JFK New Files


Last month over 2,800 files, previously restricted for a variety of reasons, including those of ‘national security,’ were released relating to the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy. These files add to the millions of words and thousands of books which have been written on the assassination.

Although it will be a while before all the files will be fully analysed, the first clear indications are that the files do not reveal a ‘smoking gun’ showing that Oswald did not act alone and, therefore, JFK died because of a conspiracy. But equally, because they were written by different agencies (or different sections within the same agency) at various times on separate issues, there is enough ambiguity and doubt to inspire conspiracists that they’re still onto something.

And this is the nub of the problem as I’ve already explored in an earlier blog – JFK: Faith & Conspiracy posted November 27th, 2015 – conspiracy theory about the assassination as with most conspiracy theories, has now hardened into faith. And anything to do with faith is best summed up in the famous words attributed to Thomas Aquinas:

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

If you believe in the search for truth, or the closest approximation to it that you can find, then the careful, objective analysis of evidence is crucial and any sober, realistic evaluation of the evidence can only lead to the conclusion that Oswald did act alone in pressing the trigger. The brute fact is, with the overwhelming evidence against him, Oswald would have been found guilty by any jury in any jurisdiction on the planet.

But that means hee-haw to the conspiracists. For them any evidence contrary to their firm beliefs must have been manipulated, distorted, sifted, skewed, whatever, as part of the all-encompassing, omniscient cover-up/conspiracy. Put simply, if you argue with a conspiracist, then that proves you’re either dumb or part of the conspiracy. And that’s where faith and a rational, evidence based approach to history part company.

A major part of the problem, almost from the moment JFK was killed in Dallas, was that there were lies, evasions and cover-ups. But these, crucially, were not directed at covering up a conspiracy against the President. They were aimed, rather at protecting the self-image, reputation and integrity of various US government agencies immersed up to their necks in clandestine, semi-legal, and in some cases, overtly illegal activities. A summary of some of these activities will suffice to illustrate this.

  • The CIA were plotting with the Mafia to overthrow Cuban President, Fidel Castro
  • The CIA were also engaged in a programme of “Executive Action” to overthrow certain foreign leaders, including the option of eliminating them
  • The FBI had activated an operation called COINTELPO, which took in illicit wiretaps and unattributed character assassinations directed at what were regarded as radical, subversive elements including the civil rights movement, particularly Martin Luther King.
  • There was endemic conflict and rivalry between the CIA and FBI
  • An FBI field officer in Dallas destroyed a threatening note from Oswald weeks before the assassination, because Oswald claimed the FBI were “harassing” his family. The note had nothing to do with Kennedy or his impending visit to the city, but the officer did not act on it, because he claimed he had a heavy caseload and, critically, did not notify his superiors. If he had done so, Oswald would have been on a watch list and put under surveillance the day of the assassination.

If any one of these activities (and these are just a few) had come to light, there would been severe repercussions within these agencies. Consequently, they did what all agencies and bureaucracies do in these situations: deny all shortcomings, restrict the release of any information that cast them in a bad light and, above all, shift blame onto someone else.

Any information released to the outside world that could cast doubt on how they handled Oswald had the potential to lead to requests for further information and that could have opened the floodgates. Outright denial and refusal to release files by hiding behind the convenient slogan of: ‘national security considerations’, have been the order of the day since.

All of this is in the open now, dragged out piecemeal over five decades. What’s left is fragments, but all attesting to the old maxim: that cock-up is the midwife of conspiracy which engenders further cock-up and so on in a self-perpetuating spiral. But in the void created by cover-up, the spectre of conspiracy has thrived.

There is one other factor here that has helped to perpetuate faith in the myriad conspiracy theories around JFK. And that is the enigmatic figure of Lee Harvey Oswald himself, which I will explore in the next blog.