Nearly 1,500 documents relating to the United States government’s investigation into the assassination of then-president John F Kennedy in 1963 have been publicly released by the National Archives.
- Former US president John F Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas
- The National Archives has released 1,500 documents, including secret cables and internal memos
- Historians remain sceptical about Oswald being solely responsible for the assassination
The disclosure of secret cables, internal memos and other documents meets the deadline set by US President Joe Biden.
Federal statute called for the government to release its records on the Kennedy assassination and more documents are expected to be made public next year.
There was no indication the files revealed new information about events on November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was shot and killed by gunman Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas
However, the trove of documents was eagerly anticipated by historians, who remain sceptical that — at the height of the Cold War — a troubled young Oswald, with a mail-order rifle, was solely responsible for an assassination that changed the course of American history.
Oswald’s embassy visits
The CIA cables and memos discussed Oswald’s visits to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City and contained discussion of Cuba’s potential involvement in the killing.
One CIA memo described how Oswald phoned the Soviet embassy while in Mexico City to ask for a visa to visit the Soviet Union.
Oswald also visited the Cuban embassy to get a travel visa that would allow him to visit Cuba and wait there for a Soviet visa.
On October 3, a month before the assassination, Oswald drove back into the United States through a crossing point at the Texas border.
Another memo, dated one day after Kennedy’s assassination, said Oswald had communicated with a KGB officer while at the Soviet embassy that September.
Secret eyes only
After Kennedy’s death, Mexican authorities arrested an employee of the Cuban embassy, who had communicated with Oswald and said he had “professed to be a Communist and an admirer of Castro”.
Fidel Castro was the then-Cuban leader and an adversary of Kennedy’s administration.
One CIA document, labelled “Secret Eyes Only”, detailed what it said were US government plots to assassinate Castro.
In another document, the US government considered if Oswald was swayed by a newspaper interview with Castro, where he warned of retribution if the US helped take out Cuban leaders.
The new files include several FBI reports on its efforts to investigate and surveil major mafia figures such as Santo Trafficante Jr and Sam Giancana.
Those files also revealed the FBI regularly kept tabs on anti-Castro groups operating in southern Florida and Puerto Rico in the 1960s.
The material also contains pages of details on the methods, equipment and personnel used to surveil the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City.
In 2017, then-president Donald Trump blocked the release of hundreds of records following concerns by the FBI and CIA, citing “potentially irreversible harm”.
Despite this, about 2,800 other records were released.
In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was the only gunman, while another probe by congress in 1979 found no evidence to support the theory that the CIA was involved.
Nevertheless, other interpretations persisted.
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