Attachment E: Executive Session Testimony of W. David Slawson and Wesley Liebeler.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1977
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE ASSASSINATION
OF JOHN F. KENNEDY OF THE SELECT
COMMITTEE ON ASSASSINATIONS,
The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 2359, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Richardson Preyer (chairman of the subcommittee) president.
Present: Representatives Preyer, dodd, Devine, McKinney, and Fauntroy.
Staff members present: G. Cornwell, E. Berning, M. Wills, L. Wizelman, D. Hardway, M. Mars, R. Genzman, B. Lawson, J. Facter, K. Klein, J. Hess, W. Cross, and G. Robert Blakey.
Mr. PREYER. The committee will come to order. The Chair recognizes Ms. Berning, the clerk of the committee, to read for the record the names of those Members who officially are designated to be on the subcommittee today pursuant to committee rule 312.3.
Ms. BERNING. Mr. Chairman, you and Mr. Dodd are regular Members of the subcommittee. Mr. Stokes will be substituting for Mr. Sawyer. Mr. McKinney will be substituting for Mr. Thone. Mr. Fauntroy will be substituting for Mrs. Burke.
Mr. PREYER. Thank you.
Mr. McKINNEY. Mr. Chairman, i move that we go into executive session for today's hearing and one subsequent day of hearing be hold in executive session since on the basis of information obtained by the committee, the committee believes the evidence or testimony may tend to defame or degrade people, and consequently section 2(K) (5) of rule 11 of the Rules of the House and committee rule 3.3 (5), require such hearings be in executive session.
Mr. PREYER. You have heard the motion. i will ask the clerk to call the roll.
Ms. BERNING. Mr. Preyer.
Mr. PREYER. Aye.
Ms. BERNING. Mr. McKinney.
Mr. McKINNEY. Aye.
Ms. BERNING. Mr. Fauntroy.
Mr. FAUNTROY. Aye.
Ms. BERNING. Mr. Dodd.
Ms. BERNING. Mr. Stokes.
Ms. BERNING. Three ayes.
Mr. PREYER. The motion having carried, this hearing will be in executive session for the remainder of the hearing.
Our first witness today is Mr. Slawson. I will ask Mr. Slawson if he will please come forward to the witness table, if you will be sworn.
Mr. Slawson, did you solemnly swear the evidence you are about to give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes. Mr. PREYER. Thank you, Mr. Slawson. We appreciate very much your being here today.
I understand that a copy of the committee rules have been given to your prior to your appearance here today.
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. PREYER. Before beginning the questioning the Chair will make a brief statement concerning the subjects of the investigation.
House Resolution 222 mandates the committee "To conduct a full and complete investigation and study of the circumstances surrounding the assassination and death of President John F. Kennedy, including determining whether the existing laws of the United States concerning the protection of the President and the investigatory jurisdiction and capability of agencies and departments are adequate in their provisions and whether there was full disclosure of evidence and information among agencies and departments of the U.S. Government, and whether any evidence or information not in possession of an agency or department would have been of assistance in investigating the assassination, and why such information was not provided or collected by that agency or department and to make recommendations to the House if the select committee deems it appropriate for amendment of existing legislation or the enactment of new legislation." Mr. Cornwell, you may now begin your questioning of the witness.
TESTIMONY OF W. DAVID SLAWSON, ASSISTANT COUNSEL, THE
Mr. CORNWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Slawson, basically we would like to ask you questions today concerning your knowledge and perceptions of the workings of the Warren Commission, questions dealing with its organization, the state of mind of the Warren Commission staff attorneys, the nature of any problems which the Warren Commission faced in conducting its investigation and hopefully questions which will perhaps give us an insight into what, if anything, we can contribute to the problems which were faced by you and which have been debated over the years since then. Simply as a matter of background will you first tell the committee prior to your being hired at the Warren Commission what was your professional experience?
Mr. SLAWSON. I was an attorney in private practice in Denver, Colo. That really was the sum of my professional experience at that point
in 1964 when I received the telephone call. I graduated from law school in 1959. I had been in practice that entire time.
Mr. CORNWELL. What had been the nature of your practice?
Mr. SLAWSON. General corporation and business law with an emphasis on antitrust work.
Mr. CORNWELL. Who first contacted you with respect to possible
employment at the Warren commission?
Mr. SLAWSON. I have really forgotten. I think that it was Howard Willens but I did not know him at the time. i was a stranger who telephoned me, to my recollection.
Mr. CORNWELL. If you recall what was the nature of that first conversation?
Mr. SLAWSON. He introduced himself as a staff member of the recently formed Warren Commission and said that I had ben recommended highly to him by Tom Ehrlish, a classmate of mine at Harvard. At the time I think I remember he was a special assistant to George Ball, subsequently went into law school teaching, became a dean at Stanford. In any event he asked me if I would be interested in coming back for 3 to 6 months, I think was the time estimate. I thought I was interested but of course I would have to check it with my employers at the law firm and call him back. I did check with them and they approved of my going. I called him back. As I recollect I was on my way in about 2 days.
Mr. CORNWELL. When did you first begin work at the Commission?
Mr. SLAWSON. This was January. I don't remember the exact date.
Mr. CORNWELL. At the time you considered and ultimately did accept the offer for employment at the Warren Commission what, if anything, did you know about the nature of the investigation at the time?
Mr. SLAWSON. I think just about nothing. I can't remember whether the New York Times published a front page article on the general organization that the Warren Commission contemplated for its staff before i received the call or shortly afterwards. In any event I do remember reading the New York Times article before I got to Washington and thinking on the way which one of the five or six sections I would want to be employed in. as I turned out the first day they offered me was the one I thought I would be most interested in, so that was a very happy coincidence. Mr. CORNWELL. Was there anything in the New York Times article which you can new recall other than a general description of the organization of the staff?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; not that I can recall.
Mr. CORNWELL. Then when you arrived on the job what discussions did you have at that time and with whom concerning the scope of what would be your responsibility?
Mr. SLAWSON. As I recollect, I showed up on the morning at the building that they had set aside for the Warren Commission, reported to J. Lee Rankin, and of course introduced myself to him. He just after a few brief words said that the area of interest that they thought about for me was the foreign area and would I be interested in that. That, as I said earlier, was the one I most wanted to get into and of course I said yes, and there was no further discussion on that.
I can't remember when I learned that my senior lawyer working with me would be William Coleman. I would have been at that time or later. In any event I was assigned to the office, introduced to the other staff members who were there and began working.
Mr. CORNWELL. With respect to statements made to you concerning the fact that you would be working in the foreign area what did they describe to you would be the objective of your work?
Mr. SLAWSON. Two things. The possibility of foreign conspiracy, foreign involvement. I have reread part of my old memos and I notice I used the words "foreign involvement' because it was a broader term. I have forgotten whether that was the way it was first given to me. And second, a simple narrative of everything that Lee Harvey Oswald or anyone else connected with him, like Marina, did while they were abroad.
Mr. CORNWELL. Were there any statements made to you initially concerning the fact that the staff was in any way restricted or confined to anything narrower than the general assignment, that you were to investigate the possibility that the assassination had been related to a foreign conspiracy?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; I don't think so.
Mr. CORNWELL. What was your understanding at this point in time either from statements made to you during the hiring process or from any other source, if there was any, concerning the reasons that the Warren Commission had been formed?
Mr. SLAWSON. I can't remember any particular statements other than those I have just related to you. of course, the whole country knew that it was to investigate the assassination of the President and determine the facts as to what happened and who was responsible so far as we could.
Mr. CORNWELL. To ask the question in reverse, would it be accurate to state that you had been given no specific information and had no impressions concerning the question of why it was that a special Presidential Commission was formed, as possibly contrasted to other alternatives for investigating the same event?
Mr. SLAWSON. I had no special instructions or information on that.
Mr. CORNWELL. What, if anything, can you recall rom, say, the very early staff meetings concerning the objectives of the investigation?
Mr. SLAWSON. The only thing that I can remember other than what I have already told you which was that it was to be as deep and broad an investigation as we felt necessary to ascertain the truth, there was some talk at the beginning within the staff and I believe there were, I can't remember, outside comments--they may have been from newspapers or something, I don't know--to the effect that since Lee Harvey Oswald was obviously a prime suspect and since he was dead and therefore would not be subject to forma trial procedures, that perhaps we should appoint some portion of the staff, or perhaps even the Commission itself, as a defense, in other words, run a mock adversary proceeding at some point. We talked about that possibility at some length and I think very seriously considered it and ultimately decided not to follow it. I can't remember all the reasons why. Part of it was practical, it just did not seem a feasible thing, in effect to have the prosecution and the defense
working together within the same building and using the same investigatory agencies. It just did not seem to be something that would work very will.
Mr. CORNWELL. You mentioned in your answer just then that you had told us that the objective was to state the truth. I believe perhaps in our informal conversations you went into more detail on the subject matter than you have given the committee. What can you recall specifically of such conversations?
Mr. SLAWSON. I think it is hard to remember 13 years ago what the timing of all these things was but among the staff members themselves, like when I talked to Jim Liebeler and Dave Belin and Bert Griffin particularly we would sometimes speculate as to what would happen if we got firm evidence that pointed to some very high official. It sounds perhaps silly in retrospect to say it but there were even rumors at the time, of course, that President Johnson was involved. Of course that would present a kind of frightening prospect because if the President or anyone that high up was indeed involved that clearly were not going to allow someone like us to bring out the truth if they could stop us. The gist of it was that no one questioned the fact that we would still have to bring it out and would do our best to bring out just whatever the truth was. The only question in our mind was if we came upon such evidence that was at all credible how would we be able to protect it and bring it to the proper authorities.
Mr. CORNWELL. Where did such conversations occur when you speculated about the possible repercussions of findings that you might ultimately come across?
Mr. SLAWSON. Mostly at dinner at night. We should typically work late, again I can't remember but I would say 9 or 9:30, and then break for dinner and go to some restaurant nearby together and have drinks and sometimes we would kind of relax at the end of the day there. That would be most of the time.
During the office hours, of course, that kind of speculating wasn't so common. We were each busy with our separate tasks.
Mr. CORNWELL. Were there conversations like that of the possible repercussions from the nature of your investigation which went to matters other than the possible uncovering of evidence that President Johnson could have been involved? Were there other types of things you considered?
Mr. SLAWSON. When I said higher-ups I would include the people high up in the organization, the FBI and CIA tool Everybody was of course a possible suspect. If it had been say, a CIA conspiracy or some group within the CIA, then everything I said about Johnson would apply to them too. Anybody who was ruthless and determined enough to carry out the assassination of their President obviously would not stop at killing somebody else to cover up their tracks.
Mr. CORNWELL. What about the question of whether there was any similar speculation in the field of the possible repercussions in international relations, particularly your field?
Mr. SLAWSON. Well, that reminds me that later on, I think this kind of thing probably came up in the spring of 1964, March, April, around there, my end of the investigation went into following up some possible
leads. I have forgotten their nature but they were very speculative but we ere following them up as best as we could about the anti-Castro Cubans. My interest in that possibility I think was especially strong because it seemed to me on the motivation side to make sense.
My theory was that perhaps, one, the anti-Castro Cubans we knew were very angry with Kennedy because they felt they had been betrayed with the Bay of Pigs. Oswald on the other hand was identified publicly with Castro, he was pro-Castro. so, we felt that if somehow the anti-Castro Cubans could have got Oswald to do it or done it themselves but framed Oswald, either way, somehow put the blame on Oswald, that they would achieve two objectives that they presumably wanted. One was revenge on Kennedy and the second would be to trigger American public opinion strongly against Castro and possibly cause an invasion of Cuba and overthrow of Castro, and of course these people would be able to go back to their homes in Cuba and not have to live under the Castro government. As I say, this made a lot of sense to me and I think it was a hypothesis held in mankind for quite a while trying to see if the facts would fit it. Ultimately they didn't. Mr. CORNWELL. You focused on that area of inquiry and considered the possible motives that would be connected with that group. Did you likewise consider the possible international repercussions of investigations directed in that area?
Mr. SLAWSON. Sure. What you meant by that of course there would be an international repercussion that the United States would invade Cuba bur if it turned out that our investigation showed that Castro was involved, which of course is another line of inquiry we followed through as thoroughly as we could, this would I think probably have triggered at the very least the downfall of the Cuban Government.
I don't think that the American Government would have ever or would today stand by and upon proven charges that their President had been killed at the order of some other government, would just allow it to go by. they would either insist that the people in that government be prosecuted or if they weren't I suppose we would invade. So we thought we might be triggering a war with Cuba. But again that was something that the chips would have to fall where they may.
Mr. CORNWELL. You told us initially in our conversations that possible repercussions of finding evidence of officials of the United States being involved were discussed during conversations among various members of your staff at your level including Redlich and Rankin.
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would that also include the international repercussions you have just told us about?
Mr. SLAWSON. With Redlich, yes. With Rankin also yes but more briefly. Rankin, you remember, was the boss of the whole operation. Consequently I had far fewer informal discussions with him. He was my superior. Also he was married and had his family here and whereas most of the rest of us, I wasn't married at the time and those that were had left their families someplace else, so we spent alot more time together at meals and stuff than with Redlich and Rankin.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did you discuss it with any members outside the staff?
Mr. SLAWSON. No.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did you discuss it with any members of the Warren Commission?
Mr. SLAWSON. That I can't remember. The only one I might have would have been Allen Dulles. Allen Dulles and I became fairly close, I think. He had aged quite a bit by the time he was on the Warren Commission and was also sick. I have forgotten, he had some kind of disease that made one of his legs and foot very painful. So he was not effective sometimes, but when he was he was very smart and I liked him very much. Because of my particular assignment, of course he spent a lot of time with me. We talked informally quite a bit. That may have included, probably did include, these kinds of conversations, but I really don't remember specifically. Mr. CORNWELL. Prior to going to work for the Warren Commission, did you have any experience at all with Federal agencies, any of them?
Mr. SLAWSON. No. Well, if you don't count Army experience. I was in the Army before I went to law school. I spent about a third of my time at a scientific research center.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did you from that or any other source have any initial impressions about the Federal agencies, FBI, CIA, about what their predisposition might be toward this case, about their competency or anything else you can tell us about?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; I don't think I had any predisposition other than the general public awareness of these agencies. I suppose I had a little bit more than the average person's knowledge about the CIA, very slightly. My recollection is that the CIA when I was in college recruited people, I mean they came on, they sent down people who would talk to students just like any other prospective employer. I don't know if they still do that or not. I knew one or two people in the class ahead of me who by all accounts went to work for the CIA, and it was something I briefly considered myself. I decided to go on to graduate school and physics, and I never explored the CIA thing. But they had seemed to hire high-caliber people out of my college. I was favorably disposed there. I understood immediately that part of may assignment would be to suspect everyone. So included in that would be the CIA and FBI.
Mr. CORNWELL. As soon as you began your work, what facts did you uncover which may have given you an indication of the extent to which the Warren Commission could rely on the Federal agencies?
Mr. SLAWSON. As soon as you began your work, what facts did you uncover which may have given you an indication of the extent to which the Warren Commission could rely on the Federal agencies?
Mr. SLAWSON. In general, I think the impression was a good one, the extent to which we could rely. I remember I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of information that every agency was pouring into us. That seemed to me a good sign that everyone was trying their best to give us all the information they could. I also, though, quickly became aware that some agencies, presumably all of them, were anxious not to appear in a bad light at all. Although I don't think that I thought that any of them were actually withholding information from us, I did think that some were trying to put the information they gave us in the best possible light, shading things in their own favor. The State Department and the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, for example, had a whole host of every complicated, legally complicated dealings with Oswald and Marina. It was my job to go back through all that and see whether it had been done properly or whether there may have been some evidence of something improper.
