Based on books by Jim Garrison and Jim Marrs and directed by Oliver Stone, Orleans district attorney Garrison investigates the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In January 1961 President Eisenhower warned the nation against the unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex. In November 1960 John Fitzgerald Kennedy won a narrow victory over Vice President Richard Nixon for the presidency. He inherits a secret war against the Castro regime in Cuba. In April 1961 an invasion at the Bay of Pigs failed because President Kennedy refused to provide air cover for the exiled Cubans. Kennedy complained that the CIA attempted to manipulate him into launching an American invasion of Cuba. In October 1962 Kennedy quarantined Cuba because of Soviet missiles there. Some believed that Kennedy made a secret deal with Khrushchev that he would not invade Cuba. The United States was also involved in Laos and Vietnam. By September 1963 the United States had 16,200 troops in Vietnam. Kennedy doubts that the war can be won. That summer Kennedy had spoken about his vision for peace.
On a country road a woman (Sally Kirkland) is thrown from a speeding car, and she yells at them.
On Friday November 22 President Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline arrive on a plane in Dallas.
In a hospital the injured woman says that they are going to kill Kennedy on Friday, and she asks them to call someone to stop them.
Kennedy travels in an open motorcade, and at 12:30 three shots are fired. News reports that Kennedy has been seriously wounded.
In New Orleans in his office the District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) is told by Lou Ivon (Jay O. Sanders) that the President has been shot. They go to watch the news on television.
Governor Connally was also hit. They believed that a bullet had entered Kennedy from the base of the throat and came out the backside, but this is not confirmed. Walter Cronkite announces that President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Vice President Johnson has left the hospital. Garrison says he is ashamed to be an American today. A witness describes what he saw when Kennedy was shot.
In a bar Guy Bannister (Edward Asner) feels disgusted at the grief and asks why they do not care about the Cubans. He resents “niggers,” Jews, and Catholics, and Jack Martin (Jack Lemmon) suggests he may have had too much to drink.
Garrison hears that the Dallas police believe they have a suspect. Lee Harvey Oswald has been arrested, and he denies the charges.
Bannister and Martin walk in the rain back to Bannister’s office. Bannister accuses Martin of going through his files. Martin says he could write a book about what he has learned. Bannister beats Martin and tells him he did not see anything.
Oswald says he was just a patsy. He does not know what this is about except that he was accused of killing a policeman. He asks for legal assistance. A reporter asks if he was ever in the Free Cuba movement. A man says that is the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Oswald says a policeman hit him. With his family Garrison watches the television reporting. He calls Lou to check the Oswald connection to New Orleans. He sets up a meeting on Sunday at 11.
In his office Garrison, Lou, and others are watching television which reports that Oswald’s rifle killed Kennedy. Lou says David Ferrie was an associate of Oswald and a pilot who was fired for being a homosexual. Oswald’s wife Marina speaks on TV. Garrison’s team discusses Ferrie. They watch the television as Oswald is escorted by two men and is shot by Jack Ruby. Garrison tells them to bring in Ferrie.
Garrison and Lou watch television showing President Lyndon Johnson meeting with military officers. David Ferrie (Joe Pesci) comes in, and Garrison says he was a pilot too in the war. Garrison says they learned he knew Oswald, but Ferrie denies it. Ferrie admits he drove to Houston the day after the assassination during a storm. Ferrie says he also went to Galveston and went hunting. Garrison says he had no weapons and asked how they could hunt. Ferrie says they realized they forgot the guns. Garrison detains him for questioning by the FBI because he finds his story hard to believe.
An FBI official announces that they doubt that Ferrie had anything to do with Oswald, but he was brought in by the New Orleans D.A. and not the FBI. Garrison hears this and tells his staff that they have local crimes to prosecute.
Three years later Garrison is on a plane and talks with Senator Russell Long (Walter Matthau) who doubts the Warren Commission Report because he doubts Oswald could have killed him from the bookstore. He asks how he could fire three rounds in six seconds with a manual bolt-action rifle. He says they have a bullet zigzagging hitting Kennedy and Connally. Garrison says it bothers him too. Long says Oswald was just a decoy. They should find out which sharpshooters were in Dallas that day.
