tv Book Discussion on Dallas 1963 CSPAN November 17, 2013 3:00am-3:46am EST
whether you think there are sort of real sort of ideological conservativism as opposed to just some of these kind of formative influences, you know, whether you saw evidence of that in his writings or in his, you know, his conversations. >> are -- yeah. well, you know, i think the best clues we have are these speeches where he talked about the individual versus the state and god given rights. this' the closest -- that's the closest here got to a kind of comprehensive statement that went beyond, you know, we need more missiles or we've got to send a man to the moon. i haven't mentioned the moon shot, but that was, i think, really more part of a cold war battle with the soviet union. and he was also a very competitive guy. i mean, he -- it's a cliche almost at this point, but he grew up in this big family playing touch football and doing
>> it's one of these things, you don't even need one of those cell phones or, you know, magic ear sticks, you know? you just go around and they press a button, and you walk into the room and you hear her voice. and each room of that house, she's talking about some sort of, you know, they live near the catholic church, and she liked to go there with the kids every day so that they saw that mass wasn't just for sundays, and, you know, there's a picture of mary and jesus in the bedroom where kennedy was born, and there's a picture of the vatican in the dining room.
and he made these speeches about godless, evil capitalism at notre dame and at assumption which are catholic colleges. and, you know, he could say, well, he wanted -- he was pandering to the catholic audience or the catholic vote, but then you get this testimony from people who said, you know, they saw him praying at night before he went to bed or barbara sinatra saying that when he went to visit in palm springs, he used to, he used to, he used to constantly be going to mass before chasing all the girls, which she thought was strange. [laughter] so, you know, he's sailing off of maine, and they're sending some, you know, navy tender boat to take him to some obscure chapel out there to go to mass.
so i think that, i think -- and he was skipping bacon on fridays to remember the day when jesus was killed. i mean, i think that stuff was serious for him, because people -- it wasn't known other than by his closest aides. no one would know if he skipped mass on a sunday, you know? when he was in maine. so i think that was, i think that was a serious thing for him in a way that a i think a lot of academic historians or journalists who are not personally religious can't quite get their minds around. >> and i hope you -- just let me ask one more question which is a more forward-looking question as opposed to formative influences. i though you're also an opinion journalist as well as, you know, sort of historian with this book.
so i wanted to ask you kind of what you think that the takeaway should be from this book for conservatives today and particularly, i guess, with the government shutdown going on, what you think what lessons jfk, you know, might present or might give to, you know, the congressional republicans right now. >> right. >> so sort of, i fess this is a question about your -- i guess this is a question about your larger purpose in writing the book as a conservative and what you sort of hope is going to be, you know, passed on to your own party. >> right. well, i think keeping an eye on the ball of economic growth and peace through strength and free trade, a sound dollar, domestic spending restraint are all important policies. i think those leadership principles of getting a wide spectrum of advice but also sticking to your principles and when you decide, decide are good advice, but, you know, i'm not really in the business of giving
advice to politicians. i'm more in the business of trying to figure out what the facts were of history so that, so that the politicians can read it and decide for themselves what worked and what didn't work and, you know, i guess the other thing that i would say also is, yeah, kennedy really tried to focus with congress on what was possible. i mean, he didn't go be for medicare. i mean, he stretched what was possible, right? he went for the moon. but for the tax cut, he really, he tried to find stuff with congress. it's a different situation, right? the democrats controlled both houses of congress during the kennedy administration. some of them were conservative
democrats who were not too kindly disposed towards some of the things that kennedy was trying to do. so i think, you know, focus on what's possible, stick to your principles and look for, look for things that can be a win/win, you know? like the free trade and the tax cut and the military spending. i mean, all that stuff there was broad, there was pretty broad support for that sometimes cut across party lines or ideological lines. so, i mean, growth is a great example, right? who's against growth? maybe some hard core environmentalist, but -- [laughter]
