John F. Kennedy

For Heaven's Sake, Just Release the Rest of the JFK Files

Is Donald Trump really too weak to do this?

|

Yesterday the government was supposed to declassify its final files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That was the deadline set by the JFK Records Act of 1992, but there was an escape hatch: The president had the power to withhold some of the documents on national security grounds. After much vacillating, Donald Trump decided at the last minute to keep some files classified.

A day later, he's still vacillating. The president is "unhappy" about what happened, according to CNN:

Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump wanted more of the documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination released. But when the final requests from government agencies hit his desk on Thursday, there wasn't enough time to go through the hundreds of records the agencies wanted to keep secret, two US officials said.

As the deadline ticked away, Trump was confronted with a choice: release all of the 3,100 records without any redactions, or accept the redactions of intelligence and law enforcement agencies and release 2,800 of those documents.

Trump agreed to the second option, while also requiring agencies to conduct a secondary review of the information they believed should be redacted within 180 days. But Trump was still miffed by his decision. "He was unhappy with the level of redactions," a White House official said, adding that Trump believed the agencies were "not meeting the spirit of the law."

If this is actually true, it should put to rest any Trumpian fears that the "deep state" is trying to depose him. What intelligence agency would want to get rid of a president so easily manipulated?

You don't need to buy any of the conspiracy theories about John F. Kennedy's death to see that this is a historically significant event that still has several open questions around it, especially with regard to Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City shortly before the shooting. And you don't need to be personally interested in the topic to be appalled that the feds are still suppressing information about an incident that took place more than half a century ago. (No, I don't buy the halfhearted excuse that the withheld files may include relatively recent documents added to the stockpile in the 1990s. Even if you think those should still be classified, they aren't all that's still classified. For example: Jefferson Morley, author of a new biography of former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, notes that Angleton's secret Senate testimony from 1975 is among the missing material.)

The deadline for the remaining documents to be reviewed is April 26, 2018. Maybe we'll see more material after that, but I'm not optimistic. If the agencies involved can drag their feet for this long, they can drag them for another six months. In the disappointed words of Gerald Posner, one of the better-known advocates of the lone-assassin theory: "They have only had 25 years to get ready."

Advertisement

NEXT: N.J. Cops Say Someone Might Distribute Marijuana Edibles on Halloween

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If this doesn’t make you believe that Aliens were behind it than you need to open your damn eyes. Fucking sheep.

    1. There had to be a second spitter.

    2. Jackie arranged it.

      1. She did manage to marry into an even wealthier family than the Kennedy’s afterwards…
        This is as likely a conspiracy as most of the others, which is basically nonsense.

      2. Along with the “suicide” of Marilyn Monroe. “Hell hath no fury…”

        1. If only Marilyn had a semen stained dress, she would have been golden.

  2. He got threatening letters from Marilyn Monroe’s estate.

  3. I have to say that withholding the last 300 or so documents because of national security reasons, just leads one to believe that the US Government is hiding some shady stuff.

    I just find it hard to believe that any spies are still working after all these years or any other reason that would create a superior government interest in keeping these documents from the public.

    I can only hope that Trump is more willing next year to tell the intelligence community to shove it. We live in a Democracy and old government documents need to be released to the public because We the People are supposed to be in charge.

    1. the only thing I can think of is if the U.S. talked to a few representatives from the USSR or other commy country who were not supposed to talk but are still alive and would be threatened even today. that would be the only thing acceptable but I doubt it. More likely just covering up their own incompetence.

      1. The most likely conspiracy, although I really don’t there is one, is that the CIA pretended to be communists to try and encourage and entrap an actual communist in committing some sort of treasonous crime so they could arrest him, but Oswalt went rogue and jumped the gun.

        But most likely he really was just a Soviet-loving America-hating communist who wanted to kill Kennedy with no conspiracy needed. This, of course, drives Democrats and the left crazy, who still blame it on right-wing bigotry and the “City of Hate”.

        1. Oswald went rogue and jumped the gun.

          Not sure if that was intentional or not, but if so; what you did there? I saw it.

        2. Oswald was most likely an American spy. Marine sharpshooter, went to the Soviet Union, came back no questions asked?

          1. Yeah, that always bothered me too. How does a defector who previously held a security clearance return to the US without incident, and with a Russian bride in tow?