Garrison’s wife Liz (Sissy Spacek) says dinner is almost ready. Jim says that Oswald was interrogated for twelve hours without a lawyer present, and not one word was recorded. At dinner Jim says it is one of the sloppiest investigations he ever saw. Liz says he keeps digging it up again. He doubts that Earl Warren even read what was in the 2,600 volumes. Jim says goodnight to his children and promises Liz a nice Saturday night.
Garrison is reading a book and taking notes on the questioning of Bowers. Another man testifies about their arresting tramps and hobos. A man says three cars came into the area a few minutes before the shooting. He saw two men behind a picket fence. Two other men in uniforms were in the parking lot. During the shooting he saw a commotion, and he believed something had happened on the embankment.
Garrison wakes up sweating, and Liz asks if he is all right. He sits up and talks about how the military tested Oswald’s knowledge of Russian. She complains about his obsession. He says Oswald must have been in military intelligence. He says he has been sleeping for three years.
Outside Garrison with Lou and Bill Broussard (Michael Rooker) talk about the office of Guy Bannister on Lafayette Street. The office has another entrance from another street, and Oswald used that address. Garrison says that after Oswald was arrested with anti-Castro Cubans, he never used that address again. In jail Quigley interrogated Oswald but destroyed his notes. After his release Oswald says on local TV that he is not a Communist but a Marxist-Leninist. Garrison argues that Oswald was taught Russian because he worked in intelligence, and he points out a Naval Intelligence Office and says Bannister was in ONI. Garrison points to buildings that house the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service as well as ONI. He asks why a Communist would spend time there. Garrison says they will track down their anonymous source on Ferrie.
At a horse-race track Garrison asks Jack Martin about when Bannister hit him and pistol-whipped him. He asks Jack why Guy beat him. Jack says Bannister died. Jack says Cubans came and went, and Ferrie was there often. He says it was called Operation Mongoose to invade Cuba again. Jack says the intelligence community were all part of the network. They had a big gun-running operation. Jack says Ferrie was training Nazi-types to shoot. He says Ferrie was crazy. Kennedy told the FBI to shut up the camps, but Jack says the G-men just went through the motions. Jack admits that Oswald was there too. Jack remembers a man with white hair who had money named Clay. Garrison asks if it was Clay Bertrand, and Jack gets nervous and wants to leave. Jack says Garrison is naïve.
In a restaurant Garrison questions Dean Andrews (John Candy) about his testimony to the Warren Commission, and he says he told them whatever came into his head and that he never met Bertrand who called him about representing Oswald and later to upgrade his Marine discharge. Dean says there was no conspiracy, or Bobby Kennedy would have investigated it when he was attorney general. Garrison knows they are friends, but he might charge him with perjury. Off the record Dean says if he answered the question, he would be killed. He says he is a mouse fighting a gorilla. Garrison warns Dean he will put him in jail. Dean stands up and leaves.
Garrison goes inside a prison to question prisoner Willie O’Keefe (Kevin Bacon). They talk outside, and Bill asks him about Clay Bertrand. He admits he was paid for sexual favors, and that is why he is in prison. Willie says they were at Ferrie’s place in the summer of ’63 during a party. Ferrie knows many languages but could not be a priest because of his homosexuality. Willie admits Oswald was there. Willie met with Ferrie, Bertrand, Oswald, and Cubans. Ferrie complains that Kennedy took away their weapons. Ferrie says they could poison Castro. A Cuban complains about Kennedy and wants to put a Texan in the White House. Ferrie says someone should stab Kennedy, and they can blame it on Castro. Bertrand calls it a hair-brain scheme. Ferrie describes how they could do it with triangular cross-fire. Willie says he dismissed it at the time; but after the assassination he got scared, and he was arrested. Willie says Garrison does not know shit. Garrison says he is not promising parole, but he asks why he is talking to them. Willie says Kennedy stole the election from Nixon. He says that he was killed because he was a Communist, and that was a great day. Garrison thanks him and leaves with Bill.