Maybe they let Oswald come back in the country when they shouldn't or something like that. I think there was a lot of typical bureaucratic mixups. It is hard for these people to explain it later; they were embarrassed. I don't think any of it after reflection, I am sure none of it after reflection, showed conspiratorial involvement, but I think it did show a lot of bureaucratic mistakes.
Mr. CORNWELL. After working with the CIA, your impression remains substantially the same; you thought you could trust them and rely on them?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes. I came to know one man particularly will, Raymond Rocca, and I came to like him and trust him both. The only drawback I can think of--not really a drawback, I suppose, for someone in the CIA--is that I thought he was a little overly suspicious. He obviously disliked Castro immensely. He was very emotional on the subject. As I said, I would be surprised if a member of the CIA specializing, as I think he had been in Cuban activities didn't feel that way.
My impression overall was very favorable of him. I thought he was very intelligent and tried in every way to be honest and helpful with me.
Mr. CORNWELL. I assume you relatively quickly after beginning work realized the basic findings, at least in the general sense, that the FBI had reached in a relative short period of time after the assassination. Would you have recognized the possibility then that there was perhaps an agency predisposition to attempt to bolster those findings?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; with the FBI especially, I think. The FBI had prepared a thick file which to their mind disposed of the case, it seemed like. Although my own involvement was not nearly as much with the FBI as it was with the CIA, I nevertheless read the FBI file, which was a good way of getting yourself introduced to the whole general case.
I think it appeared to me, as it did to many people on the staff, to be a competent document. But it was also self-serving, and you could not read that and think that the FBI had ever made any mistakes or there was any serious possibility that they had.
So, we knew that particularly with the FBI, but I just assumed it was the case with anybody, it is human nature, that once having committed themselves on any statement about what happened, they would be defensive about it and not want to admit that they were wrong, and also that they all had a strong interest in not being blamed for not having adequately protected the President. We spent a lot of time--although this was not my particular area--in trying to ascertain whether the Secret Service, the FBI, and CIA in particular but also the State Department and Immigration and Naturalization Service, had done what they should have to see that the President was protected against possible attack and, of course, Oswald in particular. Mr. CORNWELL. I would like to show you what has been marked for identification as exhibit 22, if I might, Mr. Chairman.
Do you recognize that document?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. have you had a chance to review it prior to coming here?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; although not very thoroughly. It turned out to be even longer in detail than I remembered it.
Mr. CORNWELL. For identification, it is a document which initially had a stamped "Top Secret" at the top, which has been crossed out. There is no date on it, and it reads at the top "Introduction." You prepared the document?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; I should add that I did the first draft and Bill Coleman then went over it with me. I don't remember what changes we made together, but we did make some. Then it went into the Commission, presumably through channels, which would be J. Lee Rankin.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would it be fair to state that the memo included the kind of problems you encountered in effecting an investigation of the foreign conspiracy?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Might we introduce the document into the record and then ask the witness some questions about it?
Mr. PREYER. Without objection, exhibit 22 is admitted into the record.
[The document referred to, marked JFK exhibit No. 22 and received for the record, follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT No. 22
One of the basic purposes of the Commission's investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy is to determine whether it was due in whole or in part to a foreign conspiracy. The Investigation conducted by the section of the staff responsible for the foreign aspect of the Commission's work leads to the conclusion that there was no foreign involvement. Nevertheless, there is evidence which points toward a possible conclusion of foreign involvement which we think should be brought to the attention of the Commission for its independent evaluation. The foreign countries most suspected in the public's mind are the Soviet Union and Cuba. The Chinese communists and even Madame Nhu's wing of Vietnam, however, might also be suggested.1 Likewise, the possible involvement of expatriated anti-Castro Cubans, whether resident in the United States or in one of the South or Central American nations, is worth considering.
Firm evidence of a foreign conspiracy is obviously very hard to come by, since there naturally is the greatest attempt by the country involved to prevent discovery. Investigations that are dependent upon information voluntarily furnished by the foreign government involved, such as have already been undertaken with the Soviet Union and Cuba, are obviously not very helpful in uncovering evidence of this type, because the foreign government will try to furnish only that evidence which it believes to be nonincriminating. Nevertheless, even this kind of evidence can be of some use in assessing whether a foreign conspiracy existed. This is because, first, the furnishing of the evidence, despite appearances, is not quite "voluntary." In a case of the magnitude of this one, and in which the widely known facts already disclose important links with the Soviet Union and Cuba, these governments are under considerable pressure to render reasonable cooperation to the Government of the United States. If they do not, they risk having public opinion swing strongly against them and conclude
1 Madame Nhu reportedly sent Mrs. Kennedy a very inconsiderate telegram shortly after the assassination and she has been reported in the public press as stating that the assassination of President Kennedy was only retribution for the killing of her husband, which she claimed was American inspired.
JFK EXHIBIT No. 22 cont.
that they are afraid to cooperate because the evidence will indeed incriminate them. Second, once these governments conclude that they will furnish some evidence to the Commission, the difficulties of falsifying the evidence they give are considerable. They must realize that the Commission already possesses a great deal of data against which the new evidence will be tested, and that the CIA has additional facilities for this purpose which will be placed at the disposal of the Commission. Moreover, if even only a small part of the evidence furnished is found to have been fabricated, the entire body of new evidence will become suspect; and if this should happen, the adverse public opinion effects previously mentioned would again come into play. For these reasons, we have concluded that, on balance, it was worthwhile to ask the governments of the U.S.S.R. and Cuba to furnish the Commission with whatever evidence they could. (It should also be pointed out that there is another reason why the Governments of Russia and Cuba have been asked to furnish evidence. The Commission is primarily interested in ascertaining the truth, not just in "pinning the rap" on someone, and therefore the two foreign governments mentioned must be regarded not only as objects of investigation, but also as parties who have a right to be heard. They therefore should be given basically the same opportunity to present evidence as has been accorded to the hundreds of other individuals and institutions which have come into contact with Lee Harvey Oswald in one way or another.) Obviously, despite the fact that voluntarily obtained evidence is not completely useless even in judging whether a foreign conspiracy is involved, the most valuable evidence for this purpose is that obtained through informers, ordinary witnesses, electronic and mechanical spying devices and other means available to American intelligence and investigatory agencies which are not dependent upon the consent of the government being investigated. The bulk of this memorandum will deal with this kind of evidence. We think this separate memorandum for the Commission and the General Counsel appropriate because the material covered in the final report to the public will necessarily be somewhat more restricted. A good deal of the information contained herein is Secret or Top Secret and therefore cannot be disclosed to the American public at this time. In most instances this is not because of the information itself but because of the necessity of protecting the method or source for obtaining it. In other words, in the final report we can set forth the facts, but we will not be able to demonstrate the reliability (or lack of reliability) of these facts by showing their source. Moreover, in some cases even the information itself must be withheld from the public. for example, the fact that a Russian MVD employee may secretly have tried to warn Oswald not to come to Russia, if disclosed, might result in the employee being severly punished or even executed. Similarly, even disclosing the information gained form certain wiretapping facilities would necessarily disclose the existence of the facilities, where the nature of the information is such that we could not have learned it except through these facilities.
I. Some General Considerations
A. "Foreign Involvement" defined
We have intentionally chosen the words, "foreign involvement," to describe the problems with which we are concerned in this memorandum. The words were chosen because they are extremely broad, covering everything from a comparatively innocent arrangement for propaganda purposes, such as, for example, an agreement whereby Oswald might have served the propaganda purposes of the Castro Government in New Orleans and Dallas in exchange for that government paying his printing expenses plus some small additional compensation, to the most serious kind of conspiratioial connection, as would be the case if a foreign power had ordered Lee Oswald to kill John F. Kennedy. By "foreign involvement," however, we do mean something more concrete than simply emotional or ideological influence. The Commission already possesses evidence, and indeed so does the general public, that Oswald considered himself a Marxist and that he sympathized wholeheartedly with the Castro regime: he openly spread pamphlets in its behalf on the streets of New Orleans and he took its side in radio and television debates. These facts have already been established, and they will be assumed, rather than discussed, in this memorandum. The question to be treated here is whether there was some reasonably close working relationship involving Oswald and a foreign power or at least a group of men based in a foreign country.
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Mr. CORNWELL. First, when was the document written?
Mr. SLAWSON. I can't remember exactly but my guess would be early June but that is just a guess.
Mr. CORNWELL. I might simply note that the document does have X's in it which apparently occurred in connection with declassification of the document. Would it be fair to state that as of June 1964 you had done a considerable amount of work in the area of determining whether there was foreign conspiracy?
On page 1 of the memo you describe the fact that firm evidence of a foreign conspiracy obviously very hard to come by, and go on to note that at least one of the principal investigative avenues would be information acquired from the various foreign countries that might be suspected of being involved and that such information would obviously not be very helpful because a foreign government will try to furnish only that evidence which it believes to be nonincriminating, at least that was a substantial possibility. Is that correct? Mr. SLAWSON. That is correct although I think that the emphasis in the introduction you are quoting from was only explaining why
that kind of evidence could not be relied upon as your primary evidence. We did have other kinds of evidence. I was trying to explain at this point in the memo that we would not be relying upon evidence furnished by the country itself insofar as we could possibly avoid doing so.
Mr. CORNWELL. You go in that vein to note further on page 2 that one way to test the accuracy of the information which would be provided by the foreign government would be through the CIA and its facilities. Is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is correct. Incidentally that reminds me that in response to an earlier question of yours, one way we had of checking the accuracy of information American organizations like the CIA or the FBI was to check them against each other. The jurisdictions of the various investigatory agencies at the time would have fairly firm limits. For example, the CIA would do mostly overseas things, the FBI would do mostly domestic criminal activities. The State Department and Immigration and Naturalization Service had their respective jurisdictions. So, when a person like Oswald or Marina would pass from one jurisdiction to another, come from a foreign country or vice versa, the agencies would pass information back and forth, notifications accompanied by documents. In our getting the records of these in every case possible I would match them up to make sure that the disclosure to the Warren Commission from a particular agency included everything it should, judged by what the other agencies had given us, having heard form that agency in times past.
Mr. McKINNEY. You spoke earlier of their defensiveness of the fact that they might be accused of not having done a good job. Was there any particular conversation or discussion on their defensiveness for not really having told the Secret Service or for just sort of letting the most amazing thing to me. They were tracking him and yet with the President coming into dallas, here is this guy.
Mr. SLAWSON. There was no discussion of that, or rather no aspect of this defensiveness that I could see in the documents that were passed prior to the assassination.
They were all official bureaucratic type documents, very impersonal.
Mr. CORNWELL. There was no suggestion in any of those documents, say from the CIA, when Oswald would come in from a foreign country, that the Secret Service perhaps should watch this guy or the FBI watch him?
Mr. SLAWSON. I can't really remember that, Mr. McKinney, whether there was or not. The usual notification would have no suggestion as to what the agency ought to do at all. I would simply be that "Notification is hereby given that such and such, Lee Harvey Oswald or somebody, had contacted the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, et cetera, and presumably returned to the United States shortly thereafter." Then it would be left up to the FBI to do what they would with that.
Mr. McKINNEY. Thank you very much. Thank you, counsel.
Mr. CORNWELL. In your mind would there have been a particularly severe problem with your area of international conspiracy because of the fact that there was really only one agency, the CIA, that had any access to information which would reveal that?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes. There is really no way I can imagine and certainly there was no way at the time I could imagine that anyone could carry on an investigation of foreign intelligence operations other than through the CIA. That simply is the body of expert opinion on that sort of thing and capability that exists in the United States. So, if a major suspect is the CIA itself in some kind of foreign involvement, it might be, say, taken over or infiltrated by the Cuban or Russian Government, an investigation like the Warren Commission would find it very, very difficult to ascertain that. That is just inevitable. This I think occurred to me at the time too but there wasn't much that could beckon about it.
Let me add there I think there are two major defenses there: One, I think and I still think that the likelihood of any large number of people in a major Government organization trying to kill their own President is very small. I think most people are loyal. The other is that anything that large would almost certainly spill over someplace in the public view. We had all sorts of people of course looking into this. I think the chances of its ever being successfully hidden for a long time were infinitesimally small. Mr. CORNWELL. Nevertheless it was still your impression, I gather from your memo and your previous statements, that here were really only two primary sources of possible information in your field of responsibility, and that is, what a foreign government might supply, which obviously had its drawbacks and what the CIA provided you.
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. Cornwell, remember, I did talk and hear about the questionableness of any information supplied by a foreign government, about the possibility of its being involved, burt we did have information from foreign governments that might lead you to suspect either foreign governments were involved. there is no more reason why that would by suspect than any information generally. For example, we had a communication from the West German Government intelligence service, I remember, which we investigated. As I recollect, if it had worked out, it would have implicated the Soviet Union. There is no reason why we should suspect that. Mr. CORNWELL. Mr. Chairman, may I have an exhibit marked for identification as No. 23. It is a memorandum dated September 6, 1964. I show it to the witness and ask you, mr. Slawson, if you recall that document?
Mr. SLAWSON. I read this last night when your staff supplied it to me. I in a very general way recollect it, that is all.
Mr. CORNWELL. I deals generally with the question of the type of information that had been supplied to the Warren Commission by the CIA. Is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we have this document entered into the record so that we may ask questions concerning it?
Mr. PREYER. Without objection exhibit 23 is entered into the record.
[The document referred to, marked to, marked JFK exhibit No. 23 and re
ceived for the record, follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT No. 23
Mr. CORNWELL. The first two sentences in the memorandum read, "Throughout our investigation the CIA has been sending us memoranda. The CIA made no attempt to withhold any information form the Commission that it believed was pertinent." Not meaning to be facetious but just for clarification, the "it" that is referred to, in other words, "that it believes was pertinent," down that refer to the CIA or to the Commission?
Mr. SLAWSON. I suppose it meant the CIA. I am just trying to interpret my own writing the same as you are but I think that is what I would have meant.
Mr. CORNWELL. The way it reads then in substance is that it was your impression as of September 6, 1964, near the end of the investigation, that the CIA had made no attempt to withhold any information from the Commission that the CIA believed was pertinent?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did the CIA or anyone, say, between the CIA and you ever tell the Warren Commission members about the CIA assassination plots on Castro?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, not to my knowledge.
Mr. CORNWELL. do you believe that would have been pertinent to your work?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. What would you have done in respect your area if you had been proved that information?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is hard to recollect at this point. It certainly would have increased my suspicion of the possibility that the Cuban Government was involved, for obvious reasons. I cannot, however, think of anything that I would have done any differently. The reason for my conclusion is that I think I followed up every lead as thoroughly as I could in any event. I already had reasons of suspecting the Cuban Government as I had reasons for suspecting the anti-Castro Cubans. So I would have been, I think, doing the same things I did with perhaps a greater suspicion in my mind. Nevertheless it was pertinent.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would you have had with that information any cause to request records which you did not otherwise seek?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, not that I can think of. That is a difficult question for me to answer now because I can't remember in any kind of detail at all what my request for records was what records I got.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did you ever seek records concerning the general issue of assassination plots?
Mr. SLAWSON. By the CIA?
Mr. CORNWELL. Against Castro or anyone?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, I can't recollect that I did. Our requests for information form the CIA were rarely specific. The request was made initially that they give us all information in any way pertinent to the assassination investigation. Mr. CORNWELL. Leaving to their discretion the decision as to what was pertinent?
