Entry dated :: May 5, 1965
Washington DC
Gerald Ford:
The Mole in the Warren Commission

I had come to Washington to meet with two members of the Warren Commission, Gerald Ford, a Republican, who was the House minority leader, and John Sherman Cooper, a Republican, and the senior senator from Kentucky. But first, at the suggestion of Rankin, I had lunch with Dr. Alfred Goldberg, a Defense Department historian, who had helped write the “Warren Report.” He also, according to Rankin, had worked for the CIA. Goldberg insisted on meeting me at noon at the All-State Cafeteria. He was a tall, thin man with horn-rimmed glasses and a hawk-like nose. We had a quick hamburger at an outside picnic table, and then he suggested we take a drive. As we drove in slow circles around Washington in his Ford station wagon, he spoke in a quiet voice, almost a whisper at times, about his role as a “historian” on the commission. He was the only non-lawyer on the staff. He was also the only person with an intelligence background (except for former CIA Director Allan Dulles, who had suggested Goldberg to Rankin.)
Goldberg said that the staff lacked “perspective on the national security dimension.” When I asked how that deficiency impinged on the investigation, he looked at me sharply and said, “You are treading on very sensitive ground here. Not a word of this can be mentioned in your thesis, because there are issues that cannot be made public.” I asked whether the FBI, which did the initial investigation, was aware of these issues. He did not reply, and, a few minutes later dropped me back at the All-State Cafeteria. I proceeded on to the Capitol.
Congressman Ford was the first commissioner I was to see. I arrived at Room 230, the House minority leader’s spacious suite of offices in the Sam Rayburn Building, promptly at 3:45 PM. Ford greeted me personally, pumping my hand with the powerful grip of an ex-football star. He was taller than I expected, with somewhat unruly patches of flaming red hair. He directed me to a chair next to his desk. Conspicuously displayed on it was a copy of an article by Andrew Hacker in the New York Times Magazine. He had apparently done his homework on my professor. He then turned on his office tape recorder for “his office record.”
The interview lasted exactly one hour. I asked the questions, Ford gave the answers.
Q. What role did the Commission play in selecting its staff?
A. We agreed on J. Lee Rankin--as it turns out a good choice--then Rankin submitted staff and biographies, and we approved. We, more or less, took his word. I didn't know any one of them. We approved purely on Rankin's say-so.
Q. Did the commission act as a sort of board of directors?
A. I didn't. I had my own independent investigation. I had [Gerald] Stiles, and Ex-Congressman Ray, and a Harvard lawyer, Frank Fallon, on my payroll, and they evaluated testimony.
Q. There names are not listed in the Commission’s administrative file.
A. You have the files? I kept these people from the commission because I wanted to be sure they were independently there.
Q. Was there disagreement on the bullet that hit Governor Connally?
A. There was a wide spectrum of opinion among the Commission. I was closest to the staff position that Connally was hit by the same bullet that hit Kennedy. Senator Russell was at the opposite extreme. He believed that Connally was hit by a separate bullet. The other members ranged in between us.
Q. Were there other areas of disagreement?
A. Yes. I can note two. The first draft of the report categorically stated there was “no conspiracy.” But after objections it was changed to, “No evidence was found.” And in the chapter on Oswald's motivation, I added “Marxism.”
Q. How was it determined when to wind up?
A. The deadline was September 28, 1964, because we wanted to finish the report before the November election. Otherwise, it might become an issue.

When I asked him about the division of responsibility in the investigation, and showed him the chart that J. Lee Rankin had given me, he looked flustered, and then asked a staff aid to turn off the recorder. “I left all the nitty-gritty to Rankin. He was Warren’s man, and I had the Republican side of Congress to run.” Ending the interview, he said, “By all means, write your thesis. I'm writing a book on the subject.”

Questions? Email me at edepstein@worldnet.att.net
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