but, you know, or winning against the soviet union. who was against that? so kennedy managed to -- and i think all successful politicians -- managed to find what, i think frank luntz would call them 90% issues. 90 percent of the people are for that. >> we'll make in the last question. >> okay, thanks. thank you. i'm really intrigued about the book, the concept of seeing someone who has been viewed as a liberal essentially from a little different lens and thinking of him more as a key. but that may mean that our language has changed. not only our times have changed, but the language has changed too. and i'm wondering now you mentioned the senate democrats, particularly the chairman who were generally conservatives and much more interested in programs that, well, they were interested in programs that kennedy didn't necessarily support particularly in civil rights. but i'm, but i'm remarking now
and thinking about your just very last comments about how he seemed to focus more on the art of the possible, because there are many people who think that if lyndon johnson hadn't pushed through those programs, particularly the civil rights act and some of the other major legislation, it never would have gotten through under kennedy. so it's sounding to me maybe more like prague ma pragmatist is the worthed. and it's not a word you hear about with great acclaim today. people have their, you know, their points of view, and you've got these camps. and maybe what, you know, part of the legacy of this book may be that pragmatism and really not only thinking about what you want to do, but also thinking about what's good for the country and what the country can handle, maybe that's, maybe that's part of what the president ought to be doing. >> yeah. well, i guess, if you're a conservative democrat from
massachusetts, you get called a pragmatist. if you're a liberal republican from the south, you might get called a pragmatist. you know, kennedy, kennedy said sometimes it's not the labels that matter, and i go back and forth about whether he was right about that. i think the labels in some ways are useful lenses for helping us remember what actually happened. and that's, you know, that's really what i hope people
the key players working on the warren commission that investigated the death of kennedy. was going to start with mr. willens. he is going to read five to eight minutes. then we will have chiles will read from his book for five to eight minutes the man then we will have this session and open it up to questions. thank you very much. >> proceed. >> like tech expressed by appreciation for this opportunity to appear before an ever-growing crowd and tell you a little bit about my experience of what the warren commission's staff five decades ago the first section would like to refer my book is the title, the genesis of that single bullet theory. one of the most of the developments in the commission's work started to take shapely in february. although working conscientiously on their analytical memorandum in order to beat the deadline, the commission staff, like most
lawyers to my greatly preferred to confer in debate the issues. one of the important problems we faced with determining which of the bullets hit, and win. the bill gave us the key to solving this problem. but the fbi and secret service had separately and repeatedly examine the bill. a group of our lawyers did the same, often joined by fbi agent linda l. shinn the field, a photography expert to provide valuable assistance to the commission. the first day that he reported to the commission in late january gym recalls joining, a group of staff members to watch the film over and over again as well as examining individual frames. it was my first reading with norman. i ask him once i caught the drift of the meeting whether he thought more than one person had been shooting at the motorcade.
his answer, that is what we're trying to find out. at this stage of the investigation the lawyers questioned the conclusion reached by both the fbi and the secret service regarding that three shots believed to have been fired from the depository. all the witnesses at the scene, recall varying between two and six shots, the largest number heard three shots, three cartridges had been discovered on the sixth floor of the depository, three shots became are working hypothesis. initially most of us thought the first shot hit the president, the second day, like a man that third kill the president. connolly firmly believe he had been hit by the second shot after he heard the first shot and that he was not hit by this same shot that first hit kennedy however, remnants of only two bullets were found in the presidential vehicle. close examination of the film gave us one way to help determine roughly when kennedy was for state and when connally was it.
