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Warren Commission Divides Task into Six Areas of Inquiry

Jan. 11, 1964 - The staff of the commission investigating President Kennedy’s assassination has divided its job into six broad areas of inquiry. One covers every detail of Lee Harvey Oswald’s activities on the day of the assassination, Nov. 22. Oswald was charged with the crime. A second topic is the life and background of Oswald — an attempt to reconstruct his associations, ideas, and psychology. Oswald’s career in the Marine Corps and his stay in the Soviet Union will be handled separately as a third. His murder in the Dallas police station will be the fourth subject, including all the controversial questions of how it was allowed to happen. Fifth will be the story of Jack Ruby, the nightclub operator who slipped into the police station and shot Oswald. This will be a particularly delicate subject because of possible conflict with Ruby’s trial. Finally, the staff will inquire exhaustively into the procedures used to protect President Kennedy. This will involve a scrutiny of the performances of the Secret Service, the FBI, and the Dallas police, as well as the influence, if any, of hate movements in the Dallas community.

The commission’s counsel, J. Lee Rankin, outlined the plan in an interview. He said it was clear to him that the job could not be done in a matter of weeks, but he still hoped the inquiry could be finished six months from now. He recognized the importance of not letting it drag on. “The commission realizes that the country wants to be sure of the facts,” Mr. Rankin said. “The first thing is to do the job right. The second is to do it as quickly as possible.” Mr. Rankin said the commission expected to have recommendations as well as factual findings — recommendations, for example, on how better to protect Presidents in the future and how to handle explosive criminal cases like Oswald’s without endangering fair trial and, as it happened, life. “We think it would be wise,” Mr. Rankin said, “to reassure this country and the world that we can protect our President, but that accused criminals can be treated fairly.”


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