Although most of the government files on the assassination of President JFK have been released (with redactions), over 3,100 files were held back from the public. These documents have fuelled conspiracy theories that Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy in a much larger cover-up of what really happened on 22 November 1963. Some believe that the real answer to what happened on that day is hidden in these files…
On Friday 27 October, the US government released another batch of these declassified files, shedding further light on one of the most defining moments in American history. But what do they really contain and has the release uncovered any groundbreaking information?
One of the major points being reported is that the files include a CIA memo that suggests Oswald spoke with a KGB officer at the Russian embassy in Mexico City. However, do we not already know this?
In 2017 lead investigator of HISTORY’s JFK Declassified: Hunting Oswald, and ex CIA agency, Bob Baer told us, “Eight weeks before the assassination he [Oswald] shows up at the Russian embassy in Mexico, on a Saturday, three KGB officers join him and they sit down with this crazy American for two hours. At one point, Oswald meets the man who is head of assassinations.”
Another key point coming to light is an anonymous call to Cambridge News, a regional British newspaper, just 25 minutes before the assassination that claimed, ‘some big news in the US’ was about to happen. Again, this sounds familiar. Baer claimed in JFK Declassified that “Florentino Aspillaga,” a Cuban intelligence officer who defected to the CIA in 1987, “got a call on the morning of the assassination, he got a call from the president’s office in Cuba telling him to turn off his coverage of Florida and turn it on Dallas, this was four hours before the assassination.” Clearly someone was on the phone that day with prior information.
Finally, the released files show that the Dallas division of the FBI was already trying to track Oswald in October 1963. This is according to memos by the New Orleans Division. This evidence that the FBI were aware of Oswald and his potential plans brings with it the implications that Oswald could have been stopped and the assassination prevented. Why did the FBI not act on what they knew?
While this latest release does give greater insight into Oswald, shows what security forces knew at the time and gives credence to Baer’s investigation, it’s still not a full picture. An unknown number of documents were blocked for release at the last minute by President Donald Trump. Why? He claimed he had “no choice” but to bow to national security concerns of the FBI and CIA.
Sifting through these files is a difficult and arduous job that will keep researchers and historians busy for years to come. There will certainly be more questions that emerge, but we are also beginning to see some answers. Ultimately, these files will give the public a more informed view on the events in Dallas that day, but as of yet, there is no smoking gun.