between that first and second shot covered a span of less than two and a half seconds, the time estimates to be necessary to fire two shots, i might suggest a second rifle was involved. proving a second gunman had participated. the position of the governor. receiving a set of drawings portraying there rig count position of connolly from five different viewpoints. he then gave these drawings to the fbi asking the bureau to compare these drawings with the zapruder dome and advise when, according to the zapruder film connally could not have been hit. the fbi advised the governor was not only in the position reconstructed by his doctors at
any time after frame 240. the commission's lawyers working on the problem agreed with this determination. and additional information became available. where did the bullet go? there was no evidence on the inside of the presidential car that reflected the damage that a bullet would have caused and of the trajectory in had the assumed velocity of the bullet exited the president said. there was some point in his collegial sessions, someone suggested out loud that all of the group were thinking that the first bullet had hit the president and also created connolly's won't irresponsibility of a single bullet hitting both men which contradicted connolly statement and later testimony before the commission was also simplicity and became the much maligned single bullet theory.
before this there could be accepted by the staff and presented to the commission it needed to be challenged and tested and a variety of ways. that, in turn, led to the re-enactment of the assassination that the commission conducted three months later. i would like to just read one additional short piece, march 1964 in response to a detailed investigative request that we had to the fbi, we got, in return, a very detailed response, but in response j. edgar hoover said as follows, at the outset i wish to emphasize the facts available to the fbi concerning the army of zero -- of prior to the assassination did not indicate in any way he was or would be a threat to president kennedy nor were they such as to suggest that the fbi should inform the secret service of his presence in dallas or his
employment at the texas school book depository. hoover was not telling the truth. demille after the assassination hoover ordered the investigation to identify any deficiencies in the handling of the house of case. december 10 he receives a report from assistant director james p.m. this day that there were a number of failures in the house will security case. the report concluded, of salt should have been on the security index. should have been interviewed before the assassination, and the investigation intensified, not held in abeyance after oslo contacted the soviet embassy. 17x -- fbi employees censored or placed on probation for shortcomings with the investigation of oz all prior to the assassination. an action should be taken promptly despite the possibility that the warren commission might learn about it during the contest -- commission's
existence. assisted director suggested the disciplinary action be deferred until the commission's findings be made public. hoover did not agree and implemented their recommendation on the same day he received the report personally ordering that all 17 fbi officials involved in the dealings with all before the assassination be disciplined. his deal was us that such gross incompetence could not be overlooked in our administrative action postponed. end quote. just director, suggested an addendum that it was significant that all of the agents, supervisors, and officials to consider the issue that concluded on oswald did not meet the criteria for the security index. under these circumstances proposed that rather than discipline secretary it should be changed as recommended by gail.
a handwritten notation next a belmont. certainly no one in pole position of all his faculties can claim all did fall within these criteria. his deliberate statement did not come to light until ten years later after hoover died when the congressional committee investigating the fbi failures in connection with the assassination of kennedy. >> thank you, mr. willis. if you would buy his book you will find that that he played a key role in nearly every phase of the warren commission investigation, but i want to introduce someone he just arrived shortly a while ago. he was a reporter on the scene when of all shot kennedy. he was there when of was arrested in that theater. he was there when jack murphy shot oswald. he sort of got around. he was a reporter for the dallas morning news at the time and has
written a book about his experiences in history. we have let these two guys read from their buck. you can speak or make remarks or whenever you wish. >> perhaps i should explain these places. some of it, it's involved. actually, i was a reporter for the dallas morning news, and i was not signed any part of the coverage. i was of little upset because i have been a reporter for 12 years already and thought, this was pretty important, and i should be involved. everybody, they came by and had coffee. i'm going to the motorcade. and going out to the field. i will be at the trade marks. suddenly i decided, i have to go over to the motorcade, the parade route. you don't see a president every day. it was rather exciting.
there was a mood in dallas that may be anticipatory. i thought there might be some embarrassment of some kind because several people had one that they were going to pick the trademark or that downtown area. so i got over there. i saw a couple of lawyer friends. i positioned my place. i looked up. i could have seen the window. i did not look up that way because the motorcade was coming in front of me. everyone was so excited. there were kennedy haters in dallas, none of them showed up that day. i was very pleased.
