By Olivia Kingree
On October 26, the federal government released more than 2,800 files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A few thousand more remain confidential due to national security reasons, but President Trump urged intelligence agencies to release all files in order to silence conspiracy theories.
Trump said that he hopes the files will finally put to rest any doubts or theories surrounding the assassination. Since JFK’s death, conspiracy theories have surrounded the event, placing blame on groups ranging from the CIA to Russia, Cuba and the mafia.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, while riding in a motorcade with wife Jackie Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally. Lee Harvey Oswald shot the president from inside the Texas School Book Depository. Oswald was later shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby before authorities were able to question him.
The President’s Commission on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, or “The Warren Commission,” concluded that both Oswald and Ruby acted alone. Most Americans, however, disagree.
“We [the U.S.] as a nation love conspiracy theories,” said Genevieve Windbiel (20’). In fact, conspiracy is one thing that most Americans agree on. According to NBC news, a majority of Americans believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. Sixty-one percent of Trump voters and fifty-nine percent of Hillary Clinton supporters agreed, according to a 2017 poll by FiveThirtyEight.
There are plenty of books, fictional stories and documentaries made on the subject of Kennedy’s assassination. NBC news said that this doubt surrounding the “lone gunman” theory has become “as American as apple pie.”
Though the files do not necessarily prove any conspiracy, they do include information on CIA connection to the mafia, plans to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro and references to “sex parties” attended by then-senator JFK.
Another document dated November 24, 1963, said that a man called the FBI threatening to kill Oswald one day before he was murdered by Ruby.
The newly released files also revealed that a CIA operative had received information from a trusted informant that Adolf Hitler had not in fact committed suicide at the end of World War II, but instead escaped to Columbia, where he lived in a community of ex-Nazi officials. The CIA, however, called these rumors “fantastic” and have since found no evidence proving their validity.
President Trump voiced hope that the release would clear any suspicions, but others say they merely revived interest in conspiracy theories. PBS wrote that the release “does little to quell conspiracy theories” and that it “hasn’t settled the best-known, real-life whodunit in American history.”
In a poll of seven Drew students, five said that they believe Oswald worked with outside people, groups or countries to assassinate Kennedy, while the other two said that he worked alone. Genevieve Windbiel (20’) said that the lack of security and preparation surrounding Kennedy’s procession was “suspicious” and that it led her to cast doubt on the “lone gunman” theory. Windbiel referenced the fact that, though the FBI had Oswald under surveillance months before the assassination and knew that he worked at the Texas School Book Depository, they did not notify secret service members of the nearby threat.
It is unknown whether the remaining thousands of confidential files contain information that could change public opinion, but President Trump urged intelligence agencies to release them in order to put an end to the rumors and theories surrounding Kennedy’s assassination.