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Find Any Holes?


Abe Fortas, lead partner of the Washington law firm of Arnold, Fortas & Porter, handed me to review—fresh off the press—the voluminous Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I had become an associate of the firm during the 1960 presidential campaign, then took a leave of absence in 1961 to launch Food For Peace and then to work for Attorney General Robert Kennedy. I had returned to the firm in 1963 and was at my desk when word came of the unspeakable tragedy in Dallas.


Ten months later Fortas, as President Johnson’s personal lawyer, had been asked to review the report. Exercising a prerogative conferred upon senior partners with regard to their lowly associates at about the time of the Creation, he passed the book to me, asking that I review it and report back within hours. When I did so, he asked, “Find any holes?”


Detailed and businesslike as it was, from my perspective the report failed to erase reasonable doubts that the cataclysmic event was or even could be attributable to one angry and/or demented expatriate. But the troubled country needed answers fast, and, as importantly, reassuring ones. Of course, what gave the report credibility was not so much its belabored content as the impressive bipartisan composition of its signators: Senators Richard Russell and John Sherman Cooper, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, Minority Leader Gerald Ford, former Director of the CIA Allen Dulles, and former President of the World Bank John McCloy. Second-guessing that array of giants and their sleuths was certainly over my pay scale, so I reported, “Seems okay.”

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