Garrison is driving, and he tells Bill to find Clay Bertrand. Bill asks how they can solve a crime the Warren investigation could not. They go into a restaurant in New Orleans and meet with Lou who shows him photos of the hobos. He says there was no record of their being questioned. The photos show that they were well dressed, and Garrison asks who they are. He says to start looking for them. Lou says that Bowers who saw them at the picket fence was killed in a car accident this year. Lou says that Rose Cheramie, who was thrown from the car, was a dope runner for Jack Ruby. She said Ruby knew Oswald for years. Garrison asks if they can talk to her, and he says she was killed by hit and run. Bill suggests they question Ruby in prison, but Garrison says that would cause too much publicity. Garrison asks Susie Cox (Laurie Metcalf) to report on Oswald, but she could not even get his tax records. She says they have 1,200 documents, but they are all classified as secret. He joined the Marines at 17 but was stationed in Japan where U2 spy flights originated. She says that he renounced his citizenship to become a Soviet citizen. He disappeared for six weeks and then lived well in Minsk and had girls. He met Marina, and they married. Gary Power’s U2 flight was shot down in Russia, and he implied that Oswald could have given them information that enabled them to shoot it down. Susie suspects that the military did not want a peace conference to happen, and Bill objects and asks her to stick to facts. She says Oswald came back to the US and was given a new passport within two days and was permitted to travel. He was never questioned nor debriefed by the CIA. Yet he had defected and brought back a Russian wife. He worked making maps for the US Army and associated with anti-Communists. The league got him a job in the school book depository. Oswald beat his wife Marina who complained about many things. Oswald rented a small room in Dallas under the name O. H. Lee from Bill Williams who has family links to the CIA. Bill is separated from his wife Janet who then let Marina move in and become her best friend. Marina gives birth to Oswald’s second daughter. After his arrest Marina says Oswald was psychotic and violent. Garrison says they taught her what to say to the Warren Commission. Garrison says that Oswald was not a defector but an intelligence agent for the US Government for the rest of his life. Bill asks if he is saying that the intelligence community killed Kennedy, but Garrison says that nitrate tests showed that Oswald did not even fire a rifle that day. He says his palm print on the rifle could have been taken from the morgue. Lou asks why he bought a rifle from a post office box that can be checked when he could have bought it without anyone finding out how he got it. Garrison says it was to frame him. Garrison says they are talking about a crime. Oswald may have been a patsy.
In Dallas on the roof of a building a man describes what he saw. Several witnesses say they saw smoke come from the hedge. A woman says she called to the President just before the shots. She says the driver stopped. She saw a flash of light from the bushes, and that shot took his head off. Then she saw smoke coming from the knoll. A man shows Garrison and Lou the place behind the picket fence where the shot came from. The woman says she saw one man running from the book depository toward the parking lot.
Later another woman says she was driving and saw a pickup truck and a man taking a rifle from it. She later identified photographs of the man driving the truck. Garrison confirms that she saw Jack Ruby the day before he shot Oswald. He asks why she was not more sure in her statement before the Warren Commission.
The woman witness says she went to the grassy knoll and saw only railroad workers and Dallas police. Two men in suits arrested her. She says she heard four to six shots, and the interrogator insists that is impossible. She says she saw a man shooting from the picket fence and tells him to go get him. The interrogator tells her not to talk about this. She tells Garrison that her testimony before the Warren Commission was fabricated.
The woman who saw the pickup truck also says her testimony was changed, and they forged her signature.
A woman talks about Jack Ruby and his strip club where bad people gathered. She says Jack introduced her to Oswald, and she later identified him on television. Garrison asks if she will testify, and she does not want to. She asks if they can kill the President, will they spare her.
In jail Jack Ruby (Brian Doyle-Murray) tells Chief Justice Earl Warren (Jim Garrison) that he cannot tell the truth in Dallas. He says people do not want him to have a retrial. He says his life is in danger. He asks if they can take him back to Washington, but Warren says no. Ruby says he wants to tell the truth.