Mr. SLAWSON. Well, I suppose inevitably, yes, because there are mountains of information in the CIA and a request like that has to leave it to some extent to their discretion as to what is pertinent. Anything that came out I would talk to the CIA about it and if I had any specific requests those of course would be forwarded.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would it be fair to state that if you had received that information you at least might have altered your willingness to rely upon their judgments as to what was pertinent?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't know how to answer that. You see, I never received a "no" from the CIA to any request for information. I mean a no in the sense of not a willingness. Lots of times of course they would say "We don't know anything about that" or "We can't find out for you." So I don't think my attitude would have been any different. I would have had a different set of considerations in mind. I probably almost certainly would have talked to them more thoroughly about, well, did castro know the\at you were trying to kill him? And when did he know? Things like that, trying to work out some possible link between Lee Harvey Oswald and Cuba or anybody else who might have been implicated in the killing.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we have a memorandum dated June 4, 1964 form Mr. Slawson to Mr. Rankin marked for identification as exhibit No. 24, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PREYER. All right.
Mr. CORNWELL. You have had a chance to review that prior to coming here?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Do you recall that document?
Mr. SLAWSON. Again in a general way, yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Basically the document concerns a telephone conservation between you and Mr. Rocca of the CIA and among other things discusses the general subject matter of assassination plots of page 2, is that correct?
Mr. CORNWELL. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we have that document entered into the record, Mr. Chairman, so that we may ask the witness specific questions?
Mr. PREYER. Without objection it is so ordered and will be entered into the record.
[The document referred to, marked JFK exhibit No. 24 and received for the record, follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT No. 24
JFK EXHIBIT No. 24 Continued
Mr. CORNWELL. On page 2 the last paragraph reflects that while on the telephone rocca brought up a New York Times article on conspiracy theories contained in the Times of June 1, and made specific reference to a book by a dennis Eisenberg published about 2 months before the assassination and containing an assertion that the right wing element in America were at that time planning the assassination of Kennedy.
The particular part of that paragraph I would like to ask you about is a couple of sentences further down. There it reads that Mr. Rocca drew your attention to the fact that the publishing time of this particular book appears to have been almost exactly when Castro was supposed to have made his remark in the Cuban Embassy in Brazil to the effect that, "two can play at this game." Would it be fair to say that simply on the face of that, one possible inference was that Rocca was deliberately suggesting to your that it was right wing plots to assassinate him that had perhaps come to his attention and prompted his statements about two being able to play at the game? Mr. SLAWSON. I have no such remarks. My only recollection at this time is that Rocca was drawing my attention to the fact that Castro might well have been involved. Of course he had presumably drawn my attention to this before but he was just doing what he did with me a lot, trying to work with me to put two and two together.
Mr. CORNWELL. Specifically with respect to your notation that he draw attention to the coincidence of the dates between this book and Castro's statement, would it have been possible that he was attempting to mislead you and suggest that it was right wing plots as opposed to CIA plots that had prompted castro's statements?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't know. That suspicion I don't think occurred to me at the time. It is hard for me to characterize that now.
Mr. CORNWELL. If you and Mr. Rocca had conversations such as this concerning assassination plots, Castro's statements, can you tell us, based upon your experience there at the time, any reason why the CIA would have withheld from you information concerning their intimate knowledge and association with these plots?
Mr. SLAWSON. Based on my experience at the time why the CIA might have withheld information from me of their involvement in plots against Castro?
Mr. CORNWELL. Yes.
Mr. SLAWSON. If your question is directed toward my putting myself back in 1964, my answer is that I had no inkling that the CIA was involved in those plots and therefore that speculation never entered my mind. If your question is directed toward my thinking now, the answer
would be that, yes, they would have an interest in not disclosing it because they were ashamed of it. They must have felt that it was not a proper thing for them to have done. Otherwise, I don't see why they would not have disclosed it to the members of the Warren Commission.
Of course it would have been highly secret but they disclosed other information to us which they felt was also highly secret. For example, the Nosenko affair was highly secret information. To a limited extent I was given information about sources abroad by sources which were highly secret. I was permitted to follow out that information insofar as I felt I needed to in order to assess the credibility of information obtained. As I say, that was very secret stuff too.
I think the fact that they did not trust us would not have been a reason because they did trust us with highly confidential information.
Mr. CORNWELL. The very last sentence of the memo reads, "According to the Miami newspaper which published this allegation Castro was referring to the Bay of Pigs invasion and subsequent guerrilla activity financed by the CIA which resulted in the death of many Cuban citizens."
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did you discuss in light of that report with Mr. Rocca whether or not the CIA had been involved? Did you ask him for more information?
Mr. SLAWSON. My best recollection at this time is that I did in several conversations with Rocca discuss the CIA involvement in anti-Cuban activities. I was presumably told that they had been involved of course in the bay of Pigs invasion. I remember discussing informally that the involvement with a CIA operative in Mexico City. Also their involvement with anti-Castro Cuban groups in the United States. I don't know how you exactly draw the line between that and an attempt to kill Castro personally. Anyway I never in my own mind crossed over that line and no one ever crossed over it voluntarily in talking to me. Mr. CORNWELL. Were there any other areas that, since termination of your work, have now come to light which you would consider pertinent to the job you had and yet apparently at the time the CIA did not consider pertinent or otherwise withheld?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, I don't think so, except this one.
Mr. McKINNEY. Could I ask a question about the way you were thinking? If you had known then of the attempts by the CIA to encourage people to kill Castro and probably their actual involvement would it not have been a legitimate thought that that might have triggered the assassination of the President?
Mr. SLAWSON. Sure, that would have been the immediate suspicion.
Mr. McKINNEY. And probably the immediate suspicion of may of the other members, not that the CIA did it but they had triggered it by their involvement. So it would really have changed their thinking?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; I think I should have added that. that was involved in what I did say, they were ashamed of it and particularly they might have been very fearful that they would be blamed for the assassination of Kennedy even though they of course had not ordered it but they had triggered it in the sense that they instigated the Cuban Government to do it.
Also, and I don't think I thought of this at the lime, but in retro-
spect an agency that sanctions an attempt to kill somebody else's
head of state is not good position to be outraged when ours
Mr. MCKINNEY. I was going to go there but went there on your own.
Mr. CORNWELL. Do you recall the information that the CIA
provided you concerning Kostikov, the man that, Oswald perhaps
misdescribed in the Russian Embassy?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. An employee of the KGB in Mexico City?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did the possibility that Kostikov was a member of
division 13, among other things apparently at least including
nation, ever came to your attention?
Mr. SLAWSON. My recollection is that I was told that Kostikov
was probably a very, certainly a very high ranking official in the
KGB and perhaps the highest ranking such official in the Western
Hemisphere. I don't remember whether he was placed in any par-
ticular division which would include assassinations or not. But my
recollection is that his job would include that among other things.
In other words, he was high enough up that he might not even have
been within a particular division but had several divisions under his
control insofar as they operated in the Western Hemisphere, the
Western Hemisphere being the northern part of the Western Hemi-
sphere including the Caribbean.
The CIA told me that Mexico City was a kind of spy headquarters
so to speak for lots of countries, like Istanbul used to be in detective
thrillers, the spies always met at Istanbul. Supposedly Mexico City
was somewhat in truth like that in the early 1960's and late 1950's.
Mr. CORNWELL. What was your understanding based on what the
CIA told you at the time concerning the nature of the contacts
between Kostikov and Oswald?
Mr. SLAWSON. This was not a matter of the CIA telling me so
much as it was a prime objective of our joint investigation. Obviously
this was a crucial thing. I mean if we could be certain that we knew
everything that went on between Kostikov and Oswald we could
have disposed one way or another of the Russian involvement it seems
to me, almost certainly. We had some highly reliable sources of
information about what was said. The CIA had some background
information on Kostikov, not a lot.
I mean they had what I just told you about him, and we had
other bits of circumstantial information as to who was probably in
the Russian Embassy on or about the same time as Oswald was. We
tried to put it all together and I worked with the CIA on that. We
came up basically with the conclusions that are in this report includ-
ing parts of the report which are not here which I don't remember
either but there are obviously many, many pages that are out of
this, which presumably had things giving in more detail the back-
ground of my conclusions.
Mr. CORNWELL. As I understand, your best memory is that the
CIA did not mention division 13 in connection with Kostikov?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; that is my recollection. As I say I don't think it
bears the significance of any withholding of information because they
certainly made clear to me that Kostikov was a very important
and that his importance was such that it probably would include
assassinations if any were being carried on through the KGB in this part
of the world and the CIA had taken great care m educating me in the
general technique of the KGB in carrying out foreign assassinations.
I spent a long time studying a file that the CIA gave me on a KGB
foreign assassin who had defected in Western Europe in the 1950's.
I have forgotten his name but the CIA had a big file on him which,
as far as I know, I read everything they gave me, trying to educate
myself on what kind of patterns of conduct to look for, how would the
Russians carry on an assassination abroad, if they had done so here.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention back to exhibit 22, one of
the things which you discuss in there as I understand it is the question
of what type of relationship Oswald may have had with a foreign gov-
ernment. In other words, distinguishing between a relationship which
might have involved the distribution of propaganda, on the other hand
an active role as an assassin for them, that sort of thing. I take it
from that that it would have been deemed relevant by you if you had
received the information, it would have been a relevant fact of his con-
trol or work in division 13, in other words, his relationship to possible
assassination work by the Russian Government. Is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORWELL. I did not see this in the part of the memo, exhibit 22,
but can you tell me whether there exists any indication that Kostikov
had responsibility for assassinations?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; in my reviewing it last night I did not come
across anything of that nature either although I think that the parts
the memo that are shown here do include my statement that he was a
KGB official, KGB employee.
Mr. CORNWELL. We may not have all of your memos but will you
tell us, to the best of your memory did the fact that Kostikov may
have worked with or had responsibility for assassinations appear any-
where in the Warren Commission report?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't remember this either. I think the Warren Commission report does reflect that Kostikov was a KGB employee and I think, but I am not sure at this point, certainly not sure, that the Warren report also reflects the fact that of course the KGB had cartied out assassinations elsewhere in the world. In Western Europe I think we attributed one at least to them. So, to me that presumably was. sufficient.
Mr. CORNWELL. If the possibility that Kostikov was associated with, assassinations appears neither in your memos nor in the Warren Commission report is your memory still the same that the CIA nevertheless gave you that information?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; but I want to repeat myself for emphasis. My recollection or impression of Kostikov was that he was more important than that. He was high enough up so that he was the central director so to speak for KGB activities in the Caribbean area which as I say was a very important area because it was a kind of spy clearinghouse and presumably an assassination clearinghouse too.
The principal objective of my work in Mexico was to find out what had gone on between Oswald and this very important KGB operative. Obviously it was a suspicious circumstance.
Mr. CORNWELL. Mr. Chairman, may we mark two memoranda, dated February 21 and March 27, 1964, for identification as exhibits 25 and 26.
Mr. PREYER. Those documents may be marked for identification.
Mr. SLAWSON. I should add that as far as I was able to ascertain with the help of the CIA the fact that Kostikoy was called down to see Oswald when Oswald showed up at the Russian Embassy was probably not as significant as one might think because apparently he would have been called down to see any out-of-the-ordinary person, anyone that might have intelligence significance, any secret significance to the Russians.
Mr. CORNWELL. If I could direct your attention to exhibits 25 and 26, you have had a chance to review prior to coming here, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Basically both memos refer to a similar subject matter and that is the possibility of obtaining some information concerning Oswald's contact in Mexico City through a man named Al Tarabochia.
Mr. SLAWSON. That is correct.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we enter both of those exhibits in the record so that we may ask the witness specific questions concerning them.
Mr. PREYER. Without objection exhibits 95 and 526 are admitted into the record.
[The documents referred to, marked JFK exhibits 25 and 26 and received for the record, follow:]
JFK EXHIBIT No. 25
[ Memorandum ]
FEBRUARY 21, 1964.
To: Howard Willens.
From: David Slawson.
Subject: The possibility of a new informant in Mexico City.
During the conference in your office on Thursday, February 20, we discussed [he use of sources of information in Mexico City other than the CIA and the FBI. We decided that rather than attempting piecemeal utilization of such other sources, we would first gather information as to the existence of such other sources and then try to use them in a coordinated manner, with full consultation among all the agencies concerned.
I therefore am bringing to your attention the existence of a possible informant for this purpose.
On pages 4-5 of Commission No. 351, which appears to be a portion of a memorandum of a telephone call from Alan Schwartz of the State Department to William McManus, of the Senate Internal Security Committee, it is stated that a man named "AI Tarabochia" claims to have a good contact who has connections at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City. Mr. Tarabochia wants to know if the contact should inquire about Oswald's true purpose while at the Embassy there. The context indicates that this Tarabochia is an anti-Castro Cuban. Otherwise, I know nothing about him. If we want to explore the possibilities of using this informant, we should probably contact Mr. William McManus and get more detail from him. I mentioned all this to you a few days ago, and you told me that you believed our files contained a letter from Senator Eastland or his staff on the general subject. The best efforts of Ruth Shirley have been unable to locate such a letter.
JFK EXHIBIT No. 26
[ Memorandum ]
MARCH 27, 1964.
To: J. Lee Rankin,
From: W. David Slawson.
Subject: Senate Internal Security Subcommittee; Possible Use of Their Mexican Informant.
On Tuesday, March 17, 1964 I called Mr. J.G. Sourwine, counsel for the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. I referred to a memorandum in a file which William McManus, formerly with Mr. Sourwine's staff, had sent to the Commission on January 28, 1964, in which there was a reference to an "Al Tarabochia," a man known to the subcommittee who, in turn, claims to know someone who has access to confidential information about the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City. I told Mr. Sourwine that the Commission would like to utilize this informant and that for this purpose we would like either to be told his name or given other means by which we could make contact with him. Mr. Sourwine asked me why we wanted to use the informant, This question struck me as strange, since the reasons must havebeen obvious, but my reply was that we of course had. knowledge that Oswald had been in Mexico not too long ago before the assassination and that he had made contacts with the Cuban Embassy, so we naturally wanted to find out as much as possible about these contacts. Mr. Sourwine said he would take the matter up with Senator Eastland.
That afternoon Mr. Sourwine called back and asked that I send him copies of the memorandum from Mr. McManus, since he could not find this memorandum in his files. He said he would like the memorandum if possible by the following morning because he was having a conference with Senator Eastland around noon time and could then present the whole problem to him for an early solution. I therefore sent Mr. Sourwine a letter dated March 18, enclosing a copy of the memorandum in question, and had it hand delivered to him on the morning of March 18. I heard nothing further from Mr. Sourwine and therefore I telephoned his office on Thursday morning, March 26. He was not there. He returned my call that afternoon and the conversation went roughly as follows:
He apologized for the delay, saying that he had been unable to reach Senator Eastland about this matter because the Senator had been so busy and sometimes, out of town. However, he had just seen Senator Eastland and their decision was that although they wanted to cooperate in every way with the Commission, they did not feel that they could disclose their informant to us. He said that they would be happy to give us a letter to this effect, signed by the Senator. Mr. Sourwine added that they would be happy to convey to the informant any specific questions we had and convey back his answers to those questions. Mr. Sourwine also added that Mr. Tarabochia's reluctance to disclose the identity of his informant was "understandable." I agreed and said words to the effect, "Am I to understand then, that it is Mr. Tarabochia's reluctance to disclose the identity of the informant which is the basis for Senator Eastland's refusal to do so?" Mr. Sourwine replied, "No; the decision is the Senator's, not Mr. Tarabochia's."
