The United States National Archives Wednesday made public nearly 1,491 documents related to the U.S. government’s investigation into the 1963 assassination of John F Kennedy, the 35th American President.
The disclosure of secret cables, internal memos, and other documents satisfies a deadline set in October by U.S. President Joe Biden. It is also in keeping with an American statute that calls for the release of records in the government’s possession.
John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, established by the National Archives in November 1992, consists of approximately five million pages. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without restrictions on access since the late 1990s.
“Additional documents are expected to be made public next year,” the National Archives said in a statement.
Mr Biden provided agencies with a temporary certification until December 15, 2022, to allow for a review of all documents withheld in full or in part under section 5 of the JFK Act. He also directed agencies “to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency, disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.”
“Any information currently withheld from public disclosure that agencies do not propose for continued postponement beyond December 15, 2022, will be released to the public on that date,” the statement read.
There was no immediate indication that the records contained revelations that could radically reshape the public’s understanding of the events surrounding the November 22, 1963 assassination of Mr Kennedy in Dallas at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald.
But the latest tranche of documents was nonetheless “eagerly anticipated by historians and others who, decades after the Kennedy killing, remain sceptical that, at the height of the cold war, a troubled young man with a mail-order rifle was solely responsible for an assassination that changed the course of American history.”
Oswald’s Ties to Cuba, Russia
The documents include CIA cables and memos discussing Mr Oswald’s previously disclosed but “never fully explained visits to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City as well as discussion, in the days after the assassination, of the potential of Cuban involvement in the killing of Kennedy.”
One CIA cable describes how Mr Oswald phoned the Soviet embassy while in Mexico City to ask for a visa to visit the Soviet Union. He also visited the Cuban embassy, apparently interested in a travel visa that would permit him to visit Cuba and wait there for a Soviet visa. On October 3, more than one month before the assassination, he drove back into the U.S. through a crossing at the Texas border.
Another memo, dated the day after Mr Kennedy’s assassination, says that according to an intercepted phone call in Mexico City, Mr Oswald communicated with a KGB officer while at the Soviet embassy that September.
After Mr Kennedy was killed, Mexican authorities arrested a Mexican employee of the Cuban embassy with whom Mr Oswald had communicated, and she said Mr Oswald had “professed to be a communist and an admirer of Castro”, according to the cable.
A former U.S. Marine officer, Mr Oswald was accused of killing Mr Kennedy. While in police custody, Mr Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby two days after the death of Kennedy.
The new files include several FBI reports on the bureau’s efforts to investigate and surveil major mafia figures like “Santo Trafficante Jr and Sam Giancana,” who are often mentioned in conspiracy theories about Mr Kennedy’s assassination.
In blocking the release of hundreds of records in 2017 because of concerns from the FBI and the CIA, former President Donald Trump cited “potentially irreversible harm”. Even so, about 2,800 other records were released at that time.