        3. Oswald had no beef with JFK. Now, Connally, on the other hand…

      2. Would probably be bad for Woody Harrelson’s career.

      3. A theory I read was that the CIA had a source in Castro’s government. They contacted the source right after the assissnation to determine if Castro was behind it. As of 1992, this source was still alive and would suffer if he/she were revealed.

    2. I believe the FBI and CIA types in our government use the JFK files strategically in the same was they do with Area 51. I don’t think there are any earth-shattering revelations, and they know that. They need the public to fear and suspect them for them to maintain their power, not to mention the fact that it can intimidate other countries by hinting we are capable of hiding crazy things from them, so they let the public know these things exist, yet leave them tantalizingly out of reach.

      1. Big JKF Conspiracy is a cottage industry onto itself.

      2. Area 51 holds advanced defense tech, not aliens. Alien craft is a good cover story for testing advanced aircraft concepts.

      3. This is a good theory.

  4. Don’t release them all.

    DC needs the distraction to run on cable news so the zombies can lap it up for the next two weeks

  5. The deadline for the remaining documents to be reviewed is April 26, 2018.

    Re-reviewed by whom? How about Trump take a few hours tomorrow instead of tweeting?

    1. Put Pence on it. What does the VP do anyway?

      1. As President of the Senate, he provides tie-breaking votes, and you know how often that happens in the Senate. Why, a Vice President can *barely* find time to breathe, with all this tie-breaking going on!

  6. Nearly all of Trump’s actions and views are based entirely around the fact that he is a raging conspiracy theorist. He believes every single conspiracy about everything. His birtherism isn’t due to racism. It’s because he’ll believe every conspiracy he hears.

    I’ve never believed the government hides as many mind-blowing secrets as many think, other than some common lies and half-open secrets. The election of Trump has further led me to believe this, because there’s no way in hell he wouldn’t let slip any big secrets he was made aware of.

    On a side note:
    I also think it’s entirely possible we are in fact the only intelligent sentient beings in the universe. I’m a massive sci-fi and science nerd (the real kind who reads papers, not the stupid I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE/Buzzfeed retards). I’m sure there are probably simple life forms elsewhere in the universe, but the chances of them evolving to the point that we have could very well be one in the crazy high number of planets there are in the universe.

    I am largely certain no aliens have reached or contacted Earth, although I do love Ancient Aliens.
    If aliens had reached Earth, Trump would have told us already…

    1. There are also astronomical odds that humans are the only smart beings in the Universe.

      Our ancestors were prisoners dropped on Earth as a penal colony, which is why there are so many countries trying to control people.

      The Universe’s Matrix to keep us from getting bored.

    2. The surest proof that there is intelligent life in the universe is that they stay away from us!

    3. Intelligent life is everywhere in the universe, but the energy required to travel near light speed (or beyond) is so high it keeps everyone in their own neighborhood.

      1. Intelligence is too big an evolutionary advantage to not appear everywhere.

        1. Hell, the raccoons in my backyard are evolving it as we speak.

        2. I’m not entirely sure that intelligence is as evolutionary advantageous as you think it is. Out of all the different life forms currently in existence on this planet, how many of them are intelligent? Compare that to how many of them are single-celled, or have chitinous exoskeletons, and humans are beginning to look very unsuccessful, indeed.

          This isn’t to say that intelligence is bad, mind you — I’m *very* happy to be human, myself! — but I’m convinced runaway intelligence is a happy accident, rather than a survival mechanism. (Well, it’s a survival mechanism in social groups, but that’s about it…)

          Of course, this doesn’t mean that intelligence isn’t inevitable; it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it will happen whenever there’s been three or four billion years of life….

          And confound it, it’s *very* difficult to speculate about probabilities like this when we have a sample size of one planet!

      2. And it’s not a matter of “where is everybody else,” but “when is everybody else.” It’s soul-crushing, in a way, to realize that no matter what we see in our telescopes or hear through our antennae, it’s already been dead for millions of years. Even if E.T. were phoning us at this very instant, there’s no way we’d know about for millions of years unless we can figure out how to disprove Einstein. (Yes, I know a lot of his work has already been upended in theory, but not as a practical matter.)

