mr. McKINNEY - Thank you very much. I really appreciate your answer. I am finished.
Chairman STOKES - Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Preyer.
Mr. PREYER - Just one question, Mr. Chairman. You have served as Attorney General, and a very good one, and you were also instrumental in setting up the citizens committee. In the awful chance that we might ever have had to go through this kind of thing again, would you recommend the setting up of a citizens committee once again, or would you prefer to rely on the judicial system solely to investigate such an assassination?
Mr. KATZENBACH - The question is difficult, Congressman, because had Ruby not shot Oswald, then I think you would have had a very different state of facts. I assume in those circumstances that it would have been investigation by the agencies of the Government developing the evidence they had, for prosecution--at the time by State authorities--of Oswald for the murder of the President. Whether subsequent to that, depending on what then happened, you would have had a commission, a citizens group, such as the Warren Commission, I suppose, would have depended on what all the surrounding facts were at that time. Given the identical situation; yes, if that occurred I would take the same course again, and I think I would do it the same way. I think I would rely in the same way and hope that the reliance was not misplaced.
Mr. PREYER - So the fact that there was no public trial possible in the Kennedy assassination is one good reason for having a citizens committee?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes sir. You might need one in any event, because a trial---
Mr. PREYER - Pardon me?
Mr. KATZENBACH - You might need one in any event, because the nature of a trial might leave out, leave a lot, might establish the guilt of murder of the defendant without bringing in all of the collateral things which---
Mr. PREYER - That was going to be my next question, such as the guilty plea in the James Earl Ray case?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes.
Mr. PREYER - Of Martin Luther King?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Sure, exactly. Even without the guilty plea the limits of relevant evidence, there may be a lot of unanswered questions after the judicial process has been completed.
Mr. PREYER - You mentioned the FBI, you felt, was the most effective investigative agency in the world, but you have also noted a number of the difficulties of the citizens committee working with the FBI, certain institutional jealousies there. Do you think if you had to do it again that you would advise the Warren Commission to go the route of employing independent investigators, or would you rely on the FBI as the major investigative arm?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I think the question is somewhat hypothetical because, you see, I don't think there are other investigators who have nearly the competence. I don't think they are available in the numbers that you would need them. So it seemed to me that even today, as then, not to use the investigative agencies of the Government, and particularly the FBI, is probably to waste one of the most valuable assets that you have.
Mr. PREYER - Thank you very much.
Chairman STOKES - Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD - Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Katzenbach, nice to have you here with us today. I suppose that an awful lot of the speculation that grew out of the Warren Commission, after the completion of its work, over the past 15 years, a lot of it stemmed, and I will ask if you agree or disagree with this--stemmed from the memorandum, the so-called memorandum from Mr. Moyers, the November 25 memorandum that you drafted and sent to Bill Moyers. As I recall, over the past 15 years, on any number of occasions I have either read or heard people refer to that first paragraph in that memorandum, three points, and I will quote it for you, then-I don't know if you have a copy or not, I will see that you get one in front of you. I am quoting here: 1. The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial. This was November 25, 1963, 3 days after the assassination. Now, unfortunately they don't always quote the other paragraphs in that memorandum, which I think to an extent mellow that single paragraph, but still that paragraph has been quoted extensively as an indication that the Warren Commission was really a self-fulfilling prophecy, that it was not designed to investigate the assassination of the President from a de novo position, but rather to confirm what the FBI had already concluded, what the Dallas police had concluded, and that, therefore, the Warren Commission didn't really fulfill its obligation, the obligation that Chief Justice Warren outlined when he said our responsibility is to get at the truth. I am creating that scenario for you because that is how I think it has been portrayed over the years. I have listened today to you talk about the various motivations, and it is hard, one can only sympathize, not empathize, with your position in those days, what it must have been like to be in the position you were in and have the responsibilities you had. Can you tell this committee, or help us try and straighten out what your motivation was at that moment that you wrote those words--and this is 3 days after the assassination--"the public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin." Why was it so important that the public be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Because, very simply, if that was the conclusion that the FBI was going to come to, then the public had to be satisfied that that was the correct conclusion. My whole attitude in that memorandum, and I think it is contained or reflected in other paragraphs that you mentioned, I think it was reflected in other conversations, other memorandums that you have, one overwhelming feeling that I had, and that was in the assassination of the President of the United States, all of the facts, all of the evidence, everything that was relevant to that had to be made public.
Mr. DODD - You say then, I should quote--in fact, Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent that this memorandum, if it is not already admitted into evidence, be admitted now.
