Never-before-seen personal documents and correspondence preserved for fifty years from my journal and collection of original Warren Commission documents. I have used these documents and my journal as a primary source in my book about the Warren Commission.

Was Lee Harvey Oswald Brainwashed?

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In this exclusive Warren Commission document from my files, General Counsel Rankin asks CIA Director Helms for all current information on Soviet techniques of “mind-conditioning”, in an attempt to address whether Lee Harvey Oswald had been brainwashed into the assassination.

 Because the scan of the original document is slightly blurry, the document has been retyped:


Dear Mr. Helms,

The Commission wishes to consider the possibility that during his stay in the Soviet Union Lee Harvey Oswald may have received medical or psychological treatment or conditioning designed to reinforce or accentuate his apparent hostility to authority and thereby render him a disruptive influence in this country after his return.

We think that a study of the latest Soviet techniques in “mind-conditioning” and so-called “brainwashing” would be helpful in that regard. We would greatly appreciate your making such materials as you may have on that subject available to Mr. Wesley J. Liebler of our staff. Perhaps a conference on this subject between appropriate members of your organization and members of our staff would be desirable.

Your continued cooperation is appreciated.
J. Lee Rankin
General Counsel


 If you find the scanned original document a tad blurry, I suggest using the ZOOM IN function in the display program, opening the document in a new window, or downloading the original.

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** During my time with the Warren Commission, I worked very closely with the commission’s general counsel, J.Lee Rankin, who had been an assistant attorney general and the solicitor general in the Eisenhower Administration from 1953-61. Early in January 1964, Rankin instructed his three secretaries that I should get a a copy of every letter or memorandum that he had signed and approved for distribution. I kept these documents in my chronological files, which was my habit during my years as a lawyer, along with documents that I collected from other members of the staff or other sources, as well as memos for the record that I prepared myself. These documents have all been donated to the National Archives and the entire collection will be available to the public soon.

Oswald Kennedy Assassination

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Howard Willens

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