Zapruder Film Hearing --- Introduction

Public Hearing -- April 2, 1997






Wednesday, April 2, 1997

1:00 P.M.

Archivist's Reception Room (Room 105)

National Archives and Records Administration

Washington, D.C.


Witnesses: Page

T. Jermey Gunn 6

Robert Brauneis 22

James Lesar 46

Josiah Thompson 60

Moses Weitzman 68

Richard Trask 80

Art Simon 97

Debra Conway 109


1 P R O C E E D I N G S

2 JUDGE TUNHEIM: I call to order this public

3 meeting -- public hearing of the Assassination Records

4 Review Board.

5 Thank you all for coming today. I want to

6 first express my appreciation, the appreciation of the

7 board to the National Archives for permitting us to

8 meet in this historic reception room. We are happy to

9 be here and happy to be able to use the facilities.

10 This is not a meeting or a function of the

11 National Archives. The Assassination Records Review

12 Board is an independent federal agency, not part of the

13 National Archives. I would ask that everyone take care

14 with the antiques and old furniture and rugs that are

15 in this building -- or in this room. We would

16 appreciate that.

17 I also want to thank our witnesses today for

18 agreeing to participate in this important hearing

19 before the board.

20 A little information about the board. The as

21 as records review board members were appointed by

22 President Clinton, confirmed by the Senate, in 1994.


1 We have been at work now for almost three years working

2 on implementing the President John F. Kennedy

3 Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

4 We primarily have been locating, securing,

5 and releasing to the public records related to the

6 tragic assassination of President Kennedy. Much of the

7 records that have been released are records that have

8 been held in Federal Government files. We also have

9 been on the search for additional records, whether they

10 be in the hands of state and local governments or in

11 the hands of private individuals that may wish to

12 donate their material to the United States.

13 This has resulted in an ever-growing

14 collection of the records of the assassination at the

15 National Archives at College Park. Upwards of nearly

16 three and a half million pages are now available to the

17 public at the National Archives.

18 The goal of the Assassination Records Review

19 Board is the goal -- was the goal of Congress in

20 passing the Records Collection Act, is to ensure the

21 broadest possible public release of the records of the

22 assassination of President Kennedy, relevant records


1 which were created before the assassination and

2 certainly all of the records of its investigatory

3 aftermath.

4 It is not, I emphasize, it is not the

5 responsibility of the Review Board to solve remaining

6 mysteries associated with the assassination or to reach

7 conclusions about the assassination itself. Rather, it

8 is the duty of the board and the responsibility of the

9 board to secure and release to the public, to the

10 greatest extent possible, the records that

11 unfortunately have remained shrouded in secrecy through

12 so many years since the events in 1963.

13 Let me turn to today's hearing. The purpose

14 of today's hearing is to seek public comment and advice

15 on what should be done with the camera-original motion

16 picture film of the assassination that was taken by

17 Abraham Zapruder on November 22, 1963. That film has

18 been stored, the original has been stored at the

19 National Archives. It was placed there by Mr.

20 Zapruder's heirs, which now have formed a company, and

21 they claim to possess legal title to the film.

22 So the Review Board is faced with the


1 question of how to properly handle this artifact, the

2 original -- the camera-original film from the day of

3 the assassination. We have assembled today for

4 testimony an interesting group of experts related to

5 legal issues that are associated with this question,

6 and certainly issues relative to the value of the

7 camera-original film taken by Abraham Zapruder, the

8 film itself.

9 I would like to ask before we begin whether

10 any of the other Review Board members have any comments

11 that they would like to make before we get into the

12 witnesses.

13 [No response.]

14 Again, I appreciate all of you coming today.

15 Thank you for attending this hearing. We are going to

16 hear first from the general counsel for the

17 Assassination Records Review Board, Mr. Jeremy Gunn,

18 who is going to outline some of the issues that are

19 presented to the Review Board by the Zapruder film.

20 Mr. Gunn.

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