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Breaking down what’s in the JFK assassination files

Dec 23, 2022


Last week, the National Archives released 13,173 documents related to the federal investigation into the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The agency said over 97% of records in the collection are now publicly available.

In 1992, Congress passed the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which dictated that all assassination records be publicly disclosed by October 2017, except for those the president authorized for further withholding. This latest release was brought on as a result of multiple postponements by former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden on the advice of several law enforcement agencies.

The assassination has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories over the decades, as Gallup polling has found that the majority of Americans still believe that more than one person was involved in the plot to kill the president.

This latest release of documents was not expected to include any new bombshells or change the conclusion reached by the commission led by Chief Justice Earl Warren that Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine and communist sympathizer who had defected to the Soviet Union, acted alone in shooting Kennedy.

However, experts said it does shed new light on what law enforcement was doing leading up to the murder. Larry Sabato, a leading Kennedy scholar, said there is evidence the shooting in Dallas could have been prevented and has accused the CIA and FBI of not doing their jobs to stop it.

“The truth is that this assassination was preventable and could have been prevented and should have been prevented if the CIA and FBI were doing their jobs,” Sabato said. “Really, that’s it. Now that’s serious, but you’re not going to find the names of other conspirators in here.”

Other details from the newly released records include documents on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City just weeks before Kennedy’s assassination, Oswald’s visit to Finland from the same year of his Soviet defection, and information on covert U.S. military operations intended to destabilize the Cuban government.

Despite the absence of any earth-shattering revelations, experts are preparing to take a fine toothed comb to this sea of documents. Over the next several months, the records will be analyzed extensively by academics in search of any clues to the mysteries surrounding this landmark event in American history.

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