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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. VII - Page 469« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Lawrence F. O'brien)

Mr. Adams.
Mr. O'BRIEN. My recollection is that she did enter the room, but I don't recall it was at that time, and I am not sure what specific time.
Mr. Adams.
Well, going back to this official who said the body could not be removed--you were present at that time with Mr. O'Donnell and Mr. Powers?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Yes.
Mr. Adams.
And what happened with respect to that discussion?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Well, Dr. Burkley, the President's physician, entered into that discussion. And as I recall he and this official went into a little room just outside these doors and carried on further discussion that seemed to involve members of the hospital staff and others. And the discussion went on for a period of several minutes. Burkley---Dr. Burkley was quite exercised. It was apparent that this fellow was not going to---he was going to be adamant in his position. And very soon another official arrived on the scene that was described to me as a judge.
Mr. Adams.
Does the name Brown refresh your recollection?
Mr. O'BRIEN. I don't know as I heard his name. But he was then described, as the judge--a judge, and the indication was that he, therefore, was in a higher position of authority than the other official that had been carrying on this discussion with Dr. Burkley.
He was equally adamant. The reference was made, either specifically by him or by someone in the official group, that this had to be treated as just another homicide, and that no other--no special considerations could be given to the problem. That, of course, increased our concern about Mrs. Kennedy, who said she would not leave her husband, and that we could envision Mrs. Kennedy in that state in the hospital for hours or even longer. So, therefore, it was our determination that the President should be taken from the hospital.
Mr. Adams.
This was the determination of you, Mr. O'Donnell, and Dr. Burkley?
Mr. O'BRIEN. That is right.
Mr. Adams.
Then what happened?
Mr. O'BRIEN. The casket was brought out from the emergency room, wheeled out through these two folding doors. And the members of the Secret Service gathered around it. They had made a determination on their own as to the exit. An ambulance was waiting. Preparations had been made by the Secret Service to accomplish this. And we all--Mr. O'Donnell, Mr. Powers and I, General McHugh, and two or three members of the Secret Service proceeded to push the coffin down this corridor.
My recollection is that objections were still being raised by some or all officials. My recollection is also that we paid little heed to it.
Mr. Adams.
These were vigorous objections, I gather.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I would say they were. And the only very minor problem that occurred in reaching the exit was that the priest who was third in point of arrival was still present. The other two priests had departed after expressing their condolences to Mrs. Kennedy. But this priest was standing in the corridor and was rather insistent that he formalize some prayers at that point. And I suggested to him that he step aside. Our concern still was whether or not there was going to be an effective block put in our way.
Mr. Adams.
And who accompanied Mrs. Kennedy at that time?
Mr. O'BRIEN. I believe in the grouping behind the casket that at one time Mr. O'Donnell, another time me, and another time perhaps Mr. Powers--but among us we escorted her along.
Mr. Adams.
Then when you finally got the casket out through this corridor, and got it into the ambulance, how did you go to the airport?
Mr. O'BRIEN. In a car that was parked alongside the ambulance. The driver in the car--Mrs. Kennedy went into the ambulance. And Mr. O'Donnell, Mr. Powers, and I went into the back seat of this car.
Mr. Adams.
Was this a police car?
Mr. O'BRIEN. It was an official car of some sort.
Mr. Adams.
At that time do you know whether or not the Vice President had left the hospital?
Mr. O'BRIEN. I do not know.
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