Following years of delays, President Trump announced on Twitter on Saturday morning that he will allow the release of more than 3,000 of classified documents from the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The unexpected announcement means that a trove of previously unseen documents will be released by the National Archives by October 26.
“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted.
In 1992, Congress mandated that all assassination documents be released within 25 years, unless the president asserts that doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations. The still-secret documents include more than 3,000 that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been released previously, but with redactions, according to CBS. Trump's decision means that thousands of formerly classified documents related to Kennedy’s assassination will be unveiled next week in compliance with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which states that the federal government must release them by Oct. 26, 2017.
JFK scholars hope the new documents may provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing, during which he visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies. Oswald's stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but much about the trip remains unknown.
Among other protected information slated for release are details about the arrangements the U.S. entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies, said Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota. Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post reporter who has written extensively about the Kennedy assassination papers, said the remaining documents might include files on senior CIA officers from the 1960s who likely knew details of the agency’s surveillance of Oswald in Mexico City.
“What’s in those files could tell us how those men did their jobs,” said Morley, who wrote a 2008 book on the agency’s Mexico City station chief. “Is there JFK material in there? Could be. There might be stuff on why we were interested in the Cuban consulate, how we surveilled the consulate, how we did our audio work, and how did we recruit spies there? We might understand much better why they were watching Oswald.”
Morley is also eager to read a never-before released transcript of testimony given by James Angleton, the CIA’s legendary chief of counterintelligence from 1954 to 1975, to senators in September 1975 investigating abuses committed by the intelligence community.
The files on Angleton and the other CIA officers are important because “these are not just major players in the agency’s history, they are major players in the Oswald story,” said Morley, who has a new book on Angleton, “The Ghost,” coming out Oct. 24. “Oswald didn’t come out of nowhere. Angelton was targeting him for intelligence purposes at the Cuban consulate in Mexico City.”
Not everyone is happy, however, and many experts fear that such a large release of secret JFK assassination documents will spur “a new generation of conspiracy theories.”
Additionally, Politico reported that Trump administration officials were concerned that some of the documents created in the 1990s contain information on recent U.S. intelligence programs and might not be released. Nonetheless, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that the White House is aiming “to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public" under the act.
Overnight, the WaPo confirmed, reporting that President Trump is being urged to withhold the last batch of government documents that could shed more light on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
A National Security Council official said in an interview that federal agencies are asking the president not to release an unknown number of files held by the National Archives and Records Administration related to Kennedy’s murder.
“There will be a request made to the President to withhold documents, absolutely no question about that,” said the NSC official, who agreed to be interviewed only on the condition of anonymity. “There are definitely files related to sources and methods that agencies are asking to withhold.”
The official declined to identify which agencies are asking Trump to keep some of the Kennedy files secret, saying only that the security council is coordinating the requests.
Meanwhile, as we reported last week, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was urging Trump to release the files, and said in a recent interview he felt “optimistic” that Trump would allow the release of the files. Stone claimed that the CIA is urging President Donald Trump to delay disclosing some of the files for another 25 years. “They must reflect badly on the CIA even though virtually everyone involved is long dead.”
Earlier this month, Roger Stone, the political consultant and Trump confidante, reported on his website, “Stone Cold Truth,” that CIA Director Mike Pompeo wants the president to delay the record release for another 25 years. Stone, who co-authored a best-selling book in 2013 called, “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ,” said in a Post interview that he opposes any delay.
“What is the government hiding?” he asked. “The issue now is transparency.”
Earlier this week, Stone told Alex Jones that he spoke to Trump himself and urged the president to release all the documents.
“Yesterday, I had the opportunity to make the case directly to the president of the United States by phone as to why I believe it is essential that he release the balance of the currently redacted and classified JFK assassination documents,” Stone said on Jones’s show. “A very good White House source — not the President — told me that the Central Intelligence Agency, specifically CIA director Mike Pompeo, has been lobbying the President furiously not to release these documents. Why? Because I believe they show that Oswald was trained, nurtured and put in place by the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Stone said it wasn’t clear what Trump will do. “He did not tip off his current decision,” Stone told Jones. “We’re going to have to wait . . . but he was all ears. He took it all in . . . I think he’s going to do the right thing.” As of this morning, it appears that Trump has decided to side with Stone over the arguments from the NSC, and various other covert U.S. agencies.
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