Chairman STOKES - I believe it is already in part of the evidence. Mr. DODD. I think all of it should be there. You say in the first paragraph: It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy's Assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad all that the facts have been told and a statement to this effect be made now. I think that is fine, but still I am perplexed, absolutely perplexed, on why it was in the public interest to prove that Oswald was the one, and that as reflected in the next sentence, did not have confederates who were still at large. Why was it so important to prove that 3 days after the assassination?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Because for the very simple reason, if that was not a fact, and all the facts were not on the table, then it seemed to me that nobody was going to be satisfied, and I thought that the public was entitled--if there was a conspiracy, then we ought to say there was a conspiracy. If there were confederates at large, it ought to be said there were confederates at large. I knew then already that Oswald had been in Russia, Oswald had been in Mexico. Now, if you are going to conclude, as the Bureau was concluding that this was not part of a conspiracy, that there were no confederates, then you had to make that case, with all of the facts, absolutely persuasive. If you didn't reveal these facts, somebody else was going to reveal them. Now, if there was a conspiracy, there was a conspiracy, and you put those facts out. But if you were persuaded Oswald was a lone killer, you had better put all of the facts out and you better not cover up anything, and you better say now all of the facts are going to be made public. That was the advice I was giving Moyers and that was the advice I was giving the President and that was the motivation for the Warren Commission. I don't think this is artistically phrased. Perhaps you have never written anything that you would like to write better afterwards, Congressman, but I have.
Mr. DODD - You won't get me to say that.
Mr. KATZENBACH - But I think if you take that, take the other paragraphs of it, take other things I was quoted as saying, other things I said, that there is a consistent view on my part.
Mr. DODD - I didn't want to pull this out of context. I want to make sure it is all in there. In fairness to you, it should all be in there.
Mr. KATZENBACH - I was very conscious of those facts which were going to be seized upon. Is this a Russian conspiracy? And I was very conscious, perhaps as a little bit of a history buff, that nobody ever put to bed satisfactorily the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Mr. DODD - You seemed in the next paragraph--I quote you again here--you say: Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat--too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, et cetera). 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. Am I off base there in detecting a feeling that you had on November 25, 1963, that there was something more to this, that you felt, in fact, whether intuitively or based on other information, that this guy had been set up, Oswald was not alone? I sense that in that paragraph, reading it word for word, and carefully, that you had some thoughts running through your mind, and you were expressing them to Bill Moyers in those words.
Mr. KATZENBACH - I don't think I had a view one way or the other, other than what I was being told the FBI investigation had, but I was saying you have got a lot of facts here, if you say Oswald was the lone killer, he wasn't in conspiracy with anyone, had nothing to do with any foreign government, you have got a lot of awkward facts that you are going to have to explain, and you had better explain them satisfactorily You had better put it all out on the table.
Chairman STOKES - Time has expired
Mr. DODD - May I have 1 more minute and I will terminate?
Chairman STOKES - Without objection.
Mr. DODD - On page 22, when asked by Mr. Cornwell--I won't read the question to you, but basically he is talking to you about the assassination plots, asking, during the deposition, about the assassination plots, and your response is this: No. In fact, I never believed there were such plots. I testified to this before but I remember at one time they were in the White House at the time of the Dominican upheaval and I remember Lyndon Johnson asking a direct question to Dick Helms about assassination and got a flat denial from Mr. Helms that the CIA had anybody involved. It was a short conversation and you can qualify it any way you want to, but I went home pretty confident. Did you prepare any memorandum at that time, after that conversation, or do you remember that conversation so clearly that you have no doubt in your own mind that Mr. Helms told the President of the United States in 1965 there were no assassination plots?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I remember the conversation. It is hard to remember verbatim word for word. The question may well have been "Have we ever been involved in any assassination of anybody," and the answer to that may have been the flat "no." I don't know, I don't remember exactly how the question was phrased, but it obviously had to do at that time with Vietnam, and I was satisfied from that that we didn't engage in that kind of activity in this country, and I suppose I was satisfied in part, Congressman, because it was so incredible to me that we should have.
Mr. DODD - You didn't take any notes?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I almost never did. I never had time.
Mr. DODD - Thank you, Mr. Katzenbach. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES - Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Sawyer.