In the book depository Lou fires an empty gun three times, and Garrison times it as seven seconds. Lou said he could not aim and that a tree was blocking the first two shots. Lou says the rifle is a bad shoulder weapon. He says FBI sharpshooters in a test could not do it. Garrison says they should get the Zapruder film. He asks Lou why they did not shoot Kennedy earlier on another street, and he agrees it would have been much easier. Lou says they had a triangular crossfire set up as a turkey shoot. Garrison aims the rifle.
At night walking in the street Bill asks Joe why people won’t talk. Joe says the other man is Clay Shaw, and Bill asks why he calls himself Clay Bertrand.
Inside Susie tells Garrison, Lou, and others that a man used the name of Oswald to buy the truck for the Friends of Democratic Cuba which has Guy Bannister on the articles of incorporation. Lou says the man was seen at shooting ranges, and he fired at another target and said he thought he was shooting Kennedy. Susie says that the CIA had a camera by the Cuban embassy and that a different man was Oswald in Mexico trying to get back into Cuba. Garrison says they were trying to show that Oswald was connected to Cuba. Susie shows them a LIFE magazine cover with Oswald on it, and Oswald said that was not him. She shows how the shadows show that the picture was altered. Garrison asks if anyone wants to quit, and the others all raise their hands. Bill comes in and says that Clay Bertrand is Clay Shaw. Garrison asks for a sworn statement, but he says no one wants to talk. Liz says he is a nice man and has done much for the city. Garrison says he will invite them there on a Sunday off the record.
At home Garrison sees news about the Vietnam War, and he tells Liz he is talking to Clay Shaw. She says it is Easter and is upset. She says he is missing his family. He tells her to go without him.
In his office Garrison welcomes Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) and asks him if he knows Willie O’Keefe, and he denies it. Garrison describes how they sat at opposite ends of a long table. Clay says he often has someone over to sit that way. Garrison says he paid him to have sex, and Clay says it is nonsense. O’Keefe also said that David Ferrie came to the house with another man, and the four partied until very late. Garrison asks about the name “Clay Bertrand.” Garrison asks if he ever met Oswald, and he says no. Clay says he admired Kennedy. Garrison asks if he was part of an Italian company that was connected to the CIA, and Clay says he is thinking of suing that newspaper. Clay says he trades everywhere. Garrison asks if he ever was a contract agent for the CIA. Clay asks if he would have come then. He asks if he can go and says he is a patriot. Garrison says he is outraged that Clay thinks killing the President is an act of patriotism. Clay bows and leaves. Garrison says they got one of them.
Garrison comes home and tells Liz it was a tough day. He apologizes for the meeting taking so long. She says he could have phoned. She says he cares more about Kennedy than his own family. He explains why he is working so hard for his country. He says it will get worse.
Reporters surround Garrison and Bill, and Lou shows him he is on page one. Inside Lou answers the phone, and outside at a pay phone Ferrie is very angry and says he is a dead man. Lou asks him to meet him.
Inside Garrison asks Ferrie who he is scared of. He tells Lou not to write anything down. Ferrie makes sure no one has a microphone and searches Bill. Ferrie says he taught Oswald everything. They hear a knock, and Ferrie is terrified. Garrison asks Ferrie if he worked for the CIA. Ferrie says you never leave the agency. Garrison asks about Clay and Ruby. Ferrie says everyone was changing sides all the time. He says the CIA and mafia have been working together for years. He mentions Operation Mongoose. Garrison asks who killed the President, and Ferrie says it is too big for them. He says the shooters don’t even know. He says he will die and starts crying. He says he wanted to be a Catholic priest in a monastery. Garrison says if he talks to them on the record, they will protect him. He says they will get to them also. He says he is exhausted.
Lou tells Garrison that people are putting heat on Ferrie. Al thinks he will soften up. Garrison says they will talk tomorrow and that he is going to Washington. Lou says he needs more men. Numa Bertel (Wayne Knight) has evidence that they bugged their offices. Garrison says they have the bastards worried. Lou takes a call and says Ferrie was found dead in his apartment.