I said that I was not authorized to give a decision at the present time, that the decision on something of this importance would have to be made by Mr. Rankin or the Commission itself. I added that it was my opinion that if we did decide to forward questions through Mr. Sourwine that they would be of the most general nature, rather than specific. Mr. Sourwine replied that general questions might be hard to handle. I asked Mr. Sourwine whether his informant could handle a question such as, "Give us all the information you have on what the Cuban Embassy knows about Oswald, his visits to the Embassy, and anything else which might relate to the assassination of President Kennedy." Mr Sourwine's reply was that although such a question was very broad, it probably could be handled. He then repeated his willingness to give us a signed letter from Senator Eastland. We closed off the conversation by my saying that he should do nothing whatever on this matter until hearing further from me or Mr. Rakin. Mr. Sourwine agreed.
In view of the subcommittee's reluctance to give us direct access to their informant, I recommend that we convey to Mr. Sourwine the very general kind of questions that I mentioned during the telephone conversation and hope that we get as much information as possible from the informant. Forwarding specific
questions to the informant would carry the strong disadvantage of disclosing the informant and to everyone who worked with him, the particular problems that were worrying us and the particular areas in which we felt we were deficient in our knowledge.
Mr. CORNWELL. First, would it be accurate to state that the sub-
stance of the two memos is that the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee contacted the Warren Commission with respect to offering information through an informant?
Mr. SLAWSON. I cannot remember whether they contacted us or whether I came upon the reference in a memorandum--well, it says here in exhibit 25, page 1, "A memo of a telephone call from Abba Schwartz to William McManus." You see, I had copies of every Government agency's memorandum and correspondence of every kind that had anything to do with the assassination. So, the State Department presumably would have sent us a copy of this. So, in going through that I may have noticed the statement and, of course, then wanted to get in touch with this contact, myself. I don't remember how it first came to our attention.
Mr. CORNWELL. Whatever became of the possibility of using this
Mr. SLAWSON. Nothing. The contacts to the best of my recollection were made as stated in these two memorandums. I talked to Mr. Sourwine. I think but I am not sure that I followed up a telephone call with a personal conference with him in his office. But he and Senator Eastland were not willing to give us access to the claimed contact they had, and nothing came of the request that we gave them for information from that.
There was no further communication.
Mr. CORNWELL. What was your final opinion about this incident?
Mr. SLAWSON. My final opinion and to my recollection, it was also J. Lee Rankin's, was that Sourwine and Eastland were trying to use this alleged contact as a way of finding out inside information about the Warren investigation which they could use for their own political purposes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did you discuss the Tarabochia and Sourwine contacts with Rocca or anyone else in the CIA?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't remember the occasion of doing so, but I certainly must have. I would probably have discussed this with both the
CIA and the FBI.
Mr. CORNWELL. What, if any, information did the CIA provide you concerning Tarabochia and Sourwine?
Mr. SLAWSON. I am sure it was to the effect that they didn't know anything about the contacts. That was probably just the end of it. Their standard procedure would be not to make any comment on a Congressman or his motive. They would have said, "We don't how anything about this Tarabochia" and that would have been the end of it.
Mr. CORWELL. In the course of consideration of raids and that sort
of thing in Cuba, did the subject matter of one raid, which I guess is popularly known as the Bavo-Pawley raid, come to your attention?
Mr. SLAWSON. That name does not mean anything to me; no. It does not mean anything to me now.
Mr. CORNWELL. Do you recall whether or not the CIA provided you any information about Tarabochia or Sourwine concerning raids in Cuba?
Mr. SLAWSON. I understood the question as whether the CIA sup-
plied me with any information about raids in Cuba in connection with Sourwine and Tarabochia. My answer is no.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention again to exhibit 22, on page
3 you discuss not only the problem that we asked you questions about earlier, and to what extent you could conduct an effective investiga-
tion, but on the bottom of page 3 you note that there are also problem
with the fact that a good deal of the information cannot be disclosed
to the American public and you note that there are two reasons for
that. One, that much of what CIA might provide could come from
particularly sensitive methods or sources which would be impossible
to disclose; and second, that in fact in some cases the information it-
self could not even be disclosed, and you cite as an example on page
4 the fact that a Russian MVD employee may secretly have tried to
warn Oswald not to Come to Russia, if disclosed, might result in employes being severely punished or executed. Will you provide to
the Committee any examples where those types of considerations ulti-
mately restricted your ability to tell the American public why reached certain findings or to provide it in the information you acquired?
Mr. SLAWSON. I can recollect several situations like that, but to this day some of them, so far as I know, are still sensitive. There was a highly placed source, a source highly placed in a particular foreign government, from which we got information indicating noninvolvement of that government. The information was in the nature of the surprise expressed by members of that government and apparently genuine shock at the news of Kennedy's assassination which would of course tend to show they were not involved. But even to state what that government was and any information in great detail would lead to possible identification of the course because there were only apparently so many people present when these things were observed. So that would be one such situation. Other ones were, while other one I have in mind was similar, we were not able to use other information which again tended to exonerate the government involve because the information was spoken by certain foreign officials time and place where, if they knew we had it, they could tell pretty well how we got it. Then the comment I made right here in the memo on page 4 or someplace further on, about the Russian MVD employee there the reasons would be to avoid retaliation against an individual they might have harmed him and still might. One thing that has bothered me about the public disclosure of some of this information in that these people are presumably still alive in Russia. Mr. CORNWELL. At least there were a number of examples where these kinds of concerns did result in exactly what you predicted, other words, failure to disclose the information to support your conclusion?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. What about the Nosenko example? What were the reasons for ultimately not disclosing the information that Nosenko had provided?
Mr. SLAWSON. There were two basic ones. One, I never did understand thoroughly; but to get to the first one we did not disclose it because it seemed so very self-serving by the Russians, that to even appear
to rely upon it in our conclusion that was basically exonerating the Russian involvement in the assassination we thought would be bad because we in fact were not relying upon it. As I said in the memo, the coincidence was too much, the first major defector in many years should come across after the assassination and have information that tended to show that the Russians were not at all involved. I am still suspicious of it. I still think that Nosenko was probably a plant, which does not go to say it was not true, but it means that you can't rely upon it. The second reason was that the CIA told me and told Bill Coleman, it is my recollection, and other people on the Commission staff, that their procedures to test the authenticity of Nosenko would be compromised if the Russians were to how what Nosenko told us. They said that authenticating and evaluating Nosenko was of extreme importance to them.
He was the most important potential source of information they had obtained in years about the Russians. So, we didn't want to hurt their investigation.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we mark for identification a memorandum dated July 17, 1964, as exhibit 28, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. PREYER. We will mark that for identification.
Mr. CORNWELL. Do you recall that memo, Mr. Slawson?
Mr. SLAWSON. I recall it from reading the file last night. Except in very central way I assume it is the one I wrote. I don't recall any details.
Mr. CORNWELL. I am sorry that I don't have a copy of it here but
apparently there was a memo dated July 15, shortly before this one, from you to Mr. Rankin, explaining a list of your proposed references to what would be quoted as "A confidential Soviet Union source, the reliability of which has not been established." In the foreign conspiracy, in the Russian section of the report, in detailing about five areas which you had planned to discuss and following that memo I take it was the July memo 2 days later, would it be fair to state that at the point in time when this memo was written the Warren Commission was going through the process of determining whether or not they could disclose the information that Nosenko had provided? Mr. SLAWSON. Yes, that would be my recollection.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we have this exhibit admitted as part of the record, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. PREYER. Without objection the exhibit is entered into the record.
[The document referred to, marked JFK exhibit 28 and received for the record, follows:]
JFK EXHIBIT No. 28
JULY 17, 1964.
To: William T. COLEMAN.
From: W. David Slawson.
Attached is Howard Willens' re-draft of our Foreign Conspiracy draft. I have not had time to read it in detail yet, but with a few exceptions he seems to have accepted our arguments and our plan of organization. There are three major exceptions: First, all references to the "secret Soviet Union source" have been omitted. I attended a conference with the CIA on this and now agree that we should not question this source. Willens can fill you in on the reasons why. Indeed, the argument based upon Oswald's being permitted to marry Marina has been omitted because the CIA claims it has information of many cases in which spies were married to nonspies. Third, the argument based upon Oswald's general character and his way of life in the United States has been omitted here and will be reinserted at a point where it will apply to not only the foreign conspiracy, but also the [deleted] conspiracy and a tie-in with Ruby. In case I do not get to talk to you on the telephone before I leave, I have read your Mexican draft. It is very good. If you get a chance, speak to Willens and see whether he wants a xerox copy now or whether he wants to wait for footnoting. I made a very few changes while I was reading it, but have not attempted as yet a real editing job. I am in full agreement with the substance and the conflicting evidence. These, so far as I am concerned, require change.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention to the memo, would it be
fair to state that in the third sentence in the first paragraph we have
a record of the fact that a decision as of July 17 had been made that all
references to the secret Soviet Union source have been omitted, which
then coincides with Mr. Willen's redraft of your foreign conspiracy
draft? In other words is this the point in time when the Warren Com-
mission made the decision not to---
Mr. SLAWSON. I am not sure. There were several levels, of course. This
would be a reflection at this point, July 17, that Howard Willens, who
of course is not the Commission itself, had made this decision tenta-
tively that we were to take out references to a secret Soviet Union
source. This was my reforming Coleman of it but this, like all decisions
of importance, presumably would have gone up. In other words, Willens would have sent in his redraft of the foreign conspiracy portion of the report which I had written with his explanation of any changes. This would have to go to Lee Rankin and Lee Rankin would have made any comments or whatever that he might have had and that in turn might have gone to the full Warren Commission for decision.
Mr. CORNWELL. Then the answer is, ultimately, the initial decision,
which at this point had been made by Mr. Willens, was finally adopted
by the Commission?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Now in addition to the problems we have already,
discussed concerning the sheer difficulty of conducting an investiga-
tion in the foreign conspiracy field and the problems with writing
a final report which could describe fully the results of your investi-
gation, were there any other obstacles in connection with your assign-
ment? For instance, start with the question of time. Was there enough
time to adequately conduct the investigation? Mr. SLAWSON. Yes, there was, although at times I was afraid that
wouldn't be. There was time pressure on all of us. I think that all
members of the staff were bothered and somewhat resented the fact
that we were being pushed to work at such a rapid pace but we
resisted any attempts to make us finish before we felt we were ready
to be finished. When the report came out neither I, and I don't think anybody else, felt that there was anything significant that we had not been able to do in the time.
Mr. CORNWELL. When we discussed the same subject matters informally as I recall you made statements to the general effect that everyone had too much to do.
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CONWELL. Would you explain the sense in which you made the statement?
Mr. SLAWSON. Well, I have since learned I think that this is the nature of any kind of special program. You probably feel overworked yourself in this. But the amount of paper that we had to go through to do our job well was tremendous. I spent I think about the first month simply absorbing information. I don't think I issued a single significant request the first month I was back there. I had so many documents to get through and try to understand and try to put them together. They continued pouring in from the ongoing investigation after that. There weren't that many of us. So we had more than enough to do I would say.
Mr. CORNWELL. One reason I ask the question, if I could direct
your attention again to exhibit 22, at page 7 you discuss the possibility of the Soviet Union having assassins abroad to carry out work for them. Near the bottom of the main paragraph on that page you note that once you accept this fact, the possibility that their network, if it exists, included Lee Harvey Oswald, must be fully explored, indicating that at least at that point you felt additional investigation was warranted. Is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Not necessarily. My recollection is that I was stating here--well, the memo tends to confirm my recollection that I was here speaking of what on page 6 I call the "overall relevance of political
motive" and giving the background to the readers of this memorandum which was the members of the Commission that when I said that must be fully explored I meant that I was going to explore them as fully as I could in this memo and that they as members of the Warren Commission should fully explore them in their own minds in order to come to a conclusion.
In addition, I would have meant that insofar as that exploration on my side was not complete, I was going to continue pursuing it. We did have portions of that kind of exploration which went up almost to the last minute before publication.
Mr. CORNWELL. At least the investigation had not anywhere near been completed at this point, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Not quite, no. I would say a great deal of it had been done. This was written in early June I think. I suppose some thing like two-thirds or three-fourths of this investigation had been completed
by that time.
Mr. CORNWELL. The initial employment arrangement that you described contemplated 3 to 6 months, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. Is it also true that you understood Earl Warren wanted a final draft of everything by June?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes. At one point I remember he was expecting us to be completed by the following Monday, whatever date that would be, some time in June or May. Lee Rankin was on his way home for the weekend and turned to Howard Willens and said, "you had better tell the chief it won't be done next Monday."
Mr. CORNWELL. Do you know what his reaction was?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, except he didn't like it. His main motivation in wanting the work done, and which he repeated several times to different members of the staff, was that he wanted the truth known and stated to the public before the Presidential election of 1964 because he didn't want the assassination in any way to affect the elections. I am not sure at all how he thought it would but he didn't want any possibility of it.
That was his principal reason for having it all finished.
Mr. CORNWELL. Whom did you get this information from?
Mr. SLAWSON. About Warren?
Mr. CORNWELL. Yes, sir.
Mr. SLAWSON. From my recollection right from the Chief Justice himself. He did not deal with us on an individual basis frequently but enough so that everybody I think who had a significant role on the staff had conferences with Earl Warren.
Mr. CORNWELL. Again with respect to the same memorandum, exhibit 22, the very last page of it concludes that, "The facts that we already know are certainly sufficient to warrant additional investigation," again in the same context, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes. Let me back up and see what this was in connection with. This is the anti-Castro Cuban movement I am commenting on, yes. We had done a good deal of investigation by this time but on that one we were still going forward insofar as we could.
Mr. CORNWELL. So, the investigation in fact as you suggested was
not complete by June and in fact it continued throughout the summer,
is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. Sylvia Odio, one of the more publicized issues in the
last 15 years, was interviewed in July after you wrote this memo. Isn't that accurate?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. In fact, as I recall, you had some information about the investigation in your field, even going up to within 36 hours the publication date of the report, isn't that accurate?
Mr. SLAWSON. Thirty-six or 72 or something. It was a matter of
fractions of a day. That is correct.
Mr. CORNWELL. Will you tell the committee what that incident
Mr. SLAWSON. That is another one that I cannot get into detail but
we had--well, to go back to the beginning, as I said earlier, a major part of our investigation into the Mexico trip by Oswald was as to what transpired between him and Kostikov at the Russian Embassy and what transpired between him and the people he spoke to in the Cuban Embassy, I can't pronounce the name, Asque or somebody the Cuban Embassy that he apparently spoke to and also Sylvia. Turado de Duran.
This information we had and were able to obtain by further in-
vestigation led us to the conclusion that if Oswald had done only
what he apparently had done at the Cuban Embassy, which was to
apply for an intransit visa to Cuba so that he could visit Cuba in
transit to the Soviet Union, that certain kinds of documents would
have been made out that would have borne certain people's signatures
We did not have those documents. We thought if we could get them or copies of them and if we could authenticate them that would be good evidence that in fact Oswald's contact with the Cuban Embassy was indeed innocent as far as the assassination is concerned. It did concern these other things. So, some time in the spring of 1964 we put through a request to the Swiss Government which had diplomatic relations with Cuba for all the Cuban documents relating to Oswald although I don't think we named anyone in particular. Eventually copies did come back but they did not get back to us until fairly late in the summer. My recollection is that the reason was that there was a lot of friction between Castro and us at that time. I think they turned off the water at Guantanamo Naval Base or something like that and they were not in the mood to cooperate.
