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In his 2000 book, “Passion for Truth,” he noted how his father had complained bitterly that the U.S. government had broken its promise to pay a bonus to World War I veterans.

“Figuratively, ” he wrote, “I have been on my way to Washington ever since, to get my father’s bonus.”

He made his name sending six Teamsters’ officials to prison for conspiracy to misuse union dues, a victory noticed by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. It helped pave the way for Mr. Specter’s service as a staff lawyer on the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

He became known as the architect of the “single-bullet theory” that buttressed the finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin. Although it has withstood the test of time, the theory was considered by some - and depicted by director Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “JFK” - as a magic-bullet concoction designed to cover up a perceived right-wing conspiracy.