i thought i heard a motorcycle, but it was not. and then pick about three seconds later a second and then a third. and i am not a shooter, but i could tell that when i listened carefully, the second and third, the rifle. and the place went berserk. people were running. they did not know where to run because first we did not know who we shooting, and many were shooting, where there were shooting from. nothing. people were throwing their children down in covering them, running into each other, screaming and crying. it was just complete pandemonium. at that point i got a of a bit busier. the newspaperman in me .. i thought, have the interview.
everyone i see here. there was one man particularly in front of me who was pointing up to that sixth floor window. he kept saying, he is up there. i did not know what he had known are seen, but i had to interview him. i did. i approached him. i don't know how much you want to know. you're going to take questions later. anyway, from that i went on and her that the officer had been shot, went to that scene, was in the theater when he was captured. i ran like the devil for city hall. shot his way into history. >> thank you. i need to restate the title of your book. i shortened it apparently. november 22nd 1963, with this history.
i was a medical student in the library when the pages began, all department heads report immediately to the emergency room. none of us ever heard any case like that. it began an did none of us will ever forget. my book is not a historical retelling of events surrounding the assassination, nor is it an analysis of the event of that day and their impact. rather, the book gives to a human story of the assassination from the standpoint of the
physicians, medical students, residents who were the first community to learn of the death of our presidents. some of the recollections were recorded in the aftermath. there are in my -- letters to loved ones that are touching and moving. one of which says i was there, i felt him die. the recollections of individuals five decades later are also still incredibly vivid, and i have included archival history from the oral testimony of the individuals in the are no longer with us. now they are preserved for all time.
i will read something from my book now. twice in a 45 hour, 31 minute time frame parkland hospital was the center of worldwide attention. it was a temporary seat of the united states of america, the seat of government of the united states of america as well as the seat of government for the state of texas. our 305th president died in trommel bomb want and at that moment the ascendancy of the 306th president of the united states occurred. two days later it was the site of the death of the president's accused assassin, and we were there. like the patrons of the ford theater who witnessed the assassination of president lincoln, a blood spattered history insulted our senses, some of us were in the emergency
operating room. some in the hallway and others stood outside the emergency room loading dock. conspiracy theories have continued to rage for 50 years since that day, and they were not put to rest by the warren commission's conclusion that there was a single shooter. the doctors at parkland where the only one seesaw the neck wound before the emergency tracheotomy, and they were unanimous that the neck wound was an injury won't. in time, however, most, but not all no longer would believe this a rich vein of recollection is reported from those of us who stood at the emergency room loading dock, some of whom are in the room, some of my co-others are here in the room.
we looked into the presidential limousine and saw the back seat covered in blood. the roses, on the floor. there are about 150 us standing there. we received word that the president had died about half an hour before the world knew about the announcement. i can never forget how the wailing of the black people contrasts it with a dry eye of stunned medical students dancing around. 1-year student held the telephone line open for cbs in new york for their reporter, robert dearborn. as this was long before satellite or cellphone, the payphones in that emergency room were the only communication with the outside world. for more than an hour freshman
medical students stood there and described what was going on in the rose room. they went back and forth to trauma room one. when pierre. told walter cronkite who was broadcasting live that the priest had administered the last rites to the president's cronkite would then say i guess it does not get any more official then that. the mexican-american men pulled up the letting knock with this send to deliver live this dollars car. many of us saw president johnson ghostly pale surrounded by airing of suits trundling him into that.
memories of jackie kennedy are and many americans are received and they reflect a primal sympathy for her everything and the sec chief said this, as she circled and circled, noticed her hands were cuffed in front of her as if she were cradling something. as she passed, she nice to me with her elbow and handed me what she had been nursing with hands. a large chunk of brain tissue. one of the most touching memories of the first lady is from adelle, a surgery resident who witnessed jackie move toward the dead president, remove the wedding ring from his finger, place it on her hand and kiss him.
