John F. Kennedy assassination researchers have been waiting 25 years for the release of 3,100 remaining classified documents relating to the president’s murder.
They didn’t quite get what they wanted, and so we are left with questions 54 years later.
Like many of you, I have had a lifelong fascination with the Kennedy assassination. I’ve read books and watched documentaries. I do not doubt that Oswald acted alone. But I also believe we deserve a full accounting of what happened.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
So I was disappointed when President Donald Trump, after tweeting that he would allow the full release, got cold tweet and blocked several hundred documents, citing national security concerns raised by the FBI and the CIA.
Massive conspiracy? Probably not. Massive bureaucracy? Maybe.
However, 2,800 documents were released, and it will take time to comb through the final remains of Nov. 22, 1963. No one will find a photo of a second gunman, and no one will find a note on CIA letterhead urging Kennedy be killed.
Sometimes, the truth is out there, but in this case, it’s hiding in plain sight: Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Oswald, without a doubt, fired the three shots that killed Kennedy and wounded Texas Gov. John B. Connally. The issue is not whether Oswald was part of a larger conspiracy, but whether the CIA or FBI knew in advance Oswald was that dangerous.
The FBI and the CIA did know about Oswald, but missed that he could kill the president. Simply put, Oswald got by them. An actual conspiracy to hide that fact occurred, as the CIA itself acknowledged recently.
What interests the research community now is perhaps the most fruitful area of further inquiry: Oswald’s September 1963 trip to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City to defect to Cuba.
Was Oswald telling Russian and Cuban agents he was going to kill the president? Was someone impersonating Oswald during the “real” Oswald’s trip on the phone and in person? Are there existing films or tapes of the meetings Oswald had? Some CIA agents said no, but others said yes, and there are inconsistencies in the record.
For example, a man obviously not Oswald was photographed entering the Russian embassy, and yet the Warren Commission asserted that it was, in fact, Oswald. That photo was published in the Warren Report. Why?
My own view? I cannot rule out Oswald had contact with others. The phrase “no credible evidence to suggest” runs all through the Warren Report, giving commissioners room to be wrong. But when I mentioned truth hiding in plain sight, try this on for size:
▪ Oswald wrote what he called a “Historic Diary,” a deluded manifesto calling for the destruction of the U.S. government. He also tried to murder far right activist Gen. Edwin Walker in April 1963 with the very same rifle he used to kill JFK.
▪ In October 1963, the Defense Department had Oswald’s Marines discharge changed from honorable to dishonorable, crippling his ability to get even menial work. That might have affected his feelings toward the president.
▪ Oswald threatened in writing to blow up the Dallas FBI office days before the assassination. An FBI agent tracking him burned the letter and flushed it down a toilet after the shooting.
If it were shown to be the case that Oswald had contact with others, it still may not constitute conspiracy. It may demonstrate his amateurish stature.
Hours before his death, President Kennedy noted that it would be incredibly easy to kill a president. All you needed was a tall building and high-powered rifle.
How does a government kill a democracy? Keep hiding things or lying, even if it’s inconvenient.
No rifle needed.