Garrison sees the body and asks what happened. He and his men look around. Garrison says Ferrie was the only one who showed any remorse. Susie comes in and says they found Ferrie’s Cuban friend brutally tortured and murdered. Garrison asks the coroner to check Ferrie’s body for medicine. He left two unsigned suicide notes. Bill and Lou argue about it.
Outside in the rain Bill tells his friend Frank that he refuses to talk to the FBI. Frank warns him about his career and says Bill is working the Castro thing. Frank tells him to get in the car, and Bill complies.
Garrison on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial meets with a man (Donald Sutherland) who says he can call him X. Garrison says he has already been warned by the agency. X says he will not name names or say who he represents. They walk as he talks. Everything he tells him is classified top secret. He has been providing weapons for black operations. He helped evacuate Nazis after the war to use them in intelligence. He helped steal elections in Italy in 1947 and affected strikes in France in 1949. They overthrew Korea and the Philippines, Arbenz in Guatemala, and Mosaddegh in Iran. They were in Vietnam in 1954, Indonesia in ’58, and got the Dalai Lama out of Tibet in ’59. He tells what happened in Cuba that made many people angry. In September 1963 he worked on the Kennedy plan to get all US personnel out of Vietnam by the end of ’65. National Security action memo 263 ordered the first thousand troops home from Vietnam by Christmas. However, two weeks before the assassination in November he was told that he was going to the south pole. On his return he heard the President was killed when he was in New Zealand. He says the New Zealand newspapers had the entire story of Oswald killing the President alone published the very next day. He wonders why he was sent so far away. One of his duties was to see to the security for the President in Dallas, and he found out that someone had told the intelligence unit to stand down over the objections of the officer. He says normally they would have placed many agents there. They would have checked all the buildings, and they would have had their own snipers. They would not have let the limousine slow down. He says this is the best indication of a massive plot in Dallas. He says there were some intelligence agents there, but they were not protecting the President. The entire cabinet was in the Far East. One-third of a combat division returning from Germany was in the air at the time of the shooting. At 12:34 the telephone system of Washington went out for an hour. On the plane coming back with Johnson the White House wired them that one man committed the assassination. He says he was not allowed to escape alive. After that everything seemed like make believe. He wondered why Allen Dulles was appointed to investigate Kennedy’s death.
X says he resigned his commission in 1964. Garrison asks if Kennedy was dangerous to the establishment. X says the most important question is why and who benefited. He says that in 1961 top secret documents showed that Kennedy ended the reign of the CIA by making the Joint Chiefs of Staff in charge of all secret operations. X says this was unprecedented, and it sent shock waves along with the firing of Allen Dulles and others. People got very upset. He says Operation Mongoose was centered at the University of Miami, the largest CIA station with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars to wage war against Castro. Kennedy called for budget cuts in defense in March 1963. He says Bell Helicopters was nearly bankrupt before they arranged to sell helicopters for Vietnam. General Dynamics made fighter planes in Fort Worth. X says the war is the organizing principle for society, but Kennedy wanted to end the Cold War. All that ended on November 22, 1963.
Executives and officers complain about what Kennedy is doing. A man says they must control McNamara, and they can rely on Maxwell Taylor.
X says they came up with a plan to get him without anyone being prosecuted. He calls that a coup d’état. They use a special camp near Athens, Greece. X says that on November 26 President Johnson announced that he would not get out of Vietnam, and he signs National Security memo 273 reversing Kennedy’s withdrawal. LBJ says if they get him elected, he will give them their “damn war.” X says that that document provoked the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Garrison says he cannot believe they killed him because he wanted to change things. He asks X to testify, and he laughs that he would be arrested and gagged. X tells him to keep investigating. Garrison says he has little evidence. X says he must come up with a case. He urges him to make arrests to get a chain reaction of people coming forward. He says the truth is on his side. He says he hopes he gets a break, stands up, and walks away.
At a luxurious home Lou arrests Clay Shaw for conspiring to kill President Kennedy and tells him his rights. He admits to the alias Clay Bertrand.
The Attorney General says that Clay Shaw was investigated.
