By Bryce Bower, Staff Writer
On July 24, October 26, and November 3 of this year, the US National Archives released over 5,000 documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Many documents are between 1 and 10 pages long, while some are more than 400 pages. I have spent some time in the past few weeks reading through a couple hundred pages, secretly hoping to find some overlooked piece of information. While I did not find out why the actual bullet that killed JFK disappeared from the hospital, why his original autopsy report was mysteriously burned in a fire, why the FBI is missing the impact frames from the assassination video, or how the mysterious deaths of 18 material witnesses beat 100 quadrillion to 1 odds, I did find some interesting things.
When I first heard about the release of the records, my first thought was, “Why now?” Why are they releasing these records exactly 54 years later?
In 1992, Congress passed the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act which mandated that all government agencies had to transfer any documents related to the assassination of JFK to the National Archives, which then created the JFK Assassination Records Collection. The Collection consists of approximately 5 million pages of records. Approximately 88% of the records have been open in full since 1992, but the remaining 12% were authorized for withholding by the Assassination Records Review Board. The Act states, “Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act. Unless the President certifies that it would [compromise defense, military intelligence, or foreign relations.]” Trump did just that– recently tweeting that he would withhold classified information in the records that would give personal information of those who were still alive.
Despite the hundreds of pages I have read through, I have only skimmed the surface of what is now available. Most of the documents I read through were very boring and I got tired of reading about potential threats from Cuban nationalists; however, I did find some diamonds in the rough. Plans to infiltrate Cuba’s farmland with genetically modified crops that would not produce food and a proposed invasion of Cuba with 261,000 troops really stood out to me. Locations of CIA Safe-houses in Mexico are redacted from documents, along with locations of training sites and the names of organizations that are actually fronts for the Agency. I wonder how many of these are still active today.
The Soviets’ response to Kennedy’s assassination was one of remorse. They were genuinely upset to hear that cool-headed Kennedy had been killed, and was to be replaced by the unknown Lyndon B. Johnson. One record of radiotelephone transcripts tells of the reaction of those in the German Democratic Republic (Deutsches Demokratisches Republik). Prominent members of the German Communist party flew the DDR flag with red white and blue trim, and were as concerned as the Russians. However, East German citizens believed that JFK was “murdered because he was a supporter of peace; because he was one of the first to sign the Moscow test-ban treaty; and because he took steps against racial discrimination in the United States.” Some thought that the Russians were responsible, and that this was to be the start of World War 3.
According to the some of the newly released records, Moscow thought that Lyndon Johnson had orchestrated the assassination, the DDR thought it was a far-right organization’s attempt at a coup, and many Americans originally thought it was a Soviet conspiracy. As if the Cold War was not complex enough already, everyone blamed everyone else for the murder of JFK.
The most interesting document I found was on Lee Harvey Oswald, the “alleged” shooter of John F. Kennedy. The document entailed the report of a “historically reliable” source from the KGB. This American mole informed the CIA that in 1959 Lee Harvey Oswald visited Russia under pretext of a sightseeing trip. Oswald then went to the KGB and tried to defect to the Soviets. According to the source, after “inquiry”, they declared Lee Harvey Oswald mentally unstable. They told him that he would have to return to the United States after his tourist stay was up. Disheartened by the news, Oswald went back to his hotel room and apparently tried to commit suicide. After he missed a scheduled sightseeing appointment, the Soviets came looking for him. They broke into his room and found him with one of his wrists badly cut. Imagine what would have been different if had Oswald passed away in 1959.
I have personally visited the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas, which is dedicated to the life and death of President Kennedy. The museum itself makes it very apparent that many aspects of the investigation were laughably mishandled. I would go so far as to say that those who run the museum believe the assassination was performed by an organization beyond just Oswald. They display the exact square yard where Oswald’s rifle rested on the window sill, yet also bring up and question the incredibly mysterious happenings that I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article. They show the commonly accepted theory, but hint at something hidden. There are so many strange circumstances regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and I encourage everyone to do some digging of their own.