Breach of Trust

How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why

Gerald D. McKnight

The Warren Commissions major conclusion was that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Gerald McKnight rebuts that view in a meticulous and devastating dissection of the Commissions work.

The Presidents Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy was officially established by Executive Order to investigate and determine the facts surrounding JFKs murder. The Warren Commission, as it became known, produced 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits, more than 17,000 pages of testimony, and a 912-page report. Surely a definitive effort. Not at all, McKnight argues. The Warren Report itself, he contends, was little more than the capstone to a deceptive and shoddily improvised exercise in public relations designed to prove that Oswald had acted alone.

“A convincing, scrupulously researched, and chilling rebuttal to the ‘lone gunman, no conspiracy’ account. . . . Strongly recommended.—”

Library Journal

“Fifty years from now, writers may still be grinding out new studies and theories about the Kennedy assassination. If so, Breach of Trust probably will be one of their important starting points.”

—Dallas Morning News
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McKnight argues that the Commissions own documents and collected testimony—as well as thousands of other items it never saw, refused to see, or actively suppressed—reveal two conspiracies: the still very murky one surrounding the assassination itself and the official one that covered it up. The cover-up actually began, he reveals, within days of Kennedys death, when President Johnson, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and acting Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach all agreed that any official investigation must reach only one conclusion: Oswald was the assassin.

While McKnight does not uncover any smoking gun that identifies the real conspirators, he nevertheless provides the strongest case yet that the Commission was wrong—and knew it. Oswald might have knowingly or unwittingly been involved, but the Commissions own evidence proves he could not have acted alone.

Based on more than a quarter-million pages of government documents and, for the first time ever, the 50,000 file cards in the Dallas FBIs Special Index, McKnights book must now be the starting point for future debate on the assassination.

Among the revelations in Breach of Trust:

Both CIA and FBI photo analysis of the Zapruder film concluded that the first shot could not have been fired from the sixth floor

The Commissions evidence was never able to place Oswald at the snipers nest on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting.

JFKs official death certificate, signed by his own White House physician and contradicting the Commissions account of Kennedys wounds, was left out of the official record.

The dissenting views of the naval doctors who performed the autopsy and those of the governments best ballistic experts were kept out of the official report.

The Commissions tortuous Single Bullet or Magic Bullet theory is finally and convincingly dismantled.

Oswald was probably a low-level asset of the FBI or CIA or both.

Commission members Gerald Ford (for the FBI) and Allen Dulles (for the CIA) acted as informers regarding the Commissions proceedings.

The strong dissenting views of Commission member Senator Richard Russell (D-Georgia) were suppressed for years.

About the Author

Gerald D. McKnight is professor emeritus of history at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and the author of The Last Crusade: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the FBI, and the Poor Peoples Campaign.