Betty Arenson | Still Not Convinced About Committees

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Reader Richard Myers (June 15) takes exception with my June 9 commentary stating “commissions” is a dressed-up word for “committee” and both, when set up by the government, are usually, if not always, useless. While Myers disagrees that “everyone” knows that, he was unable to name a successful one.

Among well-known commissions was the Warren Commission, which gave us next to no revelations, certainly no significant ones. Myers was an adult when the John F. Kennedy assassination took place and should remember that commission very well.

The site “History” and others provide pertinent information on the topic.

Then-President Lyndon B. Johnson established the commission, with some rejecting serving on it. The lead ended up being Chief Justice Earl Warren. He was a “close friend” of the Kennedy family. The investigation turned murky at best.

Warren denied other members access to key components, like the autopsy photos, and forbade interviews with some witnesses, even trying to bar access to interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy. The CIA and FBI were not forthcoming with their earlier “monitoring“ of Lee Harvey Oswald, fearing they’d be blamed for not preventing the obvious. In the end, the 1964 888-page report was not without questions.

Publicly the Kennedy family and LBJ accepted the findings of a “lone gunman” but not privately, including Bobby Kennedy.

The books were closed until the Zapruder film, amateur but of great detail, on the topic, spurred the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations to reopen the investigation. The HSCA issued its final report in 1979 and accepted that Oswald fired two shots that killed JFK and wounded then-Texas Gov. John Connally, but then stated that “there was a high probability’ of a second gunman and the assassination was “a result of an unspecified conspiracy.” So much for muddy waters and no tangible findings.

In 1964, 56 % of public agreed with the lone-gunman theory; as of 2018 two-thirds believed there was some conspiracy.

For the sake of space, I won’t go into as much detail about the 9/11 Commission but a good overview can be read at for an executive summary. You will glean next to nothing. Uncivil radicals were out to kill Americans for decades; many red flags were missed and so on.

There are a few words from the government’s collective that should always get our attention: committee, commission, comprehensive and transparency.

There have been over 150 congressional commissions established since 1989. Not one rings a bell as to publicizing a timely, significant finding. Yes, I remain unconvinced that commissions set up by the government are anything more than showboating.

Betty Arenson


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