Garrison asks why his name is not in the 2,600 volumes of the Warren Report.
Warren says Garrison has not contradicted the Commission’s conclusion that Oswald was the sole shooter.
Garrison challenges the lies of the government and says those make the country a dangerous place.
News reports the Garrison’s conspiracy case involving Clay Shaw. Garrison and his wife watch the news, and he says he sent a witness up for burglary. Clay Shaw says they are fabrications. Garrison tells his wife that his reputation is being ruined by this one-sided report.
Garrison sees on the news that Martin Luther King was assassinated. His little daughter answers the phone, and a man asks if she wants to be in a beauty contest. Liz asks who she is talking to and takes the phone. Jim says it was a prank call, and it often happens at his office. Liz is upset and says he does not know what is going on in their house. She wants to leave with the kids. He tells her there is nothing to be scared of. Jim promises he will make time for his son. She says he has changed, and he agrees because his eyes have been opened. He says King’s killing is related. She says he attacked Clay because he is a homosexual. She wants her life back, and he says he does too. He says his life is messed up because of this. She says she is leaving, and he tells her to get out. He says somebody has to try. His son asks if they are going away, and Jim says no one is going to kill them. He and two children walk outside and sit on a bench. He says telling the truth can be a scary thing. If you are too scared, the bad guys can take over the country. They ask him to stay with Mom.
Lou says the Attorney General refuses to serve their subpoenas for Allen Dulles and others and for extradition requests. Garrison refuses to bring in Julia Ann Mercer because she could get hurt. Numa says he has hate mail and fan mail, and the IRS is auditing him. Garrison says the National Guard asked him to resign after eighteen years. Susie says Oswald went to see the FBI two weeks before the assassination. She says they questioned Marina, but a note was destroyed. He asks them to think about why they would do that. He says Oswald may have been an informant and the one who warned of the assassination, and the Warren Report never mentioned it. Later the telex was removed from all the cities. Garrison suggests that Oswald may have infiltrated the group. Regardless he was only a foot soldier. Bill asks why the FBI would cover it up, and Susie asks how he can question that. He asks how they could keep this so secret. He says several witnesses are dead. Garrison says he knows Clay Shaw is lying. Bill says it is more likely that the mafia did it; but the government won’t investigate because it used the mob to try to get Castro. Garrison accepts their involvement but believes it was on a lower level. He asks how the mob could have covered up so much. He does not think the mob could pull this off. He says it was a military operation. Bill asks if he is calling the President a murderer. Garrison says a few people on the inside could do it. Bill says he will not go along with this, and he storms out. Lou says he was fighting them all along. Garrison tries to stop the in-fighting, and Lou says he cannot work with Bill. Garrison asks if Lou is putting an ultimatum and accepts his resignation. Lou calls him stubborn and says he is making a mistake. Lou leaves, and Susie asks Garrison if he is being hard.
Television reports that Robert Kennedy won the California primary. Garrison listens to his speech. Then he sees that Robert Kennedy has been shot. He goes to Liz in bed and tells her. She kisses him, and he says he is really scared for the first time. He kisses her and says he has not loved her and the children enough.
Surrounded by people Garrison goes into the courthouse. Inside Clay Shaw is wearing a fine suit. The court session begins. Willie O’Keefe testifies, but his word is questioned. A black man testifies about O’Keefe. Dean Andrews testifies. The judge rules against Garrison on the need for a lawyer to be present when he admitted to the alias Clay Bertrand; Garrison disagrees with his ruling and says that is their case. Garrison says he is charging Clay Shaw with perjury.
Garrison explains that to prove a conspiracy they need to see the Zapruder film which has been kept secret from the public. He shows the film in court. He says the Warren Commission thought they had an open and shut case. This film shows that the three shots were fired in 5.6 seconds. He explains the theory from Arlen Specter that they call the magic bullet theory whereby one bullet makes several turns and makes seven wounds. Later it was found in perfect condition at the hospital. He mocks and questions the proof offered for this theory. He says this is the evidence of a lone assassin. He says they must conclude there was a second rifleman and therefore a conspiracy. He says key witnesses saw evidence of a shot coming from the grassy knoll, and he names them as well as the film. Doctors testify that the back of Kennedy’s head was blasted out by a bullet from the front. He says the autopsy was done by the military, and objections are made and sustained. He says they found eight wounds from two bullets.
