LAST WORD: Trump’s decision to block JFK assassination files only fuels conspiracy fires
Thursday was the day scheduled 25 years ago when a collection of more than 3,100 records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that have never been seen by the public were to finally be released.
But President Donald Trump, who previously indicated he would unveil them all, has yielded to appeals from the CIA and FBI by blocking the release of hundreds of those files. To me, that only lends support to the vast number of conspiracy theorists who believe there was much more behind Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, than the actions of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Wading into the morass of information about the JFK assassination is a daunting prospect. Ask my good friend Wally, who has read as many books as he can find about the killing of our 35th president. There are hundreds of them. And while I haven’t read them, I’ve heard Wally’s synopses in our many conversations, enough to make me think there is more to the story than the Warren Commission report gives us.
The Warren Commission in 1964 concluded that Oswald had been the lone gunman, and another congressional probe in 1979 found no evidence to support the theory that the CIA had been involved. But there is a lot of convincing “evidence” from eyewitnesses and others involved in the events of that day that indicate otherwise.
“I have no choice,” Trump said of his decision Thursday to block some of the records. He cited “potentially irreversible harm” to national security if he were to allow all records to come out now. The Associated Press reported that he “placed those files under a six-month review while letting 2,800 others come out, racing a deadline to honor a law mandating their release.”
Michael E. Miller, in an article in the Washington Post, wrote, “One author estimated that conspiracy theorists have accused ’42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people by name of being involved in the assassination.’ According to a 2013 poll, no less than 62 percent of Americans believe there was a broader plot beyond just Lee Harvey Oswald on the sixth floor overlooking Dealey plaza in Dallas.”
The U.S. House of Representatives put together a Select Committee on Assassinations to reinvestigate the killing and concluded in 1978 that there was “probably” a conspiracy involving a second gunman on the now infamous “grassy knoll.” That evidence was disputed many years later, but books, articles, interviews and documentaries have perpetuated the possibilities throughout the 54 years since that fateful day in Dallas.
“This ‘great contradiction,’ as one JFK scholar put it, created room for conspiracy theories to grow,” Miller wrote.
“The government has had 25 years — with a known end-date–to prepare #JFKfiles for release,” University of Virginia historian Larry Sabato tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Deadline is here. Chaos.”
Trump’s cooperation with the FBI and CIA in holding back some of the heretofore unseen records has only added fuel to the conspiracy fires.
Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.