Mark Lane (born February 24, 1927) is an American attorney and former New York state legislator, civil rights activist, and Vietnam war-crimes investigator. He is best known as a leading researcher, author, and conspiracy theorist on the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. From his 1966 number-one bestselling critique of the Warren Commission, Rush to Judgment, to The Last Word: My Indictment of the CIA in the Murder of JFK, published in 2011, Lane has written at least four major works on the JFK assassination and no fewer than ten books overall.
Four weeks after the assassination of Kennedy on November 22, Lane published an article in the National Guardian dealing in-depth with 15 questions regarding statements by public officials about the murders of J. D. Tippit and John F. Kennedy from the perspective of a defense attorney. The statements were about the witnesses who claimed to have seen Oswald on the sixth floor of the schoolbook depository; the paraffin test which, to Lane, indicated that Oswald had not fired a rifle recently; the conflicting claims about the rifle which at first was, as the police announced, a German Mauser and afterwards a WWII Mannlicher-Carcano; the Parkland Hospital doctors announcing an entrance wound in the throat, and the role of the FBI and the press, who convicted Oswald before his guilt was proven. In June 1964, according to historian Peter Knight, Bertrand Russell, “prompted by the emerging work of the lawyer Mark Lane in the US … rallied support from other noteworthy and left-leaning compatriots to form a Who Killed Kennedy Committee, members of which included Michael Foot MP, the wife of Tony Benn MP, the publisher Victor Gollancz, the writers John Arden and J. B. Priestley, and the Oxford history professor Hugh Trevor-Roper.” Russell published a highly critical article weeks before the Warren Commission Report was published, setting forth “16 Questions on the Assassination” and equating the Oswald case with the Dreyfus affair of late nineteenth-century France in which the state wrongly convicted an innocent man. Russell also criticized the American press for failing to heed any voices critical of the official version.”
Lane applied to the Warren Commission to represent the interests of Lee Harvey Oswald, but the Commission rejected his request. Three months later Walter E. Craig, president of the American Bar Association, was appointed by the Commission to represent the interests of Oswald. Craig himself stated that he was not counsel for Oswald; and official records do not indicate that Craig or his associates named, cross-examined, or interviewed witnesses of their own. Lane continued to search for clues for Oswald’s innocence. He was called to testify before the Commission but was not permitted to cross-examine witnesses. According to R. Andrew Kiel in J. Edgar Hoover: The Father of the Cold War, “After the Warren Commission’s final report was completed in September 1964, Lane interviewed numerous witnesses ignored by the Commission.”
Lane provided testimony to the Warren Commission in Washington, D.C. on March 4, 1964. Lane testified that he had contacted witness Helen Markham sometime within the five days preceding his appearance before the Commission and that she had described Tippit’s killer to him as “short, a little on the heavy side, and his hair was somewhat bushy”. He added, “I think it is fair to state that an accurate description of Oswald would be average height, quite slender with thin and receding hair.”
In addressing the speculation that Markham’s description of Tippet’s killer was not consistent with the appearance of Oswald, the Warren Commission stated that they had reviewed the telephone transcript in which she was alleged to have made it. The Commission wrote: “A review of the complete transcript has satisfied the Commission that Mrs. Markham strongly reaffirmed her positive identification of Oswald and denied having described the killer as short, stocky and having bushy hair.”
Lane published an indictment of the Warren Commission, entitled Rush to Judgment, using these interviews as well as evidence from the 26 volumes of the Commission’s report. Despite the fact that the majority of Mark Lane’s material for his book came from the Warren Report itself, as well as from interviews with those who were at the scene, sixteen publishers canceled contracts before Rush to Judgment was published.” The book became a number one best seller and spent 29 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The book criticizes in detail the work and conclusions of the Warren Commission and remains one of the most remarkable books about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was adapted into a documentary film in 1966.