Donald Trump has final decision on release of JFK assassination files

Donald Trump has final decision on release of JFK assassination files

The anticipated release of thousands of never-seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination has scholars and armchair detectives buzzing.

However, President Donald Trump could yet block the release of files that could shed light on a tragedy that has stirred conspiracy theories for decades.

The National Archives has until October 26 to disclose the remaining files related to Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, unless Mr Trump intervenes.

The CIA and FBI, whose records make up the bulk of the batch, will not say whether they have appealed to the Republican president to keep them under wraps.

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“The American public deserves to know the facts, or at least they deserve to know what the government has kept hidden from them for all these years,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Centre for Politics and author of a book about Kennedy, said.

“It’s long past the time to be forthcoming with this information,” he said.

It is unlikely the documents contain any big revelations about Kennedy’s killing, said Judge John Tunheim, who was chairman of the independent agency in the 1990s that made public many assassination records and decided how long others could remain secret.

Mr Sabato and other JFK scholars believe the trove of files 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 the protected information up for release is details about the arrangements the US entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies, said Mr Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota.

Kennedy experts also hope to see the full report on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City from staffers of the House committee that investigated the assassination, said Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which publishes assassination records.

The White House did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The FBI declined to comment on whether it has asked Mr Trump to keep the files hidden.

A CIA spokeswoman would say only that it “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously-unreleased CIA information”.

Congress mandated in 1992 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.
AP

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