Nevertheless, they finally got them through the Swiss. When they came in, although they appeared to be authentic I would like to have had some additional information as to whether certain peoples' signatures were really their signatures. I told this to the CIA, probably to Rocca, I can't remember who exactly. He said, "Well, we may be able to get that for you. We will try." They did finally get it within a fraction of a day or so before publication deadline.
I was able to say in the Warren report then that this particular bit of information had been reasonably well authenticated but without saying how it was.
Mr. CORNWELL. This particular routine was very important to you, was it not?
Mr. SLAWSON. The working out of what Oswald had done in Mexico
and trying to authenticate as far as we could?
Mr. CORNWELL. Yes.
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. In fact when you first were telling me earlier when you first focused on that issue there were conversations concerning whether or not you would be permitted to go forward with the investigation in that area, isn't that true?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes. The request to the Castro government, request to the Cuban Government through the Swiss went up through channels to Earl Warren and his first response was no. The reason he gave was that he did not want to rely upon any information from a government which was itself one of the principal suspects.
The CIA and I nevertheless came to the conclusion that any information that we could get we ought to get. We would worry about trying to authenticate it after we got it. As I told you, I simply disobeyed orders and went ahead and made the request through the State Department--it had to come from Dean Rusk, I remember we got his signature--to the Swiss Government and we got the information. Then of course I had to tell the Chief Justice that we got it and I pretended
that I had misunderstood his previous statement. I think that is the
only time I disobeyed orders.
Mr. CORNWELL. It was not only his first impression, it was his only
impression that you should not have pursued this particular information?
Mr. SLAWSON. Once we got the information he was angry and said something to the effect "I thought I told you we didn't want it." I said,
"I am sorry, I didn't understand it that way. But he accepted the fact that we had it. I would never have thought he wouldn't. He did not make any attempt to suppress it.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would it be fair to state then that this particular transaction was a matter that you felt strongly enough about to in fact, disobey Earl Warren's orders and pursued and finally the information came in within hours before the final publication on September 28 the report.
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Were there any other areas like this where maybe, you just didn't make the deadline, you wanted to very badly to investigate, and you were not able to get within hours of the final publication?
Mr. SLAWSON. No.
Mr. CORNWELL. With respect to the question of whether or not the investigation was adequate, would you tell us what the composition of the staff was, the Warren Commission staff, and whether or not there were enough lawyers whether or not they all produced?
Mr. SLAWSON. As I said before, I felt overworked and I think many of the staff members felt the same way. I think that the main problem was one of the great underestimations of the size of the task at the time. As I said, we were told, we were telephoned and asked to come in, it would be 3 to 6 months. It is my recollection they said it would be only 3 to 6 months on the outside and of course we ended up taking about 8.
There was a reluctance, once we were there, to admit--again this is
a matter of once you have made a decision you don't like to admit you
were wrong but people did not like to admit that we probably needed
more help and more time.
The following incidents will illustrate this. When we first got there
it turned out the secretarial help we had was mostly incompetent. Also
we had one fewer typewriter for our own use than there were staff
members. That struck a lot of people as silly. In any event I made a
complaint. We eventually got enough typewriters.
Several of us complained about the secretarial help. I was in Lee Rankin's office talking to him at the time. He had previously put
through a call to McGeorge Bundy at the White House and Bundy's
call back came while I was there. Bundy said "What do you want."
Lee Rankin told him about the secretaries. Bundy said, "Just hold."
Apparently picked up another phone and called the Defense Depart-
ment and he got back on the line, "I just told the Defense Department
to have--I have forgotten the number--but 20 of the best secretaries
over there tomorrow morning," and they did. From that point on we
had good secretaries. But it took, you know, pressure that high up
to get us the resources we needed.
There were things all along the line we had to complain we want
more of this or we want something done here and there.
Mr. CORNWELL. With respect to the investigation of the basic number of people who did the investigation for the Warren Commission, was there anybody besides lawyers there to do the work. Did you have any investigative staff?
Mr. SLAWSON. We had special people assigned from CIA, FBI, and Secret Service who were with us more or less full time, especially the Secret Service who were investigators. I think that time of the areas
of investigation such as that headed by Dave Belin, which was the immediate circumstances of the shooting in Dallas employed private investigators at various points to crosscheck and give an independent evaluation.
In other words, people who were not themselves FBI agents.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did Dave Belin employ those people?
Mr. SLAWSON. Not with his own money but he chose them. He and Bill Ball worked together had chosen them. In my area we did not because of the difficulties, as I told you earlier. There is no place in the world you can go and buy a spy investigator.
Mr. CORNWELL. Were there any problems with the selection of senior lawyers?
Mr. SLAWSON. I am not quite sure of the thrust of your question. I of
course was not privy to the selection of staff counsel. I was one of those who was selected.
Mr. CORNWELL. I mean who did not do the work?
Mr. SLAWSON. A few did not. The majority of them did and I think contributed very valuably, they did not, with a couple of exceptions, spend as much time as the younger men did, especially as the investigation wore on. Some of them I understand were hired with the promise that only a few weeks work would be required of them. Of course that turned out not to be the case.
Bill Coleman, who was the one I worked most closely with, I have forgotten the exact amount but it was in the week was all that he was
told he had to contribute. He ended up contributing much, much more than that. Even then in the middle part of the investigation he was coming down only 1 day a week. But then toward the end he came down again and stayed for a long period of the. Of course in the beginning he stayed permanent time.
Mr. McKINNEY. May I ask a question here. As the investigation went on, at the dinners among senior counsel or anyone else did you ever discuss or feel uncomfortable about your tremendous dependence on existing governmental agencies? You were really sort of processing papers, did that bother you?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes, it did. We would talk about how we might escape from the dependency. Apart from the things that I have already mentioned in three different categories, one was occasionally hiring an outside expert to give an independent evaluation or assessment something. I was not able to do it in my particular area but Dave Berlin, for example, did do it.
Second was cross-checking the papers passing back and forth be-
tween the jurisdictions.
The third would be just keeping an eye and ear out for any odd bit
of information that would come m not through the agencies.
Mr. McKINNEY. The CIA had been somewhat discredited by the time this investigation started by a sort of bumbling with the Bay of
Pigs. It seems to me there was a large question of their intelligence gathering capability after that particular diasaster. We also had the Cuban missile crisis and so forth. There was a very strong cry in Washington that perhaps our intelligence gathering forces were not as good as they should be.
I wonder if this disturbed you any?
Mr. SLAWSON. My recollection is that it did not. I did not view the Bay of Pigs as reflecting so badly upon the CIA's intelligence gathering operations as it did upon their judgment as to what kind of operation might be successful.
Mr. McKINNEY. That is a fine line you are drawing.
Mr. SLAWSON. It is. I will admit it is. To illustrate what I mean, not to tell you that I am right, I think there is no question but that had President Kennedy been willing to back up an invasion of Cuba, then
of course we were much stronger than Cuba, we could have toppled the Cuban Government. The bad judgment came in thinking that the United States would be willing to go that far overtly.
Mr. McKINNEY. One last question. We have since learned that an organization which I find hard to pin down, called Army Intelligence, had its muddy little fingers in a great many things from inside, actually spying on American citizens within the continental borders of this country as well as being involved in covert and overt activities outside. Has Army Intelligence ever been contacted by the Warren Commission?
Mr. SLAWSON. My recollection would be yes because we contacted every armed service and that would include specifically their intelligence operations.
Mr. McKINNEY. Did they ever admit to any Cuban activities that you know of?
Mr. SLAWSON. Not that I remember, no. My recollection of the Army Intelligence--I think it was called Army Security Agency in those days--was that we got information from them about Oswald's record and activities in the Marine Corps.
I take that back, it could not have been Army Security. It could have been Navy Security. In any event it was an Armed Forces security.
Mr. McKINNEY. But not on the subject matter of Cuba?
Mr. SLAWSON. Not to my recollection, no.
Mr. CORNWELL. I have a couple of additional areas but would the
committee like to ask questions on what we have been over so far?
Mr. PREYER. I might ask one or two questions.
Incidentally, Mr. Slawson, I see among your qualifications that you are a summa cum laude from Amherst, magna cure laude from. Harvard Law School, which should impress a Yale man like Mr. Kinney here.
You mentioned that you spent a considerable amount of time with
Mr. Dulles and that you worked with him. Of course he was one
member of the Commission that had more expertise in this area.
What was the nature of your meetings with him? Did you have any
of these informal late evening sessions after dinner and a few drinks
and talk about the state of the world as you mentioned you had with
the other lawyers?
Mr. SLAWSON. No. The discussions were some of them informal but they all occurred right in my office at the Warren Coramission build-
ing and during the afternoon or morning. He, as I mentioned, was
somewhat a sick person at the time. I don't recollect his ever being
there past 6 or 7 o'clock in the evering, something like that. He
would become too tired generally to stay on any longer.
Mr. PREYER. Do you happen to know whether he was able to attend most of the Warren Commission meetings or not? Did his illness prevent him from being active on the Commission?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, I think his illness did not prevent him. In fact, I think the record will show that he probably had the best attendance record of anyone. We had a rule that testimony that was to be presented to the Commission, as opposed to testimony just to a staff member, could only be given if at least one Commission member was present. Of course there had to be someone there. I think more of those sessions that member was Allen Dulles than anybody else.
Mr. PREYER. Did you talk over with him your theory or the hypothetical example of the anti-Castro Cuban involvement in the assassination?
Mr. SLAWSON. Presumably I did, yes. I don't remember the exact conversations but that would have been the kind of things I talked over with him.
Mr. PREYER. Did he ever at any time during those conversations mention anything about the assassination plots on Castro that the CIA was undertaking?
Mr. SLAWSON. No.
Mr. PREYER. He had been a Director of the CIA of course. Do you know when he was last Director of the CIA?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, I don't. I believe he was the immediate past Director at the time but I am not even sure of that.
Mr. PREYER. Perhaps you are going to get into this area, Mr. Cornwell. I want to get the witness' view about the possibility of Oswald being an FBI informant. Are you planning to go into that?
Mr. CORNWELL. You can go right ahead if you would like.
Mr. PREYER. Since you dealt with Oswald's actions in Russia I would just like to get your views on the possibility of his being an FBI informant. He did seem to be able, he and his wife, to move back and forth in Russia with a minimum of bureaucratic delay in getting passports and that sort of thing. I wondered if you looked into that or had any suspicions in that area or came to any conclusions in that area?
Mr. SLAWSON. I did look into the possibility that his moving into Russia, getting a passport to travel abroad and his coming back out of Russia with Marina when he decided to come back to the United States, had been suspiciously quick or anything else suspicious about how they were handled and ultimately concluded that they were not suspicious, that the obtaining of the passport in particular to go abroad was well within the normal time for obtaining a passport from the place he obtained it which I think was New Orleans. All these places are foggy in my mind now. In any event, we got the statement of procedures from the particular Passport office concerned and also from Washington passport office. We followed up the timing. We did not just accept the State Depart-
ment's word but we got a list of how long it had taken other people, just a random selection of citizens, about the same time for the same passport application, places to get their passports, and compared them, and his obtaining his, as I said, was just routine in terms of time.
Coming back, it was more difficult to assess whether there was anything improperly quick or otherwise improper about Oswald's return because there you are not dealing with a routine thing. Of course it is not routine for someone to defect and then come back from the Soviet Union.
Nevertheless, my recollection was that there had been something like 20 people that that had happened to, a surprising number at the time.
Insofar as I could, I studied all those other cases to make comparisons. The conclusion there was that there was nothing odd about the Oswald case. As I say, that is a soft conclusion because they were all unique cases in a sense. You could not make any statistical study out of the 20.
Mr. PREYER. I have just one other question. Do you know at this time whether or not Raymond Rocca knew of the assassination plot against Castro at the time you were dealing with him?
Mr. SLAWSON. I certainly did not know at the time because I did not know there were such plots. Even to this day I don't know whether he did know. I either read or had someone tell me, and I can't remember which, in the last couple of years that in their opinion, Rocca did not know it, that the CIA had deliberately chosen people to work with the Warren Commission staff who were not aware of these plots in order that they could pick people who could be sincerely ignorant of it.
Mr. PREYER. Thank you. I have no further questions.
Mr. DEVINE. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PREVER. Any further questions, Mr. McKinney?
Mr. McKINNEY. No, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PREYER. Mr. Cornwell, how much longer do you think you will need to question the witness? The question is whether we should recess for lunch at this time or try to finish?
Mr. CORNWELL. I would say at least 30 minutes, perhaps a little longer.
Mr. PREYER. Perhaps we had better break for lunch and resume at o'clock. Will that be all right, Mr. Slawson?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; that will be OK. I have plane reservations at 5:30.
Mr. CORNWELL. Which airport?
Mr. SLAWSON. Dulles.
Mr. PREYER. I don't anticipate there will be any problem making that plane.
Mr. CORNWELL. Not for Mr. Slawson. There are two witnesses from California today ,both of whom are trying to catch that same plane. For Mr. Slawson at least there is no problem.
Mr. PREYER. We will recess until 1:30 today.
[Whereupon, at 12:10 p.m., the subcommittee was recessed until
Staff members present: G. Robert Blakey, G. Cornwell, W. Wizel-
man, D. Hardman, R. Genzman, E. Berning, M. Wills, W. Cross, J. Facter, J. Wolf, K. Klein, and L. Matthews.
Mr. PREYER. The Chair recognizes Mr. Cornwell.
TESTIMONY OF W. DAVID SLAWSON RESUMED
Mr. CORNWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Slawson, we have discussed up to this point many of the papers that you wrote while you were a Warren Commission staff attorney and the problems that you faced which in large part are reflected on the face of these memoranda.
What happened to the fruits of your investigation and particularly the fruits as they were reflected in such memoranda at the time that the final Warren Commission report was written?
Mr. SLAWSON. To the best of my knowledge, I never destroyed anything and they were left either in my desk or in files at the Warren Commission building and were subsequently put in some kind of security classification and sent off to the Archives.
Mr. CORNWELL. What I really had in mind, although I appreciate the answer, was what transition occurred in putting the results of your investigation into a final report, the public report?
Mr. SLAWSON. My recollection of that, and the memos that I have refreshed my recollection on tend to confirm this, is that Bill Coleman and I handed in our reports to Howard Willens, not reports but our drafts for inclusion in the Warren report to Howard Willens, and Howard redrafted to some extent, made comments and would send us back a copy. We would either approve or state our objections. Then when we reached agreement, it would go from Howard to J. Lee Rankin and from him, usually with very little further change, to the Commission itself. But this whole process took considerably more than a month toward the end and the Commission might frequently send things back for redrafting or shortening or more elaboration and so on. Of course it was their job to put the whole report together in a meaningful and clear fashion.
In other words, we might see something again or it might come down and somebody else would be given the task of putting it together with two or three other staff members' input.
Mr. CORNWELL. I would like to ask you some questions about what type of changes, if any, were made in the rewrite processes. Perhaps, again because there has been some period of time, we might proceed to do that by looking at your papers and, if you would, let us begin looking at exhibit 22 which is basically a large document.
For purposes of comparison, I will hand you a copy of the Warren Commission report so that we will know what page we are talking to. It is the official version as opposed to the McGraw-Hill publication. I believe the only changes are in page numbering between those two versions. As a reference we will refer to that one and those pages in the official report.
