Testimony of Lawrence Sutherland

Dallas, Texas -- November 18, 1994 Hearing
MR. MARWELL: Mr. Lawrence Sutherland.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Could you, Mr. Sutherland, spell your name for our record?

MR. SUTHERLAND: Yes, it is S-u-t-h-e-r-l-a-n-d.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: And Lawrence with a W?




My name is Lawrence Sutherland. I am a private citizen, and sometimes freelance writer, and I have written in the past on the subject of the Kennedy assassination. I come before the Board today to urge the release of all documents, as have others, under the government control relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. If required, and I rather suspect it will be, additional legislation should be enacted to accomplish this goal.

Such a request for full disclosure has often been heard in the past and, of course, continues today. My perspective, however, is likely quite different from many who have addressed this Board. I believe a full and complete disclosure of all heretofore secret documents will fail to overturn the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone killed President Kennedy. If I am wrong, then let the now hidden facts prove me wrong. The public deserves the truth.

To be sure, the uncovering of new information on the assassination will hardly be enough to establish that there was no conspiracy, but it may, in some small measure, add to the credibility of government. The public deserves a government it can trust. Anything less than full disclosure of government documents will continue to allow doubts to be raised about who participated in the assassination, and for some the answer of who may never be satisfactorily resolved no matter what is disclosed, but we should try.

When public opinion polls consistently reveal high percentages of the American people, as high as 90 percent, believing there was a conspiracy, then there is even more need to open the files. That so many accede to a conspiracy notion is not surprising in a wide range of media over the years, the public has had no shortage of outlets for pro-conspiracy viewpoints.

Oliver Stone's propaganda in JFK is perhaps the most prominent avenue, but is far from the only one. Bookstores, at least those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, often offer half a dozen or more works espousing one conspiracy theory or another. All these theories have given the American people a plethora, if you will, of mania. We have badge man, and umbrella man, and Dal-Tex man, and fake Oswald in Mexico City man, and something even I believe you call it a manhole cover man.

Now it is right and proper that proponents of conspiracy theories be permitted to air their views. They may well be wrong, but they have every right to be wrong. The public's interests are best served, however, by a search for hard facts that stand up to scrutiny. One can only hope that the unreleased documents will aid in that search.

To that end, the Board should endeavor to open for public inspection all documents held by the House Select Committee on Assassinations. That Committee, of course, concluded that there were two gunmen firing at the President, to quote from the 1979 final report: The various scientific projects indicated that there was a high probability that two gunmen were firing at the President

Scientifically, the second gunman was established only by the acoustical study. As you may know, three years after the report was issued, the National Academy of Sciences issued its study seriously undermining the acoustical study.

Furthermore, much of the expert testimony before the House Select Committee in my opinion tends to downplay a conspiracy possibility. I would hope that the release of any additional documents of the House Select Committee might resolve questions about the Committee's credibility. At the very least, we should open doors for knowledge about the assassination that have for too long remained closed.


Any questions?

DR. HALL: Mr. Sutherland, do you believe that it would be proper to disclose the names of informants, agents, or others working under the protection of the government of the United States who have information that bears upon the assassination but the disclosure of whose names might put in jeopardy themselves or their families?

MR. SUTHERLAND: I think that would be perhaps the only exception that I would not. But anything else, autopsy records, photographs, anything among the dozens of cubic feet of documents I think should be released. But not in that particular instance.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Other questions?

[No response.]

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Sutherland. We appreciate your testimony.

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