Mr. SAWYER - I just have a single question. Mr. Hart, who was a spokesman for CIA here in connection with their having taken into custody for some 3 years Yuri Nosenko, the Russian defector, said that their authority for putting this man in a specially built isolation cell for 3 years, was you, that Helms had gone to you and gotten an OK for this. Is that true?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I have no recollection of any conversation involving Mr. Nosenko with Mr. Helms. There may have been such a conversation. I don't think that I authorized putting anybody in jail for 3 years. I simply have no recollection of any such conversation occurring, but there may have been a conversation about a defector. I don't know.
Mr. SAWYER - But you don't believe that you would have authorized that kind of thing, if you had been asked?
Mr. KATZENBACH - No, I think I would have--I think if somebody said we have a defector, we don't know whether he is a true defector or not, we have got him under some questioning, I wouldn't have--I don't suppose that would have bothered me that much. But when you talk about incarceration for 3 years, and so forth, that seems to me a different proposition. One would expect a defector to be questioned by CIA.
Mr. SAWYER - But not put in solitary for 3 years in a specially constructed vault, in effect?
Mr. KATZENBACH - No. But I would not have been surprised if he had been questioned intensively for a week or two.
Mr. SAWYER - Thank you. That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES - The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Ford.
Mr. FORD - Mr. Chairman, I don't have questions at this time. I yield my time to the Chair.
Chairman STOKES - Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Fithian.
Mr. FITHIAN - I didn't expect Mr. Ford to pass. I don't have my document out here I wanted to talk to you about. It has to do with your views as to how, in keeping with your deposition, you said that we should leave no stone unturned and pursue every possibility, and so on, and particularly with regard to conspiracy. There have been some questions here of the Cuban situation. What I would like to do is ask if you could shed any light as to how you would have advised the FBI to proceed with the alleged connections between Jack Ruby and organized crime?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Well, I think it should have been explored in normal investigative ways, that is, they have some sources they were using and still use, to some extent, electronic devices, in appropriate circumstances, and I would have thought they would have made any effort, every effort that was possible, to see what those connections were, if any. There is certainly a massive amount of data in the FBI with respect to organized crime. There even was at that time. I suspect there is a lot more today.
Mr. FITHIAN - I wonder if we might provide the witness with the February 24 memorandum from Hubert and Griffin to Howard Willens. JFK F-448, I think, is the number. If we could provide that to the witness, I would ask that it be introduced into the record at this time.
Chairman STOKES - Without objection, it might be entered into the record at this time. [The exhibit follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT F-448
Mr. FITHIAN. It is in today's briefing book under exhibit 5. At least that is its number.
Mr. KATZENBACH - Did you want me to read it?
Mr. FITHIAN - If you would just glance over it quickly. As I understand your experience in the Department during Attorney General Kennedy's tenure, you became fairly familiar with the whole effort on organized crime; is that not correct?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Not really terribly familiar, Congressman. That was one of the areas that Robert Kennedy was most interested in himself and, therefore, one of the areas where he had far more extensive knowledge than I. What I usually picked up from him as deputy was the areas where he had less interest, so I was not an expert on organized crime.
Mr. FITHIAN - If you would like, just as we chat back and forth here, to glance over that four or five pages, I think you will find that there are recommendations here from these two junior attorneys on the Warren Commission that at least lead me to believe that they were recommending a much more ambitious program than obviously was pursued and, in fact, if you go to the page 5 with me, paragraph 9, their recommendation is really precise, and it said that Mr. Rankin should address the letter to the chief executive of each of the telephone companies mentioned in paragraph 8, requesting such companies not destroy until June 1, 1964, any records that they may have with respect to telephone services of all subscribers, and so on. If you look above that it is a number of towns. If you look on the back in the document there are a number of names that they suggest that they might pursue, and if you look earlier on in the document you find a suggestion that they survey any telephone within the reach of Jack Ruby. Now, I am not really vitally concerned about this document with this particular witness, Mr. Chairman, but I am interested in what recommendations you would have made to the Bureau to pursue, or either you or the Department would have made to the Bureau, to pursue the possible organized crime complicity in the assassination, and that is the first part of the question. The second part is, isn't it reasonable to expect, given the expertise of Justice in this particular field, that this might be one of the areas that we as a committee could expect the greatest amount of interaction between Justice and the Bureau, given your widespread experience down at Justice in this and the necessity of the two groups really to cooperate? Am I way off on that, Mr. Katzenbach?