With respect to pages 1 and 2 of your memo, page 1 is the concept that: "Firm evidence of foreign conspiracy is obviously very hard to come by", the kind of concepts you discussed earlier. The concept page 2 that one method which you could use was the CIA but in essence there weren't really too many additional sources for comparison of what you got from foreign governments other than the CIA.
I would like to ask you to compare those concepts with what appears in the Warren Commission report at page 243, which would be 225 in the McGraw-Hill publication. Near the top of that page we of course do find the statement in the first full--I am looking at the McGrawHill version, it is at the top of my page statement that "The Commission faced substantial difficulties in determininng whether anyone conspired with or assisted the person who committed the assassination."
However, on the following page the concept is somewhat different
or at least I ask you whether or not it is.
Mr. SLAWSON. Which part?
Mr. CORNWELL. Pages 244 and 245 of the official version.
Mr. SLAWSON. At the very bottom of 244 "In considering the question of foreign involvement"?
Mr. CORNWELL. Yes, sir. The language:
In considering the question of foreign involvement, the Commission has received valuable assistance from the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other Federal agencies with special competence in the field of foreign investigation.
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Taking those passages, would it be fair to state that the nature of the difficulties that you faced in the foreign investigative field were substantially minimized by comparison in the Warren Commission report from the way you described them in your internal memos?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; I don't think they were minimized. I think the right words would be just simply "not discussed." The report, as read it, is giving a kind of "thank you" to these various agencies their help and then just saying we are not going to disclose anything that is from a confidential source of information, but aside from that, the Commission will disclose everything that it relied upon, and I think that needs to be emphasized, that Earl Warren in particular tried to be scrupulously honest that way. He would not in his own mind and in the deliberations of the Commission that I heard about, rely on anything that he felt he could not disclose to the public, for example, the Nosenko stuff.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention to page 374 which is page 350 in the McGraw-Hill version, the concluding paragraph reads:
Based upon the investigation reviewed in this chapter, the Commission concluded that there is no credible evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. Examination of the facts of the assassination itself revealed no indication that Oswald was aided in the planning or execution of his scheme. Review of Oswald's life and activities since 1959, although productive in illuminating the character of Lee Harvey Oswald (which is discussed in the next chapter), did not produce any meaningful evidence of a conspiracy. The Commission discovered no evidence that the Soviet Union or Cuba were involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. Nor did the Commission's investigation of Jack Ruby produce any grounds for believing that Ruby's killing of Oswald was part of the conspiracy.
Would you agree with that?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL, It states the conclusion with considerably less doubt than the view that you expressed in your memos.
Mr. SLAWSON. There is an emphasis gained in the official report by repetition. This goes on and on essentially saying everything in the
first sentence and then repeating it in detail thereafter and that makes
it sound more positive than it would otherwise literally be.
No; I think I agree that this is accurate in that I, too, concluded that there was no credible evidence. In other words, there is lots of evidence we count as evidence, as we had to in the processes of investigation, everything that came in that if true would point toward a conspiracy. But our investigation in no case has led to the conclusion that that evidence was accurate. So, I think the flat statement there was no credible evidence is absolutely accurate.
Mr. CORNWELL. The first statement then in your view, "no credible
evidence" is accurate. What about the remaining repetitious con-
cepts, "no indication"?
Mr. SLAWSON. Literally of course that is not true. There was some
indication. I would read that as implicit in the word "credible," there
is no credible indication.
Mr. CORNWELL. The next concept, "no evidence," in the concept of
that, "nor any grounds, in the final statement, "no evidence" again.
As repeated the sentence would be a slight overstatement?
Mr. SLAWSON. I would put it differently. If you interpret the word
"evidence" as meaning something that points toward the involvement
of these people, if you conclude that the thing is true, then of course
these statements are flatly wrong. It all has to go back to the credibility of the weight of the evidence.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention to page 98 of the large doc-
ument, exhibit 22, I would like you to compare the language at the top:
Unfortunately, however, although the means of investigation at our disposal in Mexico have in our opinion been stretched to the utmost, there still remain gaps in our knowledge of what Oswald did while he was there.
The paragraph concludes:
The final answer to the meaning of the Mexico trip therefore will probably never be given.
I would like you to compare that language, if you would, to the
report at page 305, which is page 282 in the McGraw-Hill version.
Mr. SLAWSON. 305 in my version?
Mr. CORNWELL. 305. Particularly the language that--
The investigation of the Commission has produced considerable testimonial and documentary evidence establishing the precise time of Oswald's Journey, his means of transportation, the hotel at which he stayed in Mexico, and a restaurant at which he often ate. All known persons whom Oswald may have met while in Mexico, including passengers on the buses he rode, and the employees and guests of the hotel where he stayed, were interviewed. No credible witness has been located who saw Oswald with any unidentified person while in Mexico City.
There is perhaps no flat statement that there were no gaps, as you indicated in your memo and your knowledge of that trip, but there is no statement--
Mr. SLAWSON. There I would have to say, I would not have written the report that way, frankly. I think it would have been better to make
frank recognition that we could not account for every hour of Oswald's time by any means in Mexico.
Mr. CORNWELL. On the same subject, if I could, I would like you to compare your perhaps more candid statement that "the final answer to the meaning of the Mexican trip will probably never be given", with the language in the final Warren Commission report which appeared on page 299 of the official version and 279 of the McGraw-Hill version, or 278 and 9 which reflects:
The Commission undertook an intensive investigation to determine Oswald's purpose and activities on his Journey, with specific reference to reports that Oswald was an agent of the Cuban or Soviet Governments. As a result of its investigation, the Commission believes it has been able to reconstruct and explain most of Oswald's actions during this time.
That again at least in tone is different from your concept of the evidence in that field, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; in tone. I don't feel as strongly about this one as did the one before. The statement in the report "as a result of this investigation, the Commission believes that it has been able to reconstruct and explain most of Oswald's actions during the time," if you mean "most" in terms of most of the time that is wrong. If you mean most in terms of probable actions, I think we did. Although that is somewhat question begging because you never know what is significant unless you know what it is. Mr. CORNWELL. With respect to page 83 of your original memo, there you discuss the meaning of Oswald's letter to the Russian Embassy. Your characterization of it near the bottom of page 83 is that "the letter undoubtedly constitutes a disturbing bit of evidence and will probably never be fully explained." Then you conclude by stating that "We think that the letter constitutes no more than a desperate, somewhat illiterate and deranged attempt to facilitate his family's return to the Soviet Russia." I would like you to compare that with page 287 of the McGraw-Hill reprint or page 310 of the official version, particularly the last half
of the paragraph concerning what Marina Oswald could add to that problem, which concludes by stating." * * * it becomes apparent that Oswald was intentionally beclouding the true state of affairs in order to make his trip to Mexico sound as mysterious and important as possible."
In other words, the language "It becomes apparent," or let me ask
you, would that be different from your concept that the import of this
letter probably never will be fully explained?
Mr. SLAWSON. Again, I would not have chosen the word "apparent."
I would have nut in there "probable." I think that is in effect my conclusion but I wouldn't have stated it that strongly.
I think some place in my memo I make a statement to that effect.
I think I used the word "obfuscate." Anyway it is the same thing.
Mr. CORNWELL. I would like to ask you to look at the concept at the
bottom of page 3 and top of page 4 of your main memo, exhibit 22,
and also perhaps in the same light, the memo of yours which we have
had admitted as exhibit 28 which discusses in the first instance gen-
erally the problems with reporting everything you had learned in the
final report and in the second instance. exhibit 28, if you could look at that, a particular application of that principle.
Mr. SLAWSON. You mean references to the secret Soviet Union source having been omitted?
Mr. CORNWELL. Yes, sir. If you would, compare the problem which
you have discussed facing, and the need in some instances to withhold
information because the very information could perhaps give away
sources and methods, with the language on page 945 of the official
version of the Warren Commission report which appears at page 226
of the McGraw-Hill reprint. Does it not state there that "the Commis-
sion has concluded in this report all information furnished by these
agencies which the Commission relied on in coming to its conclusions
or which tended to contradict those conclusions." Then in fact clarify-
ing that in the next sentence by stating, "Confidential sources of information as contrasted with the information, itself, have in relatively few instances been withheld.
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; it conflicts in a way, but I think what the writer
in the official report is trying to say is although in some instances there was information as opposed to just sources of information, but actual substantial information which was not disclosed, the Commission was able to come to its conclusions without relying upon that. My recollection is that Earl Warren tried very hard to do that.
There were very few things that couldn't be disclosed of a substan-
tive nature. Nosenko's statement, the only one I can think of offhand
and the "information from a highly placed source in a foreign govern-
ment" that I referred to this morning in my testimony, for example,
tended to support the conclusions, not to contradict them, the con-
clusions in the report. Therefore the Commission in the report is being
truthful when it says that it has concluded all information furnished
by those agencies which the Commission relied upon to make its con-
clusions or which tended to contradict those conclusions.
In other words, it did not have to include the information from
highly placed source in the foreign government, for example, because
it did not contradict the conclusions here.
Mr. CORNWELL. If I could direct your attention to page 98 of exhibit
22, between 98 and 102, you discuss information concerning the testi-
mony by Mr. Pedro Guiterrez Valencia which in pertinent part con-
cerns the possible payment of sums of money to Oswald in Mexico
City which he says he observed. Is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would you compare your discussion of Mr. Guiterrez
Valencia's observations as set forth in that memo with page 659 of the
official version or page 588 of the McGraw-Hill reprint, particularly
that page the discussion of what is labeled "Speculation"--"Oswald
came back from Mexico City with $5,000" and the following statement,
"Commission finding"--"No evidence has ever been supplied or ob-
tained to support this allegation."
Would not the testimony of Guiterrez Valencia support that alle-
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes, it would. Again the Commission report has to
be read as meaning no evidence that they believe. Otherwise it is not
Mr. CORNWELL. Of course as you may recall back in volume 24 of the official version, there as a reprint of Mr. Guiterrez Valencia's testimony
but it would appear on the face of what we have been able to determine
from the main volume that this testimony does not exist.
Mr. SLAWSON. This should not have been written the way it was. But I could have been as much at fault as anybody in putting these things together. I didn't write this part of the report. On the other hand, I am sure it was shown to me, so I would say I am probably as much at fault as anyone.
Mr. CORNWELL. Again, with respect to exhibit 22 at pages 6 and 7 you discuss the possibility that Oswald might have been an agent for the Cuban or Soviet Government, and particularly on pag 6 you state "his circumstances and character do fit the criteria for an 'agitator,' propagandizer, or even assassin, for the Cuban Government. It follows therefore that bits of evidence pointing toward his being an agent for one of the latter purposes must be taken seriously."
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Is that an acknowledgement that there were both circumstances and character traits, and bits of evidence which pointed toward those possibilities?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes, sure. Those presumably were those that I came to discuss later in the same memo.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would that then be a somewhat different picture than is painted at page 374 of the official version or 350 of the McGrawHill reprint which states that "there is no credible evidence that Oswald was part of a conspiracy * * * no indication that he was aided * * * no meaningful evidence of conspiracy * * * no evidence that the Soviet Union or Cuba were involved in the assassination"?
Mr. SLAWSON. I can only repeat what I said before, that page 374 is the Commission's conclusion as to what the credible evidence was. Whereas the stuff on page 6 of my memo is a statement of evidence at the point where we had not yet made up our mind what the credible evidence was.
As I said earlier this was somewhere between two-thirds and three quarters of our investigation had been done but the remainder remained to be done.
Let me put it another way. I would say the Commission report is like a jury verdict whereas the memo you are reading from is like an investigator's brief or report or even a prosecutor's report although not quite. I certainly was not giving only the evidence in favor of a conspiracy. but I had a more deliberative adoption of suspicion in the memo. I think it was proper at that point.
Mr. CORNWELL. The memo does indicate you do have evidence indicating those concepts?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. Where the Commission report said there was no
evidence indicating those concepts; is that right?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Directing your attention to exhibit 93, which is the memorandum that relates to the footnote supplied by the CIA. In the last two sentences in the first paragraph you note:
Generally speaking we will publish all information on which the Commission relied in coming to its conclusions and all the information which tends to counteract those conclusions. Sources of information will frequently be withheld, but the information supplied by those sources will in almost all cases be published.
Would it be fair to state that your concepts of the fact that you
could only make those statements in terms of "generally speaking"
and "in almost all cases" do not appear in the Commission report
when they describe the fact that all information furnished is
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right. It is not the same. I was quite aware at the time I wrote this memo presumably that I was speaking only in generalitics and probabilities. But I think that probably was my recognition that the decision was not mine to make.
Mr. CORNWELL. In fact, your preliminary view of this was in fact implemented, was it not? and what really happened in the end was just as you predicted, that all information was perhaps generally set forth and maybe even in all cases but not universally?
Mr. SLAWSON. It is hard to know because at the sessions at which the Commission made their final decision, staff members were not present. Those were executive sessions. So we on the staff--I never did find out exactly what the Commission relied on. All I knew is that we gave them all the information we had plus our own evaluation of the evidence and evaluation of what conclusions should be drawn from it.
Finally we read the report like any member of the public did. I forget the exact time I left Washington. I left 24 hours sooner than most staff members did because I broke down and got the flu at the last minute from exhaustion. My law firm also wanted me to get home.
In any event there was a week or week and a half as I remember between the time I left Washington and the time the final report was published. I did not get a copy until the public did.
Mr. CORNWELL. At least the examples you gave us today of the areas in which you decided the information could not .be published, it was in fact not published?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is correct.
Mr. CORNWELL. The report is rather voluminous; is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. It was prepared under, I take it, rather severe pressure in the final moments of your work?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Apart from the kind of thing we have just been
comparing which I suppose we might describe as a change, at least a change in tone from your view of the strength of the evidence and the severity of problems to the way the report reads, were there other problems in the preparation of the final report concerning the question of its accuracy?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, not that I can recollect.
Mr. CORNWELL. Let me show you one document and see if it will perhaps refresh your memory.
May we mark, Mr. Chairman, a memo dated, September 22, 1964 from Mr. Slawson to Mr Willens, subject "Pending Matters" for identification as exhibit 30?
Mr. PREYER. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would it be fair to state, Mr. Slawson, that the memo was prepared September 22, approximately 6 days prior to the Publication of the Warren Commission report, and dealt with the kinds of publication problems you were facing at that time?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we have exhibit 30 admitted into evidence, Mr.
Chairman, so that we may ask the witness specific questions on it?
Mr. PREYER. Without objection, exhibit 30 is admitted into evidence.
[The above referred to document, exhibit 30, was admitted into,
JFK EXHIBIT No. 30
SEPTEMBER 22, 1964.
To: Howard Willens.
From: W. David Slawson.
Subject: Pending matters.
1. Additional or substitute authority from FBI. Reference is made to footnote 563, page 307 of chapter VI. The FBI was simply unable to get to us in time a comprehensive list of the Hotel del Comercio guests who have been located and questioned. Consequently, in addition to the authority already cited, I have inserted a phantom CE number which can be filled in with something. I believe I have fudged the text sufficiently so that almost anything can be fitted in. (CE 3074)
2. The cite checkers tell me that CE 2123 and in particular, attachment 5 thereto, does not have a translation with it. This was translated but before leaving I was unable to locate the translation. It is not particularly important for substantive purposes but obviously the translation should be located.
3. CIA oral clearance has been given for the references to Oswald's staying at the hotels in Helsinki, CE 2676 (portions thereof) which is footnote 479 of appendix 13. This should be coming through soon.
