WASHINGTON, D.C.: The US government on Thursday (Friday in Manila) released a mammoth, long-awaited trove of secret files on the assassination of president John F. Kennedy, but withheld others for further review on national security grounds.
In a statement, the National Archives said that on orders from President Donald Trump it had released 2,891 records related to the November 22, 1963 slaying of JFK in Dallas, Texas.
Kennedy scholars have said the documents were unlikely to contain any bombshell revelations or put to rest the rampant conspiracy theories about the assassination.
One of the documents included a transcript of a November 24, 1963 conversation with J. Edgar Hoover, who was FBI director at the time.
Hoover said the FBI informed police of a threat against the life of Lee Harvey Oswald the night before Oswald was killed. But police did not act on it, Hoover said.
The Warren Commission, which investigated the shooting of the charismatic Kennedy, 46, determined that Oswald, a former Marine sharpshooter, carried out the Kennedy assassination acting alone.
The released files are vast in number and scope, covering everything from FBI directors’ memos to interviews with members of the public in Dallas who came forward trying to provide clues after that singularly unforgettable moment in US history.
Some date into the 1970s and included handwritten official notes which are hard to read.
Trump said in a memorandum he had agreed to hold back for further review some records relating to the killing.
Administration officials who requested anonymity said the majority of those requests had come from the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns,” Trump said.
“I have no choice—today—but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security,” he said.
Trump gave agencies six months—until April 26, 2018—to make their case for why the remaining documents should not be made public.
“At the end of that period, I will order the public disclosure of any information that the agencies cannot demonstrate meets the statutory standard for continued postponement of disclosure,” he said.
The 2,891 records approved for release are viewable on the National Archives website, in full and unredacted form.
“The president wants to ensure that there is full transparency here,” an official said, but “there does remain sensitive information in the records.”
This includes, for example, the identities of informants and “activities that were conducted with the support of foreign partner organizations, either intelligence or law enforcement,” the official said.
The Warren Commission’s formal conclusion that Oswald killed JFK has done little to quell speculation that a more sinister plot was behind the murder of the 35th US president.
Hundreds of books and movies such as the 1991 Oliver Stone film “JFK” have fed the conspiracy industry, pointing the finger at Cold War rivals the Soviet Union or Cuba, the Mafia and even Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Johnson.