Garrison cross-examines the pathologist who was told to cut short his examination. Garrison asks why he took orders from others. The pathologist says there were admirals who told him not to discuss the case. Garrison says he burned his autopsy notes. Garrison says they were told that Kennedy’s brain had disappeared.
Garrison asks what happened that day. He says an epileptic seizure distracted the police so that conspirators could move into position. One team was on the first floor of a nearby building. Another team was in a building, and the third was on the knoll. He says the easy shot would have been earlier. He says the first shot missed. The second shot hit Kennedy in the throat from the front. The third shot hits Kennedy in the back. The fourth shot hits Connally in the back. Another shot misses the car completely. The sixth and fatal shot hits Kennedy in the face from the front, causing his head to move back and to the left. In the confusion the shooters disassembled their weapons, except for Oswald’s rifle. An officer smells gunpowder and questions men on the knoll, but he showed credentials that he was Secret Service. He says he had dirty fingernails, and he later regretted letting him go. Garrison says many men were identifying themselves as Secret Service. He asks where Oswald was. A woman saw him at 12:15 having his lunch. Others saw two men at the window. Oswald later told police that he was in the lunch-room. Garrison says what Oswald would have done according to the Warren Report in a very short time before he was seen in the lunch room by a policeman. Then he buys a coke and slowly goes out a distant exit where cops are gathered. The police had not secured the book depository. Oswald returned to his rooming house and got a gun. Garrison says what Oswald would have to do to kill the policeman and get to a theater in a short time. The witness of the police killing never identified Oswald, and another witness was never asked to identify Oswald.
At 12:44 the police put out a description matching Oswald’s size. Oswald goes into a movie theater and is arrested there. Garrison says it was already decided in Washington. Oswald did not know why he was arrested. The next morning he is booked with killing the President, and the entire country is made to believe that he is guilty. The next day Oswald is brought out and killed by Jack Ruby. The official story spreads around the world. Garrison says that Oswald was the first in a line of patsies. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed because they were against war. He asks about the future of democracy when a President can be murdered without due process. He quotes the saying about treason not prospering because if it does, “none dare call it treason.” He asks why the public has not been allowed to see the Zapruder film or the evidence from the autopsy. He says national security is used to hide the truth, and he calls it fascism. He says this was a coup d’etat because Kennedy wanted to end the Vietnam War. It was a public execution covered up the government. He says the President acts for the business interests of the war profiteers. He says some think he is crazy. He says President Nixon has ordered these records kept secret for 75 years. He says they better find out what happened, or they may have to build a new government. He says patriots must defend their country from their government. He says that humans must create justice because the truth often threatens power. He says some witnesses have come forward with the truth, and people have sent him money to help this case. They want to know the truth, and they want their country back. Truth is the most important value. Kennedy’s murder was one of the most terrible moments in American history. The jury has the hope of humanity in their hands. He asks them to show the world that the government is still of the people, by the people, and for the people. He sits down.
The judge asks the jury for their verdict. The clerk reads that they find Clay Shaw not guilty. Reporters ask Garrison if this confirms the Warren Report, but he says it shows how difficult it is to conduct an investigation against the government. He says he will run again for district attorney.
Titles indicate that in 1979 Covert Operations Director Richard Helms admitted that Clay Shaw had worked for the CIA. In 1978 Jim Garrison was elected an appeals court judge in Louisiana, and he was re-elected in 1988. A Congressional Investigation 1976-79 found a probable conspiracy in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but the files of the House Select Committee on Assassinations are not to be available until 2029.
This docudrama portrays the courageous efforts of a district attorney and his staff to expose the cover-up that followed the assassination of President Kennedy and the effect it had on his family and all those closely involved. The story reflects the continuing concern of many that the United States has become a militaristic empire with vested interests intent on continuing their lucrative businesses that depend on those policies.