The WikiTribune community is asked to highlight details from the declassified documents on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Who killed John F. Kennedy?
Was it really a solitary ex-Marine with ties to the Soviet Union who happened to be working in a Dallas warehouse when the president’s motorcade rolled into his rifle sights on November 22, 1963?
More than 50 years later, alternative theories persist: Was there a second gunman, or a different gunman, or a plot by the CIA, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson or others?
Reporters, historians and conspiracy buffs began poring through thousands of pages of once-secret FBI, CIA and other U.S. government documents released this week. They were looking for evidence to challenge the official orthodoxy that a lone sniper, Lee Harvey Oswald, killed America’s 35th president.
The 2,891 records posted online late Thursday by the U.S. government’s National Archives were fewer than anticipated.
More than 3,100 remaining files relating to the assassination were to be declassified by October 26 under a 1992 law that required the documents to be made public after 25 years. President Donald J. Trump, however, ordered hundreds of documents to remain classified for more review.
“This temporary withholding from full public disclosure is necessary to protect against harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure,” Trump said in a memo reported by the Washington Post. He granted six more months of review.
Some of the records had been completely blocked from public view, while others were being released to lift redactions from previous disclosures.
Trump said he had no choice but to withhold the remaining documents after requests from the intelligence services. Clearly, however, conspiracy theorists and even historians just wanting to get to the bottom of the story, were disappointed that information remained withheld.
“My expectations were low, and they should have been lower,” Gerald Posner, author of the 1993 Kennedy assassination book Case Closed, was quoted as saying in Saturday’s Washington Post.
The WikiTribune community is encouraged to go through declassified documents, and news coverage, to compile what we learned, and what information is still missing. This will be then be assessed and added to the overall story.
Highlights from released documents
Background of the assassination
Kennedy, 46, was shot on November 22, 1963, as he traveled in an open-topped car on a motorcade through Dallas. Oswald, 24, an employee of a schoolbook warehouse along the motorcade route, was arrested hours after the slaying. Oswald was shot to death two days later while in police custody by a 52-year-old Dallas nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.
A government inquiry known as the Warren Commission concluded that both men acted alone. The killings sparked numerous conspiracy theories.
Oswald, a former U.S. Marine who defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, returned to America with his Russian wife in 1962 and eventually settled in Dallas, according to the Warren Commission. He was employed at the Texas School Book Depository overlooking Dealey Plaza when Kennedy’s well-publicized motorcade drove through.
The inquiry found Oswald fired three rifle shots from the sixth-floor window of the depository. While the first shot missed the presidential limousine, a second shot struck Kennedy and seriously wounded Texas Governor John Connolly, who was riding in the car with the president. The third shot struck Kennedy’s head, according to the Warren Commission.
Oswald denied shooting anyone, saying, “I’m just a patsy.”
On November 24, 1963, while authorities were transferring Oswald from Dallas police headquarters to the county jail, Ruby emerged from a crowd of reporters and shot him in a scene shown on live television. Ruby was tried for murder, but his conviction and death sentence were overturned. Before a new trial could be conducted, he died in 1967.