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Secret Files on the Kennedy Assassination Released

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More stories from Greg Rhodes '18

On Thursday, October 26th, President Trump allowed the release of most of the previously classified files on the J.F.K. assassination.  The release had been scheduled for then, ever since Congress’s 1992 decision that assassination files could be released in 25 years.

The information in the files definitively revealed some previously unknown facts that many have long suspected to be true.  For instance, the CIA tried to assassinate Fidel Castro hundreds of times and even worked closely with the American mafia to do it.  The files also revealed how Kennedy’s assassination was viewed by the Soviet Union, who were surprised and even somewhat disappointed Kennedy was murdered, and President Johnson, who didn’t fully believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

What made the upcoming release of the files so sensational to begin with was the prevalence of conspiracy theories that surround President Kennedy’s assassination.  A 2013 Gallup poll found that 61% of Americans believed that Kennedy’s assassination was the result of a conspiracy, not the work of a lone gunman, as claimed in the Warren Commission.  The poll even notes that this percentage has actually decreased over the last 50 years.

Conspiracy theories about Kennedy’s assassination include: the American mafia assassinating Kennedy because his brother—Attorney General Robert Kennedy—was cracking down on organized crime, the CIA assassinating Kennedy because he was going to dissolve the agency or deconstruct the military industrial complex, and even, then Vice-President, Lyndon B. Johnson planning the assassination in order to take the Presidency.  Many theories were even developed into an Academy Award-winning film by Oliver Stone, which adds another interesting element to this whole story.    

It turns out one of the biggest reasons Congress decided to set the 2017 release date for the J.F.K. files was because of Stone’s film.  The files were originally set to be released in 2029 but, according to the Assassination Records Review Board, the questions posed in Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK were so provocative they actually created pressure on the government to release the information early.  So, in 1992, Congress and President Bush (41) passed legislation called the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, which set the date of the files’ release at October 26th 2017.

It is also interesting that Trump initially chose not to release all of the files, under recommendation of the CIA.  Considering the President has openly doubted information gathered by American intelligence agencies in the past, like the CIA’s confirmation that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, the fact that he initially respected the CIA’s recommendation might have suggested Trump had developed greater trust in his intelligence agencies.

However, on Friday October 27th, Trump did announce that he would also release the remaining files.  Trump explained his reasoning for his insistence on releasing all the files in a tweet:  “I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest.”

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Secret Files on the Kennedy Assassination Released