Friday, November 22, 1963. 12:30pm – John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s presidential motorcade reached Dealey Plaza, Dallas. Kennedy, the 35th US President, was riding with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally and Connally’s wife, Nellie. Thousands of people gathered near the Plaza to welcome the president. Both the president and his wife were greeting the people with a smile. All of a sudden, the sound of firing shook the Plaza and JFK fell down in his Limousine. He was fatally shot by former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald.
Although Oswald was initially arrested for the murder of police officer J D Tippit (who was killed about 45 minutes after Kennedy was shot), later he was charged with the murder of the president. Two days later (on November 24, 1963), Oswald – while being transferred from the city jail to the county jail – was fatally shot by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby in full view of television cameras broadcasting live.
American officials, who investigated the Kennedy murder case, didn’t mention any other name in their reports that were kept secret for more than 50 years. On October 26, 2017, the concerned authorities in the US released more than 2,800 previously classified records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy. In fact, President Donald Trump ordered the release of the classified Kennedy assassination records. However, he held back other “sensitive” documents under pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On October 30, the FBI announced that the remaining documents would be released by The National Archives on a rolling basis in near future. According to sources close to the Bureau, the withheld papers will contain redactions to safeguard the individuals who are still alive. These people provided information to FBI and CIA officials during the investigation of Kennedy’s death.
In fact, the US Congress had instructed the FBI in 1992 to make the Kennedy-files public. The Congress also set a deadline, as it asked the Bureau to publish the reports on October 26, 2017. As per the JFK Assassination Record Collection Act enacted by the Congress in 1992, the president will make a final decision in this regard in 2017.
In the last week of October, President Trump announced that more information would be released soon. However, he did not confirm whether all the information would be revealed. He tweeted: “JFK Files are being carefully released. In the end, there will be great transparency. It is my hope to get just about everything to public!”
Many believe that the ‘real truth’ still remains unknown, as the released files don’t answer the major (and for many, still-lingering) question of whether anyone other than Oswald was involved in the assassination, thus, keeping the conspiracy theory alive.
One of the released reports reveals that the CIA had tapped Oswald’s phone a couple of months before the assassination. The CIA officials came to know that Oswald talked to a KGB officer posted at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico. They thought that he might be a KGB agent!
The speculation was not baseless, as Oswald was honourably discharged from the Marine Corps and defected to Soviet Union in October 1959. He lived in the Belarusian city of Minsk until June 1962. Later, he returned to the US with his Russian wife Marina and settled in Dallas.
Another released report shows that after the detention of Oswald, the FBI received a phone call and the caller said that the killer of JKF would be killed. According to sources, then-FBI Director J Edgar Hoover received the call on November 24, 1963. The caller told Hoover that he was member of the committee that was organised to kill Oswald. During interrogation, Oswald’s murderer Ruby repeatedly said that he was the only one behind the murder. It’s still not clear whether Ruby made the phone call on November 24.
Historians are not expecting anything new or surprising hidden in the files, which will be released soon. In his article ‘The Latest Release of JFK Documents Won’t End the Conspiracy Theories’ published in ‘The Weekly Standard’ on October 31, 2017, Philip Terzian wrote: “Unlike President William McKinley’s assassin, Kennedy’s killer was, himself, murdered a few days later, thereby, adding mystery and melodrama to national tragedy, and thwarting a judicial accounting.” He added: “A criminal trial and verdict for Oswald might well have brought closure, as we would now say; but perhaps not. Then again, the three previous presidential assassinations (McKinley, James A Garfield and Abraham Lincoln) involved a gunman standing inches away from his victim, while Oswald opened fire out of sight from the window of a high-rise building, like the recent Las Vegas sniper, whose death at the scene has, inevitably, spawned its own conspiracy theories.”
Gerald Posner, the author of the book ‘Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK’, said that many people thought that the scenario would change completely when the FBI released the files. It’s a wrong perception, according to the expert on the Kennedy assassination. Posner stressed: “There may be people who were informing to the CIA at the time who have moved on to careers in politics and business, and the revelation that they were informing will be embarrassing to them.”
The FBI is taking time to release some files because those files contain sensitive information. Historians believe that if the Bureau releases all the files, then it may become clear that the FBI and the CIA hid some information. There are so many questions that are yet to be answered. What happened during Oswald’s Mexico tour just a week before JFK’s assassination? Or how America tried to kill legendary Cuban leader Fidel Castro?
It’s up to President Trump to decide whether to release all the files. But, the answer is blowing in the wind!