then there was the historic confrontation in trauma of room one between county medical examiner boroughs and the secret service over the custody of the remains of the president. he said, i was in their way. that was face-to-face with secret service agent roy kellerman, and i was trying to explain to him that texas law required an autopsy to be performed in texas. no one was in charge of the situation. calamine tied three tactics and his late. he asserted his identity, representing the secret service. he appealed for sympathy from mrs. kennedy. finally, he used body language in an attempt to bully me. i was not looking at a gentlemen's gun. they're guns were drawn.
was looking at his eyes, and there were very intense. his eyes as i said the man to get the president's body back to washington. in their runout silence of the parkland the emergency room after president johnson, jackie kennedy, and the bronze casket had gone, drs. michael l. faster and on walked into the trauma room before it had been claimed in a wastebasket they found that two dozen red roses given to the first lady that morning. each removed a single rose. and he preserved his until this day. the eyewitness memories gathered in my book paints a previously unseen tapestry of this unforgettable time. some recollections are like the
grainy black-and-white tv images of the day while others either graphic technicolor of some real dreams the chapters above detail the site san feelings of the 45 authors when the shockwave first hit the hospital. their immediate actions, what they saw and felt are vividly remembered half a century from that fateful day. dr. robert began with, the whole world cried the day i met jfk. >> thank you. [applause] >> you bring up the point that has been used as conspiracy theory about the neck wound and
it possibly coming from the front in direct contradiction to what the warren commission found and i believe you might have something to say. >> yes. dr. giles but is a very touching recitation of the feelings and the involvement of many people at the time of the assassination in parkland. he does, unfortunately, extend his views from time to time to point out that the warren commission ignores some critical evidence that that is not the case, and i can elaborate on that later. the point about the throne is really very simple, the hostels a medically did not turn the body over. they knew that will be in uphill struggle. virtually helpless from the very onset. the point is, they did not begin
to have a complete knowledge about the body until they learned from doctors up at bethesda naval vasily that the body included to loans entering from the rear, one in the upper right-hand shoulder of the back and the other entering in the right posterior of this bill. and once the autopsy doctors communicated their findings to the park land doctors, most of the park plan doctor said, well, did those circumstances it is certainly more likely that the bond and the perot was an exit wound. i mean, the doctors who subsequently look at the autopsy x-rays and photographs in 1968, 1975, 1978 all looked at the autopsy photographs and the x-rays, and opportunity the warren commission did not have, and all of those experienced pathologist concluded unanimously, 17 of them, that
the shot to the brain injured from the right rear and the top front and that the shot tr and d through the throw. seventeen pathologist's agreed on the first shot to the head. fifteen but those disagreed on the second shot to the back exiting to the third. on 21 people who have examined the issue of qualifications beyond challenge 20 of 21 agree that the single bullet theory is impact on the theory but a conclusion of fact. i have respect for the park when doctors and i'm sure it has been shared drought this remember world for their skills and efforts to resuscitate a president who had brought some much hope and promise to the future of this country and what strikes me as the 50th anniversary approaches us that we should honor our presidents with a fair understanding of his contribution, of his weaknesses,
of his potential for changing the course of history we should not to mean is a beautician by catering, fostering, and endorsing conspiracy theories that have no effectual basis of soever. [applause] >> we admire you tremendously. i think the white commission, some of its own problems. at the time he began there is only one conspiracy theorist of any magnitude.
thing. a good reporter from st. louis saw what he thought was a thing in the windshield. a little chip, and it was from the outside. he wrote it in the st. louis post-dispatch. he went out there a few hours later, and it was on the inside. shots from the back. once again, they lied to us. so many instances like this everywhere along . and then you have -- nobody apparently ever asked the right people what really happened. and the people did not shut out that should have at that time. and i think that contributes. >> thank you very much. [applause] before we go to questions from the audience, does anyone have anything you wish to have? anyone with questions, please come on up and let's start it. [applause]