JFK: yet another delay in the truth behind his assassination


Former President John F. Kennedy wearing sunglasses prior to a speech. Credit: The New Yorker

   The Biden administration on Friday, October 22, again delayed the release of classified documents related to the assassination of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy for the second consecutive time, after the former Trump administration delayed the release, stating that the national archivist needs to review all unreleased documents “to protect against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations.”

   The cause for delay, however, is the records review requires more time after the slowdown caused by the pandemic. According to the White House statement released at 9:30 Sunday evening (October the 24th, 2021), the delay outweighed the “public interest in immediate disclosure.” Although the plan is still to release the documents, they will be released in two batches instead of only one, the first being released by the end of this year (2021), and the second batch sometime next year (2022).  

   Since the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy occurred in Dallas almost fifty-eight years ago, the request for more time seems more than odd–even suspicious–to those skeptical of the government’s practices.  Why, almost six decades after the fact, would the federal government require a more thorough review to protect anyone, any agency, or any country?  Most of the people directly involved in the events of November 22, 1963, are either long since retired from service, or have passed away.

   Two of Mr. Kennedy’s nephews, who had been encouraging the immediate release of all records pertinent to their uncle’s untimely death, cannot understand the delay, either.

   “I think for the good of the country, everything has to be put out there so there’s greater understanding of our history,” said Patrick Kennedy, a former U.S. Congressman.

   Robert Kennedy reacted more strongly, stating: “It’s an outrage against American democracy.  How the hell is it 58 years later, and what in the world could justify not releasing these documents?”

   Perhaps, the true reason lies not with being able to bring Lee Harvey Oswald to stand trial, nor in the conclusions of The Warren Report, but in the 1979 U.S. House Select Committee On Assassinations report that posed two contradictions to The Warren Report – (1) a “high probability that two gunmen fired,” and (2) that Kennedy’s assassination “was probably…as the result of a conspiracy.”  These two possibilities were credible enough to suggest apossible motive, expanding the number of those responsible for the assassination from Oswald, to two or more persons (or groups) acting together as co-conspirators to ensure the death of the President of the United States.   

   The “grassy knoll” conspiracy has been discounted as a possibility of a second shooter, despite eye-witness accounts of seeing someone with a gun and the smell of gunshot smoke near ground level near the presidential motorcade.  However, a couple of recently released government reports regarding the Secret Service may offer a possible explanation.  According to these reports, the Secret Service had begun using the Soviet-made AK-47 as part of its weapons arsenal, not long before Kennedy’s assassination.  Indeed, photos taken of the trailing limo show a Secret Service agent armed with what appears to be an AK-47 assault rifle – and pointed in the President’s limousine.  If the agent’s rifle had its safety off with the agent’s finger on the trigger when the car lurched forward as it accelerated to follow the lead car to evacuate the President from the danger of the scene, several experts have testified that the agent may have inadvertently fired his AK-47, unleashing at least one round aimed ahead towards Kennedy.  This would explain the horrific damage done to both the front and the back of the President’s skull, and the angle of trajectory.  

   If, on the other hand, the unreleased documents from the National Archive reveal a conspiracy involving the Central Intelligence Agency, members of an organized crime syndicate, or leaders of the U.S. military, the American public still has the right to know six decades after the event that stunned the nation and the world. If any U.S. agency and its people or other government cannot be held accountable now, then when?  Mr. Kennedy’s nephews have a point, not only does the Kennedy family have a right to know, so do the American people – even if the truth is inconvenient or casts agencies, governments, and others in a bad light. In this never-ending void of information and with this extended delay of releasing pertinent documents, even wilder conspiracy theories will be conjured up to explain the motive of Kennedy’s assassin(s) and the still unexplained assassination. These documents must be released sooner rather than later in order to uphold the honor of not only the Kennedy name, but the nation in its entirety.