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Warren Commission Report: Page 375« Previous | Next »

(CHAPTER VI - Investigation of Possible Conspiracy)

CHAPTER VII - Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives

THE EVIDENCE reviewed above identifies Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin of President Kennedy and indicates that he acted alone in that event. There is no evidence that he had accomplices or that he was involved in any conspiracy directed to the assassination of the President. There remains the question of what impelled Oswald to conceive and to carry out the assassination of the President of the United States. The Commission has considered many possible motives for the assassination, including those which might flow from Oswald's commitment to Marxism or communism, the existence of some personal grievance, a desire to effect changes in the structure of society or simply to go down in history as a well publicized assassin. None of these possibilities satisfactorily explains Oswald's act if it is judged by the standards of reasonable men. The motives of any man, however, must be analyzed in terms of the character and state of mind of the particular individual involved. For a motive that appears incomprehensible to other men may be the moving force of a man whose view of the world has been twisted, possibly by factors of which those around him were only dimly aware. Oswald's complete state of mind and character are now outside of the power of man to know. He cannot, of course, be questioned or observed by those charged with the responsibility for this report or by experts on their behalf. There is, however, a large amount of material available in his writings and in the history of his life which does give some insight into his character and, possibly, into the motives for his act.


Since Oswald is dead, the Commission is not able to reach any definite conclusions as to whether or not he was "sane" under prevailing legal standards. Under our system of justice no forum could properly make that determination unless Oswald were before it. It certainly could not be made by this Commission which, as has been pointed out above, ascertained the facts surrounding the assassination but did not draw conclusions concerning Oswald's legal guilt.
Indications of Oswald's motivation may be obtained from a study of the events, relationships and influences which appear to have been

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