Crime

Trump To Decide On Release of JFK Assassination Files

| by Kathryn Schroeder

President Donald Trump will decide in the next six months whether to publicly release thousands of secret government files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act states that the full library of documents about JFK's assassination must be made public by October 26, 2017, according to Politico. The decision as to whether the remaining 3,600 files will be released is solely up to Trump.

Most of the documents come from the CIA and FBI.

The Trump administration has acknowledged the issue is being reviewed, but has not said what decision the president will make.

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"[The Trump administration] is familiar with the requirements" of the law, a White House official told Politico on condition of anonymity, and is working with the National Archives "to enable a smooth process in anticipation of the October deadline."

If the documents are released, then they will be the last of the Kennedy assassination files that are still sealed to be made public.

Martha W. Murphy, the official at the National Archives overseeing the records, said a team of researchers with high-level security clearance is preparing the files for release and hopes to begin unsealing them before the October deadline.

Apart from the 3,600 files that have never been released, there are another 35,000 assassination-related documents -- previously released in part -- that may be released in full.

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Unless Trump orders the National Archive to keep the files sealed, Murphy said it is committed to making everything public in 2017, adding, "there's very little decision-making for us."

What exactly is in the Kennedy assassination files is unknown. They may include reports from CIA officials who monitored a trip by the president's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to Mexico City weeks before the assassination, during which he visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies. It was after Oswald's visit to the Soviet embassy that the CIA began surveillance on him.

The documents may also name American and foreign spies and law enforcement sources who were previously granted anonymity for providing information about Oswald and the assassination.

Federal Judge John R. Tunheim, the former chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, a federal agency that gathered the documents, said he "wouldn't be surprised if there's something important" in them.

He is not aware of any "bombshells" in the documents, though, nor is Murphy.

But the documents may add to or put to rest conspiracy theories that have grown from Kennedy's assassination. There are five conspiracy theories surrounding his death that are the most talked about, according to USA Today.

The first states that the CIA was behind JFK's death. The second blames the mafia, which stems from Kennedy's brother, Robert Kennedy, cracking down on organized crime as Attorney General. And the third pins the assassination on the Soviet Union's KGB. Some believe Oswald was a KGB operative.

The fourth conspiracy theory states that then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for killing JFK, planning it for political gain.

Lastly, the two shooters conspiracy theory says Oswald fired one shot, but another unknown shooter on the grassy knoll also fired a shot.

Sources: Politico, USA Today / Photo credit: Kheel Center/Flickr

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