The National Archives of the United States has released 13,173 documents about the assassination attempt on President Kennedy in 1963. These are documents, for example, from the CIA and the National Security Agency about the period leading up to the assassination, its aftermath and numerous investigations into it. Although there are still many conspiracy theories about this after nearly 60 years, researchers and the US media have yet to report any major revelations.
The US Congress decided in 1992 that 5 million pages that were still classified at the time should be released no later than 25 years later, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. The White House reports that with the latest round of posts, it is now 97 percent public.
The fact that several thousand documents are still partially or completely classified is because the intelligence services objected to their disclosure. This may be from a national security point of view, to protect resources or business methods or not to harm relations with foreign countries. Critics fear that the services also want to cover up unwanted information.
For example, part of the papers is about what the CIA knew about the movements of perpetrator Lee Harvey Oswald before he struck in Dallas. The CIA learned of a visit he had made to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico weeks before the attack, but did not realize its potential significance until after the assassination.
A now declassified report from the CIA’s office in Mexico revealed that a phone call between the embassy and Oswald was known because aides to the Mexican president helped install wiretaps at the diplomatic mission. The writer notes that “this matter is top secret and unknown to the Mexican security services.”
Other documents are less serious, such as condolences from foreign governments, a series of appeals to CIA regional offices for information about an arrested Oswald, or case reports on how the assassination was discussed in communist Moscow, East Germany, or Cuba.
Tips also immediately surfaced about the many conspiracy theories to be put forward: for example, one Polish informant reported that he learned a day after the attack that Moscow had arranged fake money and gates for the killers. “It looks like a wappie, but some aspects feel real,” sighs the report’s author, who recommends investigating the hint anyway.
Relations with the Netherlands
Among the thousands of archival documents, there are also a few that are relevant for our country. For example, a report written in Dutch on the secretary of the Cuban Embassy in The Hague, who responded vaguely “wait and see” when asked about Castro’s response to the US attacks.
In the 1970s, some surveillance reports also surfaced about Dutch journalist Willem Oltmanns, who was in contact with Oswald’s friends and family and was suspiciously tracked by the United States because of his friendly relations with the communist regimes. He has been described as a far-left journalist with “a history of homosexual sensationalism and activity”.
Although this collection of documents is the largest since 2018, critical researchers remain unsatisfied. Rex Brandford, of a foundation that launched lawsuits for publishing all the documents, called her a dead sparrow in a conversation with American reporters.
“The volume of documents may seem impressive,” he complains, “but a cursory examination shows that often the same pieces are still painted as before.” For example, there is still a report critical of the CIA after a failed attack on Cuba. “This important document shows what Kennedy was thinking after the Bay of Pigs Invasion. I can’t believe it hasn’t been released yet.”
Biden agreed to these exceptions because not all documents can be carefully vetted due to the coronavirus pandemic. The services have until May 1 of next year to object, otherwise the remaining documents will be issued on June 30.
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