4. Just before he left Bert Jenner said he cleared with Stu Pollak that we should check with State Department as to whether they had any information George de Mohrenschildt's walling trip in Central America in 1960. I asked Dick Frank for this information. The local State Department files contain nothing. He has cabled consulates in Central America to look in their files and will report when he gets their reports.
5. The material which Dean Rusk promised to send over in his testimony has not yet been formally made an exhibit as was agreed during the course of his testimony. This material is contained primarily in CD 1462, CD 1462-A, and CD 1462-B, and somewhat in CD 1135. Sally Hennigan has these documents and is familiar with the material.
6. Mrs. Henningan has tried to catch as many FBI documents as possible that have security classification and that I have made into exhibits. She has made a running list.
7. When I leave I will take with me all my personal materials I will of course take nothing that has anything dealing with Commission business. I think it would be a good idea to leave all by materials approximately where they are, throwing nothing away until enough time has elapsed that you are sure I will not have to be called back for anything. After that, of course, it is up to you what you do with all my stuff. I imagine it will be thrown away. In my own filing system I have made no distinction between classified and unclassified material so the only thing to do with my previous drafts in the black notebooks, for example, if the Commission wants to keep this sort of material, would be to put it in a classified file.
Mr. CORNWELL. The very first paragraph reads:
Additional or substitute authority from FBI. References made to footnote 563, page 307 of chapter VI, the FBI was simply unable to get to us in time a comprehensive list of the Hotel del Comercio guests who have been located and questioned. Consequently in addition to the authority already cited, I have inserted a phantom CE number which can be filled in with something. I believe I have fudged the text sufficiently so that almost anything can be fitted in.
What was the phantom CE number?
Mr. SLAWSON. A phantom CE number was a number that had not yet been taken by anything, so that when the presumed report came in they could give us that number and then have the FBI report cluded in the final volume, assuming it came in in time.
This was apparently done by me because I had to leave before it could come in.
Mr. CORNWELL. There have been public criticisms of the Warren Commission which concern the general subject matter of the accuracy of footnotes and the suggestion that the text did not always coincide with the footnotes. Does your experience, being there at the time this process was being undertaken, indicate that those criticisms were correct, and if so, to what extent?
Mr. SLAWSON. I took, and I think everyone else did, as much care as we could. But the time pressure was severe. With the mass of material that we have I am sure that errors of numbering, and perhaps what footnote A should have had, footnote B did, and vice versa, occurred. I don't think that the kind of crosschecking that normally goes into a good professional publication, for example, ever went into this.
Mr. CORNWELL. What is your impression as to why there were the kinds of changes in tone in the statements? Why did those occur?
Mr. SLAWSON. I think because Earl Warren was adamant almost that the Commission would make up its mind on what it thought was the truth and then they would state it as much without qualification as they could. He wanted to lay at rest doubts. He made no secret of this on the staff. It was consistent with his philosophy as a Judge.
The Brown v. Board of Education decision you remember was unanimous. I think he was at great pains to make sure it was.
At one point in the report it didn't have anything to do with foreign conspiracy so I only was tangentially involved in it--but the question of whether two shots out of the probable three that were fired hit Kennedy, the question was whether or not the first shot came before the first two or between these two or afterward. A great deal of time was spent on that, getting a unanimous opinion from all the Commissioners, I remember that one in particular, and all because Earl Warren felt it was best that they make up their mind as to what they thought the truth was and then try to settle it. Mr. CORNWELL. Apart from, I guess what you basically are describing as a personality trait of Earl Warren and what you have previously told us concerning his desire not to have the question of the assassination become an issue in the national election and therefore keying his time schedule to accomplish that, was there any other motive that you perceived being in existence at the time coming perhaps from Earl Warren, or even from a higher level which would have caused the kind of changes in tones that we are viewing here, particularly with respect to your area of expertise, the foreign area?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; I think that was it. You characterized it as a personality trait of Earl Warren. It was. I think it was almost a very consciously adopted philosophy of his. His idea was that the principal function of the Warren Commission was to allay doubt, if possible. You know, possible in the sense of being honest. lie thought that it was. I suppose he did not think that an official document like this ought to read at all tentatively, it should not be a source of public speculation if he could possibly avoid it. On the other hand, he always assumed that we would publish the background information on which we drew our conclusions so that if anybody wanted to check our conclusions they could. Of course people have.
Mr. CORNWELL. If I could ask you to look at exhibit 27. Mr. Chair-
man, may we have marked for identification exhibit 27 which is a
document reading at the top "February 1964" and is a memorandum
from Mr. Slawson to Mr. Willens styled "Letter to the Russian
Mr. PREYER. We will mark that for identification.
Mr. CORNWELL. You have previously reviewed that memo overnight
is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would it be fair to state that that memo concerns the subject matter of how to seek, and what extent information should be sought, from the Russian Government?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. May we have that document admitted as part of the record, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. PREYER. Without objection the exhibit is admitted in the record.
[The above referred to document, JFK exhibit No. 27, was received in the record.]
JFK EXHIBIT No. 27
To: Mr. Howard P. Willens. FEBRUARY 1964.
From: Mr. W. David Slawson.
Subject: Letter to the Russian Government.
Lee Oswald spent almost three years in Russia. Almost our sole sources of information on these years are his own writings and correspondence and Marina's testimony. We are therefore preparing a letter to be sent to the Russian Government asking for additional information.
On 21 January 1964 the CIA sent us a draft of such a letter. The State Department has commented that in its opinion the CIA draft would probably have serious adverse diplomatic effects. The State Department feels that the CIA draft carries an inference that we suspect that Oswald might have been an agent for the Soviet Government and that we are asking the Russian Government to document our suspicions. The State Department feels that the Russians will not answer a letter of this kind at least not truthfully, and that it will also do positive harm in that they will take offense at our sending it to them. The State Department proposes instead that we send a very short and simple request for whatever information the Russians may have.
My inclination at the present time is that the State Department's recommended approach is probably preferable to the CIA's. However, I would modify the State Department approach slightly by following the general request with a few-very few--specific questions. These questions would be restricted to areas that were both important to us and not such as to give material offense to the Russians. I think that including a few specific questions might even be beneficial in that, if we were careful in the choice of and drafting of these questions, we might successfully convey to the Russian Government the impression that at the present time at least we were inclined to regard Oswald as neurotically and personally motivated in killing the President rather than being motivated by anything connected with the Russian Government. In other words, properly chosen and drafted specific questions might serve to allay suspicion rather than arouse it. With the foregoing general criteria in mind, I would propose including specific questions such as the following:
We would like to have:
1. Copies of all documents and records in connection with any hospitalizations and other medical examinations and treatments of Lee Harvey Oswald and of Mrs. Marina Oswald during her adult life, including:
(1) His treatment in October 1959 in Moscow when, according to his own diary, he Was found unconscious in his hotel room by Intourist Grade Rima Shirokova after an attempted suicide.
(2) Any examinations or treatments made of Marina Oswald on or about October 1961 when, according to Lee Harvey Oswald's diary, Marina Oswald was treated for nervous exhaustion.
2. The results of any physical examinations, psychological tests or psychological examinations made at any time on Lee Harvey Oswald or Marina Oswald.
3. Copies of all communications to and from Lee Harvey Oswald with any organ or commission of the Russian Government in relation to his entering Russia and seeking permission to reside there and in relation to his seeking Russian citizenship during late 1959 and thereafter.
4. Copies of all correspondence to and from Lee Harvey Oswald with any organ or commission of the Russian Government in reference to Oswald's efforts to leave Russia and return to the United States.
5. Copies of all correspondence to and from Marina Oswald in reference to her attempts to leave Russia and accompany her husband to the United States.
6. Copies of the file on Lee Harvey Oswald kept by the Soviet Consulate in Mexico City.
7. Copies of any records showing drunkenness, violence, disorderly conduct or other abnormal behavior on the part of Oswald, whether or not criminal.
You will note that I have not asked in the foregoing questions (except for "No. 6 and No. 7) for co. pies of internal memoranda minutes, etc., as does the CIA draft.
The following questions might be asked, but I am inclined to think that they are not important enough to warrant probably offending the Soviet Government by including them:
1. In the file furnished to the United States Government by the Soviet Government covering the correspondence between the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald. there is a letter dated July 9, 1952 from N. Reznichenko, Chief of the Consular Section, to Marina Oswald and a letter dated August 15, 1962 to N. Raznichenko from Marina Oswald. Both letters refer to a "Form Card No. 118," and the letter dated August 15, 1962 states that the Form Card has been filled out and is enclosed. If possible, we request that a copy of this Form Card be furnished to us at this time. 2. A description of Oswald's job in the Minsk Radio and Television factory, plus copies of all employment records, union records and other job-related activities of Lee Harvey Oswald.
3. A statement as to why Lee Harvey Oswald was not granted Russian citizenship status by the Russian Government. Or, if Oswald was offered such citizenship and he refused, copies of all correspondence to and from Oswald on this subject.
The CIA draft includes certain inquiries on Oswald's ownership of weapons the Soviet Union. The CIA draft does not go on to ask about his membership in the Minsk gun club, which would seem logically to follow in this context. David Belin has told me that he no longer regards the issue of Oswald's marksmanship as of primary importance and that therefore, although he would welcome whatever additional evidence we might obtain from the Russian Government as to Oswald's skill with firearms, he does not feel that this is a high-priority item. In my opinion, the only other reason we might want to ask questions in regard to Oswald's firearms and/or hunting activities in the Soviet Union is to find out whether the gun club and these activities were some sort of cover-up for sabotage or espionage training. Certainly, if such was the case, the Russians will not admit it nor will they furnish us any evidence from which we can document such a conclusion on our part. Consequently, because trying to get information as to a "cover-up" is hopeless and because the marksmanship angle is not crucial, I recommend that we not question the Russian Government on the subject of Oswald's firearms and/or hunting activities in Russia.
Mr. CORNWELL. Let, me ask you, in connection with the preparation
of this document, do you recall a roughly contemporaneous meeting between yourself and Mr. Dulles concerning the subject matter?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, I don't. That doesn't mean I don't recollect it. That means I recollect there was not one.
Mr. CORNWELL. The subject matter, I suppose, in the memo concerns
a balancing of your desire, and apparently the CIA's desire, to request
specific information from the Russian Government, with the State
Department's apprehension about the possibility of antagonizing
them. Is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. No. I would state the balance slightly differently. The
attempt on my part and the CIA's, I think, was simply to obtain in-
formation in a way that would be most likely to get true information
and complete information. The State Department, I think, was also
concerned with that, but in addition concerned with not giving great
offense to the Russians. As I say on page 1 of the document, No. 27,
"The State Department feels that the Russians will not answer a let-
ter of this kind at least not truthfully, and it will also do positive
harm in that they will take offense at our sending it to them."
I apparently read the State Department's response as saying, "You
people are not going to help yourselves by this kind of letter as well as
do some harm by creating a minor international incident."
Let me direct your attention to the very last page, page 5. That page seems to concern a very specific request which the CIA had suggested and that was with respect to Oswald's ownership of weapons in the Soviet Union.
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. The request was dropped, is that accurate?
Mr. SLAWSON. My only recollection is what I read here but certainly that is what I seem to be saying in this memo.
Mr. CORNWELL. It was dropped in part because, I gather. David Belin had told you that he, no longer regarded the issue of Oswald's marksmanship as of prime importance, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is correct.
Mr. CORNWELL. This memo was prepared in February 1964?
Mr. SLAWSON. That is correct. I know it was fairly early on and that is what it says, February 1964. So presumably that is right.
Mr. CORNWELL. You conclude based upon that information from
Mr. Belin that consequently, I recommend that we not question the Russian Government on the subject of Oswald's firearms and/or hunting activities in Russia". Is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. I think so, yes. That seems to come through here.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did David Belin speak to you or Mr. Dulles about the problems in this area?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't know. I would guess that probably what happened here is that Dave Belin did not speak to Dulles directly, but Belin and I probably spoke, or Belin and Coleman or Joe Ball. who was also working with Dave Belin, and it was on the basis of those, conversations that this memo was written.
Mr. CORNWELL. I am sorry, I don't have it to show you, but our research reflects that there was another memo in the files reflecting the fact that you had a conversation with Mr. Dulles on or about January 31, shortly prior to the preparation of this memo concerning the subject, matter of the memo. But you don't recall the conversation?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't recall the conversation. Presumably of course
there was one.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did Mr. Belin ever change his view as to the
relevance or necessity of obtaining this type of information?
Mr. SLAWSON. Not to my recollection, no. There is possibly a mis-
understanding between us on this point. My recollection of what I
meant when I said Dave Belin is telling me he no longer regards the
issue of Oswald's marksmanship as of primary importance is not
whether Oswald's good or bad marksmanship is not important but
he had apparently found other evidence indicating that Oswald could
have become a sufficiently good marksman by what happened in
this country or what had happened in the Marine Corps before he
went to Russia, so that it was no longer of primary importance whether
or not he had gun training in Russia.
Mr. CORNWELL. In other words, your understanding was that he was
willing to forego any inferences that could be derived from getting
Oswald's handling of guns in Russia?
Mr. SLAWSON. For his purposos, which is Oswald's marksmanship, yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. It is your memory that he never changed that view?
Mr. SLAWSON. I have no memory on it one way or another.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did you ever secure the information about the Minsk
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't remember. We of course did get a reply from
Russia with quite a few documents in it. My recollection now is that
they were mostly medical documents. We had a lot of stuff from the
Botkinskaya Hospital and various communications between Oswald
from Minsk and the Russian Government and the American--no, just
the Russian Government in Moscow in connection with his seeking
permission to leave and taking Marina with him and that was about
all. My recollection is that there would have been nothing on this Minsk
stuff, the gun club stuff.
Mr. CORNWELL. In the McGraw-Hill edition on page 180 there is a
section styled "Oswald's Rifle Practice Outside the Marines". One of
the sentences under that reads, "While in Russia Oswald obtained a
hunting license, joined a hunting club and went hunting about six times, times, as discussed more fully in Chapter VI." On page 182 in the con-
clusion part of that chapter, there is a sentence that reads, "Oswald's Marine training in marksmanship, his other rifle experience, and his established familiarity with this particular weapon show he possessed
ample capability to commit the assassination."
At pages 251 and 252 there are statements that "Oswald's membership in the hunting club while he was in the Soviet Union has been a matter of special interest to the Commission." It appears I assume from that that the Commission did draw inferences from the Minsk Gun Club routine in connection with the question of Oswald's marksmanship. Would that be correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, I don't think so. There was certainly nothing in
his being in a gun club in Russia that would detract from his marks-
manship. As I recollect it, Dave Belin felt that you didn't need to
posit any special training by Oswald in Russia in order to account for
the fact that he was probably a good enough marksman to have hit
Kennedy from the position, et cetera.
Mr. CORNWELL. Do you recall Mr, Liebeler earlier raising the issue near the publication date that in fact the Minsk Gun Club data in-dicated use of shotguns and not rifles at all?
Mr. SLAWSON. No, I don't recollect that. Now that you mentioned it that would seem to me probably, even at the time. I have hunted, myself, a little. I have always used a shotgun. I never have gone after deer. My recollection of the sort of hunting that he probably did in Russia was for birds.
Mr. CORNWELL. What inference do you think is appropriate to draw from this chain of events? The fact that the possible inference from the Minsk Gun Club event could relate to the issue of marksmanship, the fact that the information was not sought because of international relations considerations, and the fact that nevertheless the Warren Commission makes statements on the subject matter and draws the inference which was initially contemplated?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't draw the chain of conclusions I think you are there. The first two parts of what you read me from the McGraw-Hill edition of the report I think were from the rumor section, weren't they?