    4. You also have to consider most of our technology was able to be developed because we have abundant energy sources such as oil and coal. Other planets might not be so richly endowed. There was plenty of intelligent life on earth in the 18th century, but none of it was capable of initiating contact with other planets.

      Or it may be we’re unique in wishing to communicate. There are a number of reasonably intelligent species right on earth, but none of them have shown the least interest in trying to communicate with us. That may be the default attitude of most living things throughout the universe. We may be unique in that regard.

  7. new biography of former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton

    Thanks for the tip-off Jesse. Looks like a must read. I’m halfway through Legacy of Ashes now and HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I never expected a history of the CIA to be laugh-out-loud funny, because to call the CIA a collection of loose cannons is a discredit to cannons everywhere.

    And Angleton, chief cheerleader of the Gotta Find that Fucking Ruskie Mole crowd, seems to be quite the loose cannon.

  8. Gee, Rafael Cruz sure was handsome in his youth.

  9. LBJ did it.

    1. That is my personal favorite suspicion, and was voiced within my family at the time of the assassination so I guess it is embedded somewhere in the recesses of my psyche.

      The guy certainly was ambitious enough, and had a ruthless streak to match. If so he certainly got his comeuppance, which was to get what he wanted.

    2. Nope. JFK assassinated JFK.

      https://tinyurl.com/ycpze5kh

  10. The president should 1) lift any and all orders of silence/confidentiality/you-name-it which may have been issued to government employees (military, intelligence services, secret service, etc.) regarding the assassination and 2) offer blanket pardons to anyone with information regarding the same. If the Warren Commission was right, nothing should turn up. If not, well that would be interesting.

    Regarding the pardon gambit, theoretically this might result in murderers and/or their conspirators being pardoned, yes. But at this juncture, 54 years after the event, the possible closure on the issue would be worth it. And any such individuals would be at best in their 70’s anyway.

  11. Three full, multi-clause sentences within a single parenthesis? What are you trying to hide, Walker?

  12. Can’t we all just say ‘Who cares’ at this point?

    To the conspiracy theorists it will always be something besides whatever it actually is because they just can’t give it up.

    To everyone else, it’s over, it’s BEEN over for half a century now. Let Kennedy lie.

    1. JFK was going to be the bestest president of all time and bring about socialtopia, until LBJ and the CIA and the FBI and the KGB and the BOA and the teamsters and the Illuminati has him killed, just so we could lose Vietnam!

      And that’s “no big deal”?

      1. Sing that to the refrain of “Oh what could have been, had Camelot not been struck down?”

      2. He was also what would be called a raging right wing nut case.
        His proposed budget was to lower tax rates for individuals and for corporations (sound familiar?). He said that would actually increase revenues.
        Kennedy assigned federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders rather than using federal troops or uncooperative FBI agents. Robert Kennedy, speaking for the president, urged the Freedom Riders to “get off the buses and leave the matter to peaceful settlement in the courts.”
        He used federal troops inside the United States instead of the courts to enforce his preference on civil rights.
        He approved wiretapping Rev. King because of suspected communists as advisers.
        He had extramarital affairs with eight or more women.

        1. “He had extramarital affairs with eight or more women.”

          “That’s right Bobby. The bitch from ‘Some Like it Hot’.”

        2. Ike sent troops to Little Rock in 1957.

      3. Half of the country believes Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy.

        The other half knows it for sure, because we were in on it.

  13. What could possibly be relevant for today’s national security? I suspect there are embarassing details for someone since information from that long ago shouldn’t be relevant to today.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. What’s the ‘national security’ excuse?

    2. I think there probably embarrassing details that would bring shame to the federal bureaucracies themselves. Most of the individuals are long dead but the same alphabet government agencies are still around.

  14. That was the deadline set by the JFK Records Act of 1992, but there was an escape hatch: The president had the power to withhold some of the documents on national security grounds.

    I bet they never saw Donald Trump coming in 1992!

    1. ” bet they never saw Donald Trump coming in 1992!”

      That’s a sex tape I will be happy to skip.

  15. The US government just released names of OSS agents a few years ago.

    Government archives would keep everything under wraps forever if they could.

