Under a US law made in 1992, the classified documents on the JFK assassination had to be released to the public eye or detained further for review after 25 years. JFK’s assassination changed the landscape of the political field for many years, and may even have had a hand in the outcome in many large events, such as the Vietnam War. Now, 25 years after the decree, documents relating to the event have been released, although 80% of documents relating to the tragedy are already in the public domain and 10% of the unreleased documents are being held back by the FBI for ‘national security reasons’.
John F Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, was not long into his second term as President when he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963, whilst being driven through the streets in a parade of cars. The crime was attributed to Lee Harvey Oswald, who was later assassinated after his arrest. Hundreds of conspiracy theories rose up from the event, from rumours of CIA involvement to aliens, which continue to this day. Some hope that the new releases will bring new light to the case and eradicate many of these theories for good.
2,800 files have been released and people are already thronging the National Archives to read them. Some of the new information highlighted includes an incredible allegation that includes the British media. This file says that a call was made to a Cambridge newspaper, The Cambridge News, 25 minutes before JFK was assassinated, telling them to call the American Embassy for big news. Although this information had previously been released in June, it went unreported for many months, until now.
Not only do the new releases highlight previously released information, but they also implicate that there had been death threats made to the killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, and that the police were pre-warned about a possible assassination attempt towards him. However, they did not take enough action to stop Oswald being shot by former night-club owner, Jack Ruby.
“In this way, the releases have had the chance to change how we view the 60s and the renowned political figures that populated it.”
Some of the most interesting information released that does not directly link to the JFK case is an FBI report suggesting that Lyndon B. Johnson, who was sworn in as 36th President of the United States only 2 hours after the death of JFK, was in fact a member of the KKK in Texas during the early days of his political career. In this way, the releases have had the chance to change how we view the 60s and the renowned political figures that populated it.
However, the files have also acted to increase evidence for some conspiracy theorists. In one memo, it is suggested that the USSR feared the assassination of Kennedy, saying that they reckoned that the deed was performed not by one man, but by several. This is in line with conspiracy theories that suggest that there was another gunman, one who shot at Kennedy from the opposite side of the car from a grassy knoll, which has become infamous since the incident. Also in line with conspiracy theorists is Lee Harvey Oswald’s communication with the KGB at the Russian Embassy in Mexico City. This is a triumph for some conspiracy theorists that suggest communist involvement.
The files have placated many people that were there on the day, people who have followed the story for many years and conspiracy theorists. However, have the files really provided answers, or just many more questions?