Conspiracy theorists pore over release of records

Pres. Trump withholds 300 files due to national security concerns

Alijah Jacob Buada, Online Editor-in-Chief

Many conspiracy theories have surrounded the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the theorists have been dying to know the truth about what really happened by that grassy knoll in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963 — but the wait is not over.

On October 21, Pres. Donald Trump announced that he intended to allow the release of all classified information about the JFK assassination, but due to national security concerns, over 300 documents remain sealed. Under Congress’s JFK Records Act of 1992, all U.S. government records of the assassination were to be stored in the National Archives and publicly disclosed 25 years after the enactment of the Act on October 26, 2017, but it took immense persuasion from the FBI and CIA for Trump to revise his decision on releasing all of the information.

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump said in his tweet on October 21, five days prior to the 25th anniversary of the Act.

Trump is able to order the release of the JFK files unless doing so will outweigh public interest in disclosure or harm military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or any conduct of foreign relations. CIA operatives have urged the President to not release some of the documents, and Trump finally acknowledged their concerns hours before the deadline.

“I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted,” Trump said in his memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. “At the same time, 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. I have no choice — today — but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security.”

Over 2,800 records were released on October 26 and made available to the public on the National Archives site, many encompassing Oswald’s whereabouts prior to the assassination — leaving roughly 300 other records sealed.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and charged with Kennedy’s assassination as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally and Connally’s wife Nellie on a brisk, full day. Oswald was arrested in the nearby Texas Theatre after a store manager notified the theatre’s ticket clerk that Oswald, who was also charged with killing Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, entered the theatre. As Oswald was being escorted to a car heading from the city jail to the county jail two days after the assassination, he was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby — all broadcasted live on American television.

The police confirmed that Oswald shot Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository on the sixth floor of the building’s southeastern corner, but many witnesses and former agents strongly believe that shots were heard from the grassy knoll on the northwest side of the plaza, which was the perfect position to line up a shot at the president. Conspiracy theories largely refer to the famous Zapruder film that captures frame-by-frame the whole assassination, including what theorists believe is the frontal shot.

Of the many conspiracies that have been proposed, most include theories of a second gunman, as well as the involvement of the CIA, the FBI or Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Regardless of what the released files may reveal, the files that are still hidden have led many theorists to speculate that the government is using this extended period of secrecy as a cover-up to hide information on Oswald’s affiliations with the Cubans and Soviets months before he shot Kennedy.

“More transparency in government is better,” AP European History teacher Johnathon Clemons said. “If we’re going 50 years out in the future, then releasing [classified documents] shouldn’t be a national security threat. I’m interested in seeing what’s going to come out.”