  16. How did a Dallas cop know it was Oswald? How did he know to look for him at a theater? Why was the Zapruder not seen by the public until 1975? How did the “magic bullet” go thru Kennedy, the seat, and Gov Connely, leaving fragments in his wrist, and be found in pristine condition? If all the shots came from behind, why did Kennedy’s head snap backwards?
    Yeah, no conspiracy. Let’s believe what Leviathan tells us.

    1. We all saw your movie too, but thanks for your comment, Mr. Stone.

    2. You wouldn’t happen to have a newsletter I could subscribe to, would you?

    3. How did the “magic bullet” go thru Kennedy, the seat, and Gov Connely…?
      Long copper-jacketed lead-core 6.5?52mm Mannlicher?Carcano high velocity bullet that hits no hard material. Flesh, seat cushion, etc.

      …fragments in his wrist, and be found in pristine condition?
      It was found that the weight of a single, unfired bullet ranged from 159.8 to 161.5 grains with an average weight of 160.844 grains.The lead fragments retrieved from Connally’s wounds in the wrist (there were no fragments in the chest) weighed about 2 grains (130 milligrams). The bullet was not pristine but was distorted from round to oblong shape.

      If all the shots came from behind, why did Kennedy’s head snap backwards?
      If you have ever shot things, they move from the transfer of energy from the bullet to the object. If you have seen people being killed, they can move with the direction of the bullet and muscles can cause the body to “bounce back” in the opposite direction of the bullet. In this case, it is believable that JFK’s head moved forward with the bullet direction and then his neck muscles acted like a rubber band and after the bullet left JFK, his head bounced back.

      Not that everything coming from government should be believed but these examples are not the silver bullet to solving this case.

      1. But long heavy bullets tend to not change directions. That is why they penetrate deep. Every change of direction requires a hard object and results in a loss of energy.
        IMO the terminal ballistics the government tried to pass off as what happened are what raises all the questions.

        1. The bullet did not change directions, there is no “magic bullet.” The actual position of the governor was lower and slightly to the left of Kennedy since he was on a jump seat.

    4. This is what I love about conspiracy theories – their smoking guns are ALMOST ALWAYS shit that’s been debunked for decades.

      My two favorite things to do with conspiracy theorists are to show them a.) video that proves the WTC towers didn’t “free-fall” and b.) video of Oswald’s shots being successfully reproduced by the nightly news back in 1967.

      Even after you prove their favorite lines as being nonsense, they will almost always continue using the same arguments. It’s pathological.

      1. You forgot the Dallas cop who found Oswald at a movie theater. How did he know who to look for, and where?

        1. He snuck into the theater without a ticket minutes after he murdered a police officer, a crime he was actively being sought for, visibly ducking to hide from passing police, and the ticket-taker reported him to the cops.

          I’ll give you credit, I think you’re the first one I’ve ever seen ask this question…it’s rare someone jumps straight to questioning the parts the public knows the most about.

          1. Wow, the Dallas cop did all that? I’m guessing that he was pardoned for the cop murder after he caught Oswald.

            (Fun fact: ambiguous pronouns can wreak *incredible* havoc on unsuspecting, tired brains!…)

            1. Why can’t everybody just understand things the way they exist in my brain?

  17. I mean even if they released all of the documents and they showed nothing would people believe them? Do you really think that anything mentioned in those documents would change any minds at this point? I don’t think it would no matter what those documents showed.

    1. No, I doubt it. I listen to AM Coast To Coast (even if it’s far worse without Art Bell) and I know that conspiracy theory doesn’t require much reason to exist.

  18. Just start handing out arrest warrants if the government officials don’t comply with the law.

    1. Sounds to me that Trump is holding back the documents. He’s just mad that the deep state convinced him to do so.

      “The president had the power to withhold some of the documents on national security grounds. After much vacillating, Donald Trump decided at the last minute to keep some files classified.”

      1. Reason is even using this as an excuse to attack Trump. Sad.

  19. No doubt about it, 25 years is not enough time for a bureaucrat to figure out if his ass is covered.
    Hey Donny boy, you are the President; if you are really unhappy with the withholding, DON’T DO IT.

  20. I guess it’s conceivable that there are sources who are still alive. If there was an 18 year old source at the time, he would only be 72 now. So fine, redact the names of living sources and release the documents already. They’ve only had 25 years to prepare the documents to be released, what more time do they need?