Mr. KATZENBACH - No. I don't know how you are using the term Justice on that. I think with respect to the Commission that we felt, in fact, the Commission should have, whatever investigation the Commission wanted should be done and should be performed in accordance with what they wished. I don't recall making any suggestion to the Commission as to what I thought they should go into. Mr. Willins was liaison from the Department, using Department in the narrow sense of the lawyers in the Department. He had considerable experience with organized crime and I would have expected, because of the strange shooting of Oswald by Ruby, and because of allegations of organized crime connections--I would have expected the Commission to go into those to whatever depth they thought appropriate in terms of coming to whatever conclusions they came to. My point is I wouldn't have either interfered or wanted them to interfere or told them what to do.
Mr. FITHIAN - Wouldn't that expectation have been heightened by what Mr. Rankin told us today that is section No. 4 of their investigative plan had to do with the whole conspiracy, did anybody at least assist? Question. I guess what I really want to get to, Mr. Katzenbach, is in light of the FBI's role as really the investigative arm, granted the Commission had some lawyers, but the real investigation was done by the Bureau?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes, sir.
Mr. FITHIAN - And the Bureau under the Justice Department. Are you satisfied---
Mr. KATZENBACH - The Bureau under the Warren Commission, really.
Mr. FITHIAN - All right. Are you satisfied, as you review the case, that the FBI, in assisting the Warren Commission, did an adequate job with regard to the approach to investigating the question of any possible complicity of organized crime via the Jack Ruby link?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I don't really feel in a position to answer that question. You gentlemen could answer that question far better than I because you have gone over all of this to a much greater degree than I have.
Mr. FITHIAN - At any time during the whole Warren Commission existence, did anyone from either the FBI, to your knowledge, or the Warren Commission, come over and sit down with the Organized Crime Section of the Justice Department, or the Attorney General himself, or anybody, you or anyone else, and sort of review the bidding as to the approach that they might use in trying to ferret out any possible association?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I know of no such thing, no such occasion. They certainly did not with me, but Mr. Willins, who was the liaison there, he was a very good lawyer, had a lot of experience in organized crime, and would have been quite competent to have helped to assist them as they wanted in this respect, and I simply have no knowledge as to what conversations he had with the Warren Commission or the staff on that subject, but he was certainly competent to do so.
Mr. FITHIAN - He never made any--
Chairman STOKES - Time has expired.
Mr. FITHIAN - He never made any reports to you?
Mr. KATZENBACH - No. He occasionally told me orally, but it was my view that the Warren Commission was doing this and our job was to do what they wanted done, to give them what support they wanted in the job that they were doing, and not to interfere in any way.
Mr. FITHIAN - And the last question, you never felt that Justice or the FBI ought to go to the Commission and say, "Look, if you are really going to look into the organized crime section, this is the way you want to do it."
Mr. KATZENBACH - No, I don't think any occasion came up where I felt that was appropriate or necessary.
Mr. FITHIAN - Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES - Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Devine.
Mr. DEVINE - Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman STOKES - The time of the gentleman has expired. Mr. Katzenbach, Mr. Sawyer asked you about the decision to sign off for Mr. Nosenko. Can you tell us whom it was that came to you and asked for your permission to begin the interrogation of Nosenko?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I don't recall anybody doing so, Mr. Chairman. I understand that Mr. Helms has said that he had a conversation with me, or recalls that he had a conversation with me on it. I have no recollection of that conversation. But perhaps his recollection is better than mine. I don't know. I don't recall any such conversation.
Chairman STOKES - Was this your testimony, that you don't recall anyone talking to you about it?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes, sir, that is my testimony.
Chairman STOKES - At any time?
Mr. KATZENBACH - At any time.
Chairman STOKES - How did you learn of it?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I learned of it when the gentleman writing a book called me up about 3 or 4 months ago or 6 months ago, and asked me about it. And I said, "Who is Nosenko"?
Chairman STOKES - That would be Mr. Epstein?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Yes, sir, Edward J. Epstein, right. And that was the first that I heard of it, to my recollection.
Chairman STOKES - So then, so that the record is patently clear on this point, during your tenure you knew absolutely nothing at all of this situation?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Nothing that I can recall at this time. It was quite a while ago, but I have absolutely no recollection of Mr. Nosenko or anything to do with him during that period of time.
Chairman STOKES - And while you held the office that you held, were you at any time requested to give your approval to treating any defector in this manner?
Mr. KATZENBACH - No, sir, the only connections that I can recall with the CIA at all fell into two categories: One was when they wished to wiretap or some electronic device to be put within this country they came to me; and the only other thing is whenever they wanted a book suppressed they came to me and I told them not to do it.
Chairman STOKES - Told them what?
