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The JFK Files: More Than 50 Years of Questions, Conspiracies

  • VOA News

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy are greeted by an enthusiastic crowd upon their arrival at Dallas Love Field, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963.

Thousands of pages of long-classified documents about the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will be released to the public Thursday.

The documents, contained in more than 3,000 files, will be released automatically under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Record Collections Act of 1992 unless President Donald Trump decides to stop them.

But that is unlikely.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he would allow the release of the documents: “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.”

WATCH: Final Release of JFK Assassination Files Expected Thursday

The documents reportedly contains multiple references to assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City, where he traveled in September 1963, two months before he shot and killed Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Gerald Posner is author of the 1993 book Case Closed, which concluded that Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy.

Posner said the disclosure could be embarrassing to prominent Mexicans, who may have provided information to the CIA and other agencies in the days before and after the assassination. Although the files contain information that is decades old, their release also could potentially compromise the sources and methods used by intelligence agencies.

Former United States President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy sit in a car in front of Blair House during the arrival ceremonies for Habib Bourguiba, president of Tunisia, in Washington, in this handout image taken on May 3, 1961.
Former United States President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy sit in a car in front of Blair House during the arrival ceremonies for Habib Bourguiba, president of Tunisia, in Washington, in this handout image taken on May 3, 1961.

Nothing shocking to be revealed

However, Posner said that there is not likely to be anything shocking revealed specifically about JFK’s assassination.

“There will be no smoking gun in there. There is nothing about a second shooter on the grassy knoll. There is nothing that is going to establish a conspiracy,” he told CNN in an interview this week. “It’s going to fill in our understanding of the history of the case, but anybody who thinks it’s going to turn the case of its head and suddenly show that there are three or four shooters at Dealey Plaza, it’s not the case.”

Earlier this month, political consultant and Trump confident Roger Stone reported on his website that the CIA wants the president to delay the record release for another 25 years.

Stone wrote a book claiming that President Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy’s vice president, was involved in Kennedy’s assassination.

He tweeted Monday that much of the released documents will contain important information that will likely be redacted.

Although Posner and Stone have different conclusions about who killed Kennedy, and why, they have joined together in recent weeks to argue for the release of the documents.

Upon taking office after Kennedy’s death, President Johnson created the Warren Commission, led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, to investigate the killing. The commission concluded in 1964 that Oswald acted alone.

The commission tried to discredit the multiplying conspiracy theories that were the result of the “publicizing of unchecked information,” which led to “myths” and “distorted” interpretations. It didn’t work.

President Kennedy, right, meets with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell D. Taylor, left, in the Oval Office at the White House on Oct. 2, 1963.
President Kennedy, right, meets with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell D. Taylor, left, in the Oval Office at the White House on Oct. 2, 1963.

Conspiracy theories

Government agencies, Hollywood bigwigs and amateur sleuths have floated theories of what happened to Kennedy: a plot by Cold War adversaries like Cuba and the Soviet Union; an elaborate Mafia-backed hit; a covert federal government coup. And it’s been going on for more than 50 years.

Here are some of the events that have fueled conspiracy theories:

Oswald’s murder Nov. 24, 1963, by nightclub owner Jack Ruby led to speculation that Ruby targeted Oswald as part of a larger plot.

The revelations in the 1970s about the various attempts by the Kennedy administration — led by the president’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy — to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro spurred theories that Castro had President Kennedy killed before Kennedy could kill Castro.

Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and returned in 1962. Some speculate that he was recruited by Soviet leaders while there.

Oswald traveled in Mexico City in September 1963, where he met with officials at the Cuban embassy there as he tried to get a visa to travel to Cuba and then to the Soviet Union.

The Kennedy administration attempted to recruit members of the Mafia to kill Castro, leading to theories that the Mafia was somehow involved in the Kennedy assassination.

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