  21. I am wondering if they will really release the hole files,I know one thing, As the Bonanno MOB family, what they had to do with it,or check out if He was in contact with them??:) Surprise!!

  22. I’ve always believed that Carol Burnett, Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller were behind the JFK assassination. And I’d bet that Betty White was involved too. Just a hunch.

    1. It was the BFF’s of MM.

  23. JFK’s little black book is still classified, to Slick Willie’s chagrin…

  24. Looks like weird folks like Henry Makow will have fun to discuss Kennedy here and there.

  25. I doubt anything released now will challenge the obvious: Oswald wanted to return to the Soviet Union; the Russians didn’t trust him and refused him an entry visa. He came up with the idea of shooting an important American — ANY important American — as a way of proving (in his own warped mind) his loyalty. He missed the general and didn’t miss the president.

    In science, the answer that’s true usually is the one that explains all the relevant facts and remains the simplest. And, what the conspiracy theorists almost always miss is the dimension of mind in a presidential would-be assassin.

    Oswald just wanted to go “home”; the “nyet” he got pushed him to do something extreme. The rest was a compilation of coincidences that just came together at the same place and the same time.

  26. John Kennedy died by accident. Oswald was aiming at Connally. George Hickey, preparing to return fire, accidentally set his gun off for the head shot.

  27. You have no idea what may be in those redacted pages.
    And the president does not decide what gets redacted…he’s a touch too busy to get into that level of detail.
    The president would burn a lot of bridges if he decided to overrule everybody.
    He could’ve just sent the out as-is but put the onus back on the agencies to review again.
    There could be names of people still alive whose life might well be in danger if released.
    It’s a bit tiring to read things like this when the writer has absolutely no idea what they are are writing about.

    1. Welcome to another anti Trump Reason article.

  28. Did the redacting agencies have fair notice how soon to get their recommendations in? If so too bad the president was not strong enough to stick by his word. The swamp survives.

    JC

    1. Did the redacting agencies have fair notice how soon to get their recommendations in?

      They had 25 years’ notice, which is why MikeyB’s comment is so ridiculous.

  29. Every major promise Obummer made he broke by doing the opposite. It will be the same for Trump. His excuses for not “draining the swamp” are pathetic. That said it won’t matter to the statist worshippers who love to play the game of “my guy, right or wrong” or “yea, my guy has ‘disappointed’ (a euphemism for: has betrayed me) but the other guy would have been worse”.

    The willfully blind mass supporters of politicians are the most pathetic of all. Getting them to wake up, shape up, and stand up for themselves is almost impossible. Articles like this won’t do it. The facts don’t matter to “the true believers”.

    I wish Larken Rose all the best of luck with his “Mirror” and “Candles in the Dark”.

    1. Given the epic level of resistance Trump is facing, it might be worth cutting the guy a little slack and giving him a bit more time before writing him off. He’s only been in office for less than nine months and thanks to procedural bullshit in the senate is just finally getting the bulk of his appointees on the job.

  30. As a former Texas peace officer I was, over 20 years ago, assigned to guard a U S Marshal’s prisoner who was being transferred from one federal hospital to another. When I first showed up the US Marshal at the hospital room door asked me if I knew who was inside the room. I did not. I was told that I would be inside the room with one of the FOUR HEADS [not just an ordinary soldier] of the Mafia in the south.

    After a couple of days [I was UNEASY 🙂 !] the old man and I started talking. On the 4th day I asked him about Lee Harvey Oswald. The man knew LHO AND Jack Ruby BOTH. And, LHO & Ruby knew each other, a fact long denied! Anyway, the man [who knew he was going to die in prison shortly.] said LHO was nothing like he has been portrayed. Very smart [this from a man who dodged the feds for 40 years] and very gregarious.

    I personally [after studying this for 40 years] believe LHO was exactly what he said he was, a patsy. I also am certain that LHO was either CIA or Naval Intelligence!

  31. Call in the heads of the CIA/DIA/FBI/etc., and the DNI, and tell them in no uncertain words that one of two things shall be on his desk at 0800 the next morning: their entire JFK files (unredacted), or their resignations.
    And, if they get any pushback from their apparatchiks, they have his authority to recite two words: You’re Fired!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.