Mr. KATZENBACH - Told them not to do it, that there wasn't any way you were going to do it. And those are the only, at least offhand the only--I had very little connection with the CIA when I--none that I recall as deputy, a little bit, I guess at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, and perhaps some at the time of the Cuban prisoner exchange. But I had very little connection with the CIA. And I don't recall, except for those occasions, their ever asking me any legal advice whatsoever, perhaps for good reason.
Chairman STOKES - And you are absolutely certain that you cannot recall any conversation with Mr. Helms about Nosenko?
Mr. KATZENBACH - I am certain that I don't recall it; yes, sir. I can't flatly deny that such a conversation occurred, but I have no recollection of it. It is quite a while ago, and I believe--I believe if it was as dramatic as it was put by Congressman Sawyer, I would remember it. If I was simply informed that somebody was being questioned, there was a potential defector, I might not recall it.
Chairman STOKES - Thank you. Any other questions?
Mr. SAWYER - Yes.
Mr. Katzenbach, I don't know whether you are informed on the details of the situation, but we had testimony by a spokesman for the CIA, so that it is not just a statement of some employee or something, he was designated by the present Director to come here and present the story because he was supposedly the most familiar with it, since he had reviewed it for the CIA. And he stated in substance that Mr. Nosenko was taken into custody in this country by the CIA after defection, or after alleged defection, held in a so-called safe house on a diet of tea and porridge twice a day, was allowed no reading material, the guards were instructed neither to talk to him nor smile at him, he was subjected to 48 hours at a crack interrogation. This being while they built a separate facility somewhere else in the country; namely, a device described by him as a bank vault, and then built a house around the bank vault to put this man in, and then kept him there under equivalent conditions for some 3 years, with that kind of thing, 1,277 days, to be specific. At which point they finally gave up and gave him some emolument and put him on their payroll and let him go. And then they gave, as I questioned on the authority to do a thing like that, did they have any kind of process, and they said other than the fact that Mr. Helms had conferred with you and gotten your OK that this would be legal. And I just found it awfully difficult to believe that. And that is why--and I also don't imagine it would be the kind of thing that you would be asked to OK enough that you wouldn't rather clearly remember the incident, if it had occurred.
Mr. KATZENBACH - If the facts as you have just set them forth to me, Congressman, had ever been made known to me, (A), I would recollect it, I am certain; and I hope to goodness I wouldn't have given the legal advice that it is claimed.
Mr. SAWYER - It makes me feel better about it. Thank you. That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES - The time of the gentleman has expired. Does counsel, Mr. Cornwell, desire to be recognized?
Mr. CORNWELL - I only note, Mr. Chairman, that during the questioning by the committee members there have been various exhibits which have been referred to directly or indirectly. They include exhibits which have been marked for identification as JKF F-462, F-463, F-465, F-466, F-458, F-471, F-472, F-473, and F-448, and I might ask they be placed in the record at this time.
Chairman STOKES - Without objection, they may be entered into the record at this time. [The above mentioned JFK exhibits F-462, F-463, F-465, F-466, F-471, F-472, and F-473, follow:] [JFK exhibits F-448 and F-458 were entered previously.]
JFK EXHIBIT F-462
JFK EXHIBIT F-463
JFK EXHIBIT F-465
JFK EXHIBIT F-466
JFK EXHIBIT F-471
JFK EXHIBIT F-472
JFK EXHIBIT F-473
Mr. CORNWELL. I have nothing further, thank you.
Chairman STOKES - Mr. Katzenbach, as a witness before our committee, you are entitled at the conclusion of your testimony to have 5 minutes in which to make any comment that you so desire relating to testimony before this committee, and I extend to you at this time 5 minutes for that purpose, if you so desire.
Mr. KATZENBACH - I will be very, very brief, Mr. Chairman. I regret that the Warren Commission report was inadequate, if it was inadequate in any respects, and that as a consequence this committee has felt, the Congress has felt through this committee, the necessity to reexamine the assassination. I am sure that you, sir, and all the members regret that equally. I have confidence that what this committee is doing and will do in its report, will reflect the wisdom and integrity of its members.
Chairman STOKES - Thank you very much, and on behalf of the committee, we certainly thank you for your appearance here and for the cooperation you have given this committee and the time you have expended in giving us the benefit of your testimony. Thank you very much.
Mr. KATZENBACH - Thank you.
Chairman STOKES - You are excused. There being nothing further to come before the committee, the committee adjourns until 9 a.m., tomorrow morning.
[Whereupon, at 4:08 p.m., the committee was recessed, to reconvene Friday, September 22, 1978, at 9 a.m.]