Mr. CORNWELL. Let me hand you the McGraw-Hill volume and leg you look at the same pages. I read from page 180.
Mr. SLAWSON. Right, OK. While in Russia Oswald went hunting
six times and discussed chapter 6.
Mr. CORNWELL. The next page I read from was 182.
Mr. SLAWSON. "OK Oswald's marine training in marksmanship, his other rifle experience and his established familiarity with this particular weapon show that he possessed ample capability to commit the assassination."
The first one I read obviously does refer to his hunting in Russia 182 doesn't.
Mr. CORNWELL. And the final one I read from was 251-252.
Mr. SLAWSON. Once he was accepted as a resident alien in the Soviet Union, Oswald was given considerable, benefits:' excuse me, "Oswald's membership in the hunting club while he was in the Soviet Union has been a matter of special interest to the Commission."
I don't know, what can I say? They did at one point, the first, of three things I read, include his experience, his presumed experience as
a hunter in Russia, as something that would help to explain his being an adequate marksman to kill the President, yes. I mean I don't think that that is being inconsistent even if you assume that the Commission at the time they wrote that had in mind my statements back in this memo which is, of course, a lot to assume.
This memo to Howard Willens about the letter to the Russian Government was a procedural matter to which the Commission members had access and probably saw but I doubt that they saw it when the final time came to write the report.
Mr. CORNWELL. One inference which might be drawn for purposes of discussion from the chain of events is that tile Warren Commission
would, if necessary, have opted for the alternative of writing up its
preconceived or initially conceived inference, which in this case would
be David Belin's conclusions on the marksmanship issue, rather than
take a chance on disrupting delicate foreign relations.
What I want to ask you is, is that a proper inference, as to something
that you experienced more widely than this one instance or is it
example of an abnormal situation as that time?
Mr. SLAWSON. Let free try to reconstruct what I assume to be the Commission's thinking process going, into that.
We had pretty good evidence that Oswald had been a member of a hunting club at some time in Russia. The best evidence we had was simply Marina's statement he was. I think we had a statement from other people testifying before the Commission that when he came back at some point or other he might have mentioned to them he was in a gun club in Russia.
There wasn't really much doubt about that. Therefore, it seems to me it is perfectly fair to mention that when someone says, was this man good enough marksman, among other things you could mention is that he enjoyed hunting, he was familiar with guns. Even if it was only a shotgun, nevertheless there is some correlation, I assume, between how good you were with a shotgun and with a rifle on a moving target.
Now what we presumably would have gotten, what we hope we would get from the Russians on the gun club or hunting club was more than that. This is why finally we decided there is no way to get it. What we were most suspicious about or the worst possibility that might have happened was that this was some kind of coverup for training of assassins. I think that is why the State Department thought the Russians would take offense at it. If that is so, you can be certain the Russians would not have come back with a document of "Yes, here is the method of training assassins here." So' it would have been an exercise in futility to ask the Russians to come across with that kind of information. Mr. CORNWELL. So, the short answer I guess is that you don't draw
the inference that I suggest might be possible because you felt it was an explainable chain of events based upon what evidence was necessary, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes. For marksmanship purposes I think it was perfectly proper and honest for the Warren report to refer to the Minsk Gun Club. But at the beginning of the investigation I was interested in it not primarily for that reason but for the reason that it might have been a coverup for something more sinister.
Mr. CORNWELL. Are there any other examples where the possibility of wanting to avoid sensitive areas of international relations, diplomatic relationships, prevented you from securing the kind of evidence that you would have liked or that you felt was necessary?
Mr. SLAWSON. There was one other area that may have involved that among other things. Sylvia Turada de Duran, who was the clerk at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, was taken into custody by the Mexican police very soon after the assassination and questioned, my recollection is, for about 3 days. All this happened before the Warren Commission was formed. We got a report from the Russian police and that report is in this memo, No. 22.
We would have liked to questioned her further. When I say we, members of the staff, Coleman and myself and Howard Willens thought it would be a good idea too. But when I talked to the CIA about it and later when we went down to Mexico City I remember talking to officials. I believe we even talked to the Mexican officials at the time, one of them being Echevarria who later became President. He was Minister of Security when we went down there. The upshot of
all those conversations was that she had suffered a nervous breakdown, possibly because of the arrest and questioning, and that she was in hiding and only her husband knew where she was and he would not let her speak to anyone in connection with this.
Nevertheless, the CIA told me that they might be able to persuade her husband to permit us to question her, even including possibly flying her back to Washington. But it would be very difficult---well, Earl Warren decided not to follow up on that if she was not willing to come willingly. He did not want to apply pressure on her. Insofar as I understood his reasons for that, they were partly feeling that we ought not to put pressure on her, the American Government did not want to involve itself further at that point. But primarily he just felt he did not want to put severe pressure
on an individual and I think he was ashamed that already interroga-
tion had caused her to have a nervous breakdown. He did not want
to get involved in anything remotely like torture.
Mr. CORNWELL. I am sorry I don't have a copy of it to show you. We have ordered it but not yet received it. But it has been reported to us by our research staff that in the L.B.J. Library in Austin there is
a memo prepared by, or reflecting a conversation between, Mr. Hoover and the White House, Walter Jenkins. The conversation reflects that Hoover made the following statement: "The thing I am most concerned about, and Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so that they can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin," the conversation occurring November 24, 1963, 2 days after the assassination. Furthermore, Mr. Hoover also stated: "Mr. Katzenbach thinks the President might appoint a Presidential Commission of three outstanding citizens to make a determination. I counterted with the suggestion that we make an investigative report to the Attorney General with pictures, laboratory work, et cetera. And then the Attorney General can make the report to the President and the President can decide whether to make it public." The final sentence in the memo reads, the final statement by Mr. Hoover:"I felt that, in other words, the investigation by the FBI was better because there are several aspects which would complicate our foreign relations if we followed the Presidential Commission route."
First, let me ask you, would this concern, that apparently was discussed between the head of the FBI and the White House 2 days after the assassination, of convincing the public that "Oswald is the real assassin" and "avoiding complicating our foreign relations," would that, was that concept known to you at the time?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; not other than as it is reflected in memos like this number 27.
Mr. CORNWELL. Would that type of concern at those levels have been consistent with the obstacles you encountered in attempting to secure various types of evidence in the foreign conspiracy field?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; I suppose it would not be. There is an obvious conflict. You are following evidence wherever it leads logically. Occasionally you are going to ruffle people and that obviously includes foreign heads of state and diplomats and so on.
Mr. CORNWELL. I am not sure I phrased the question or you understood the way I meant it, but that concern, would it have been con-
sistent with the obstacles you encountered, of Earl Warren's desire
not to have Duran come back, not to go to the Swiss to get informa-
tion from the Cubans; the other examples we discussed?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes; that may have played a larger role in the con-
sideration than I thought at the time.
Mr. CORNWELL. Finally, let me ask you, do you know specifically
what was meant by the words "several aspects," in other words, the
concept, "I felt this was better because there are several aspects [in
other words] of potential investigation which would complicate our
foreign relations- Specifically what areas were they concerned about?
Mr. SLAWSON. That was Hoover speaking, is that right?
I can only guess of course but presumably Hoover had information
even at that early date that Oswald had been down to Mexico and spoken to the Cuban and Russian Embassies. Of course he knew that Oswald had been a defector to Russia and would return. I assume therefore that he was thinking of the Cuban and Russian Governments but probably in particular the Cuban Government. Obviously Cuba would have known about Oswald's Fair Play for Cuba activities. We have FBI reports on that. So I would guess we had in mind especially Cuba but also. Russia. He thought that probably this evidence indicated some possible involvement with those countries and that it would be bad public relations, bad international diplomatic relations, to arouse suspicion. Mr. CORNWELL. To what extent, if any, do you believe it would have been possible if the CIA, and of course from the memo we can assume the FBI, were aware of these considerations--to what extent could they have tailored their report to you to be sure that even though the Presidential Commission was formed, that you did not "tip whatever boat" it was that they were worried about?
Mr. SLAWSON. Well, if the two agencies worked together on that, their ability would have been considerable. If they worked separately they still would have had some ability to do that. I testified this morning we were inescapably dependent upon the CIA especially for some aspects of the investigation. Looking back though, remember the CIA was on my side in getting that authenticating information from Russia. They wanted me to do it. My recollection is that I did not discuss with them the fact that Earl Warren had told me not to, but the CIA was also willing to help us persuade Mrs. Duran's husband to get her to come back. They were on the side, in other words of going ahead in spite of ruffling international relations. Mr. CORNWELL. You testified earlier that you and Mr. Rocca had had conversations concerning CIA's involvement with anti-Castro groups, is that correct?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. I believe you told us that your understanding of his personality was that he was very much opposed to Castro?
Mr. SLAWSON. Yes.
Mr. CORNWELL. What inference do you draw or did you draw if you compared those facts with your considerations of the anti-Castro Cuban motive matter that you also told us about? In other words, you considered as part of your investigation that the anti-Castro Cubans would have had a motive for the assassination ? You told us that Mr.
Rocca admitted the CIA's close connection with the anti-Castro
Cubans. You told us that Mr. Rocca himself had personally the same
type of feeling the anti-Castro Cubans would have.
Mr. SLAWSON. Against Castro, right.
Mr. CORNWELL. Did that cause you to question the rehability of the
information you were receiving from the CIA ?
Mr. SLAWSON. No. In a sense everything I tried to take into consid-
eration, so everything was a cause for questioning. But in terms of
coming to a conclusion in my own mind about the rehability of the
information supplied us, no, I concluded that Rocca's strong anti-
Castro feeling did not bias or did not prevent him from being an
I think he was and I am still convinced that he was. On the other
hand of course it affected his judgement. I think he would probably
to this day think that maybe there is a substantial possibility at least
that Castro had something to do with it.
Mr. CORNWELL. But you did not draw the inference that because of similiarity of motives that the CIA may have been wittingly or otherwise involved in the type of activity you hypnotized, the anti-Castro setup of Oswald, and therefore would be tailoring the information that he was providing to you on those subject matters?
Mr. SLAWSON. No. I don't think that I entertained very long the possibility that Rocca or anybody else I had known in the CIA was involved in any way in killing Kennedy.
Mr. CORNWELL. Perhaps I overphrased the question. I did not mean Rocca, as much as information coming from CIA on the subject matter which was funneled to you.
Mr. SLAWSON. I guess I am having trouble getting the crux of your question because the possibility that the anti-Castro Cubans contained people who were ruthless or desperate enough to kill Kennedy in order to serve their own end I felt was a very real one. Apparently from all I knew they contained a lot of desperate ruthless people. I did not have that feeling about the CIA. Now I tried to keep an open mind so that any place I came upon evidence that would point toward somebody I would investigate it and that included the CIA as a possible nest of assassins. My judgment of their character and so on was far different, I think, from the judgment I made of the anti-Castro Cuban conspiracy groups in the United States.
Mr. CORNWELL. I have one final question. Do you have any knowledge of the use of any electronic surveillance after the assassination in order to acquire information concerning what caused it in the first instance?
Mr. SLAWSON. Wait. Use of electronic surveillance after the assassination in order to---
Mr. CORNWELL. Secure evidence of the manner in which the assassi-
nation may have been planned and carried out.
Mr. SLAWSON. Here or abroad?
Mr. CORNWELL Here.
Mr. SLAWSON. No.
Mr. CORNWELL. What about abroad? I take it by your answer you do not feel free to discuss that?
Mr. SLAWSON. No; I don't. That is one of those areas that I was
cautioned very strongly not to disclose and I have not been released
Mr. CORNWELL. I have no further questions.
Mr. PREYER. Thank you. Are there any questions from the panel?
Mr. DEVINE. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PREYER. Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. McKINNEY. I have one brief question. It interests me as to how
we got from what you did and what everyone else did to what you have sitting in front of you. Who dictated or put it together or typed it or what?
Mr. SLAWSON. It was obviously a group project but the principal authors I think were Howard Willens, Norman Redlich and Al Goldberg, all of them staff members. That is my recollection.
Mr. McKINNEY. If I were working with you and you and I were working with Coleman and we do our affidavit and we sent it off somewhere and you are back in Denver at that point, you don't even see the final result.
Mr. SLAWSON. That is right.
Mr. McKINNEY. From what I know of the Commission they met sporadically as a full group. From having tried to wade through what counsel has given us on these reports and the Warren Commission report itself, what I have taken as a very objective document historically from my point of view, has suddenly become a very. subjective document. Someone took Dave Slawson's stuff and rewrote it and said here it is. Is that a fair judgment on my part?
Mr. SLAWSON. I don't know how to assess how subjective. In matters of tone it obviously is. I still think an attempt was made to keep it objectively accurate. Yet, I did cut loose at a certain point and
I have done all I can and I just hope that everything comes out the way it should, and come back to private life.
Mr. McKINNEY. Let me ask you a personal question. You practice law in Colorado and pick up and read this thing. You spent 16-hour days and were living from a hotel in Washington, I assume, and working for a greater cause. Did you read this with a sense of disappointment, satisfaction, questioning, or just what the hell can you expect?
Mr. SLAWSON. Generally one of satisfaction. First, it may sound odd to say so but to this day I have never read it from cover to cover.
Mr. McKINNEY. Fine. I don't think anyone really has. Some of our researchers here I think cut it up in sections.
Mr. SLAWSON. I read parts of it in the beginning. Then I turned parts which were my own particular expertise to see what happened to them. My recollection is that my first reaction was a sense of disappointment, I think mostly egotistical, they were shorter than they should have been. I thought my sections were more important. I did not see anything inaccurate in them. Mr. Cornwell pointed out this one thing about the $5,000, for example. That slipped by me until you pointed it out a few minutes ago. That is a minor inaccuracy but it is an inaccuracy. I just did not see it at the time. So my answer is generally I was quite satisfied.
Mr. McKINNEY. I think it is a general historical opinion among 200 million Americans that this is something that was very objectively, done by a group of our most distinguished leaders. That is why I ask the question about what they had done to your work.
Mr. SLAWSON. This was a somewhat new experience to me too. I had been on a student law review and seen my work edited by someone else and not come out exactly the way I put it in but I never had been on thing approaching this with the number of people involved and the emotional and personal pressures that everyone felt. At first I was surprised at how little control all of us on the staff had over what was finally going in. Then I quickly realized this is the way it had to be, what we would expect, and to my knowledge nothing was falsified, but the general shape and tone of the document was going to be something, that others did. Mr. McKINNEY. One last personal opinion since you have been
kind. One of the reasons that I argued for this committee being estab-
lished was that I felt that the Warren Commission was under ex-
tremely undue pressure No. 1, one of the most popular leaders as-
sassinated. Because assassinations are extremely politically motivated
Europe, historically they have been aimed at starting something
doing something. There was good historical information that the Eu-
ropeans were concerned we might be becoming a bit of a banana re-
public, all of those pressures plus the election and everything else. Do.
you feel we have a better chance of getting at the truth now than
did under pressure?
Mr. SLAWSON. No. To be truthful, I think the historical moment. has'
passed. For good or bad history is not going ,to get much more than we.
have right there.
Mr. McKINNEY. Thank you very much.
Mr. PREYER. Mr. Slawson, we certainly appreciate your being here
today and your very straightforward testimony. We will excuse you at
this time. I hope you have ample time to avoid the rush hour traffic to,
Dulles and will make your flight without any problem. Thank you
Mr. SLAWSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am glad to have been of