Jonathan Simon


Thirty-four years ago, the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, popularly known as the Warren Commission, published its famous report. The Commission's most famous conclusion, that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot and killed President John F. Kennedy, has been the subject of ceaseless public debate. Such attention, of course, is understandable. The theory of a "lone gunman" seems too mundane an explanation for the closest crime a republic can have to regicide. The overwhelming popular interest in the Commission's judgment, however, has had the unfortunate consequence of deflecting analysis away from the Commission itself as a political and cultural event. It has prevented reflection on the meaning of the Commission as an artifact of legal history. In this Article, I begin a larger project that explores the

significance of the Kennedy assassination by reflecting on a narrow but pivotal part of the Commission's work: the life-history of Lee Harvey Oswald that comprises the majority of chapter seven of the Warren Report. I am particularly interested in the ways in which the Report's psychological biography of Oswald - assembled primarily by three young members of the Commission's staff - opens a unique window into the history of what Michel Foucault calls "disciplinary power." I am also interested in exploring the ways in which an examination of the Warren Report's biography of Oswald can suggest aspects of criminological truth missed by Foucault.