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Breaking down the newly released JFK documents

Documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy were released by the National Archives this week. Historians and researchers are still sifting through the thousands of files released to find new revelations.


On Thursday, the Trump administration released thousands of secret documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Some of the documents will be partially redacted and many others will be held for another 180 days.

A senior administration official told reporters some sensitive documents are being held for 180 days due to concerns from some intelligence agencies. Those documents, an official said, are being reviewed by the agencies to determine whether they actually affect national security.

In reality, it's highly unlikely the documents contain any big revelations about President Kennedy's assassination. Let me save all of these folks a lot of time and effort by explaining what they will find when their investigation is done.

Here are some of the more interesting things found in the released documents:

1. A 1964 FBI memo describes a meeting in which Cuban exiles tried to set a price on the heads of Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. “It was felt that the $150,000.00 to assassinate FIDEL CASTRO plus $5,000 expense money was too high,” the memo noted. At a subsequent meeting, they settled on more modest sums: $100,000 for Fidel, $20,000 for Raúl and $20,000 for Che.

2. A draft report by the House Select Committee on Assassinations found it unlikely that Cuba would kill Kennedy as retaliation for the CIA’s attempts on Fidel Castro’s life. “The Committee does not believe Castro would have assassinated President Kennedy, because such an act, if discovered, would have afforded the United States the excuse to destroy Cuba,” the draft states. “The risk would not have been worth it.”

3. An FBI file contains information on the bureau’s attempt to locate a stripper named “Kitty,” last name unknown. According to the file, another stripper named Candy Cane said Kitty had been an associate of Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 24, 1963. Leon Cornman, a business agent with the American Guild of Variety Artists in New Orleans, told the FBI that “the only stripper he knew by the name of Kitty who worked in New Orleans was Kitty Raville.”

4. A 1960 FBI memo described a “high-priced Hollywood call girl” who was approached by Fred Otash, a well known Los Angeles private investigator, seeking information about sex parties involving then-Sen. John F. Kennedy; his brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford; Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. “She told the agents that she was unaware of any indiscretions,” the memo said.

5. In a remarkable memo written just two days after the assassination, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover wrote that his bureau had warned Dallas police at least twice since Kennedy’s killing of threats against Oswald.

“Last night we received a call in our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald,” Hoover wrote. “We at once notified the chief of police and he assured us Oswald would be given sufficient protection. This morning we called the chief of police again warning of the possibility of some effort against Oswald and again he assured us adequate protection would be given. However, this was not done.”

6. An April 1964 memo from J. Edgar Hoover ordered the FBI to check out a report that Jack Ruby and Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippitt — fatally shot by Oswald shortly after Oswald killed Kennedy — had met at Ruby’s strip club, the Carousel Club, sometime prior to the assassination. Hoover seemed skeptical.

7. Some of the papers recounted the agency’s well-chronicled schemes to kill Fidel Castro. One document, a summary of the CIA’s plans to assassinate foreign leaders, recounted how the CIA tried to use James B. Donovan, the American lawyer and negotiator made famous by the movie “Bridge of Spies,” for one plot. He would give Castro a contaminated skin-diving suit while the two negotiated for the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners.

8. In an internal FBI report from May 1964, an informant told the FBI that the Ku Klux Klan said it “had documented proof that President Johnson was formerly a member of the Klan in Texas during the early days of his political career.”  The “documented proof” was not provided.

9. In a memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a source inside the USSR says the Soviets were shocked by the death of Kennedy, who they preferred as president because of their "mutual understanding." They were fearful of a leadership void and immediately began instructing their agents to gather information on the new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, the memo details.

10. A memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, dictated on Nov. 24, 1963, just hours after Jack Ruby shot Oswald, says the FBI hoped for a confession from Lee Harvey Oswald at the hospital before he died. The FBI never got that confession, leaving Hoover with an urgent desire to have "something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin."

The memo also details an anonymous phone call Hoover received the night before Oswald was killed: "Last night, we received a call in our Dallas office from a man ... in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald," the memo reads.

The report says the Soviets believed that the assassination was a conspiracy carried out by multiple people to drive anti-Communist sentiment. The Soviet Communist Party believed the assassination was an “ultraright” act and in effect a “coup.” -Adam Kelsey and John Verhovek

Over the years, many people have presented some very compelling conspiracy theories that Oswald did not act alone or actually kill Kennedy. However, I personally feel all of the evidence presented in the Warren Commission report overwhelming proves that Oswald acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy.

I can accept the lone-killer explanation that was concocted by the Warren Commission, after we find Oswald was a messianic character convinced of his exceptionalism but in fact manifestly a marginal character who likely never would amount to much — killing someone important is always a popular means to be noticed by history, when one lacks the capacity to earn such distinction honorably; and he certainly got his page in history.

Alternatively, I also find the claims of the Mafia interesting. Key underworld characters have claimed that they masterminded the plot to kill Kennedy as revenge for brother Bobby Kennedy’s actions, as Attorney General and, earlier, in his role as congressional counsel in investigating and pursuing organized crime. Some revenge, if so.

But, given the forensic evidence from Oswald’s rifle as the murder weapon, the mob theory lacks conclusiveness: Oswald didn’t need anything the mob might have provided to plan and carry out the assassination, he just needed crazy.

Likewise, the Castro connection: Fidel wouldn’t have needed to provide Lee Harvey with anything the man didn’t already have to plan and execute a murder. Oswald didn’t need a conspiracy, he just needed a rifle.

I could even buy that Oswald had broadcast his intentions to those whose ideological regard he valued, such as the U.S.S.R and Cuba; but I don’t buy that it was a conspiracy involving them. Oswald didn’t need a conspiracy to map JFK’s planned movements through Dealey Plaza and set up a nest in the Book Depository Bldg, all he needed was a newspaper, a rifle and crazy.

If indeed Oswald communicated his intentions to communist governments, then it should surprise nobody that they’d be listening to see what happened. But it doesn’t mean that three cigar-smoking guys were on the Grassy Knoll with scoped sniper rifles and tripods.

Oswald didn’t need anything to kill JFK that he didn’t already have, including the motivation — a page in the history books for an intelligent but marginal man who never could have distinguished himself by honorable means but who desperately wanted that distinction. Oswald didn’t need encouragement, he just needed an audience.

Lee Harvey Oswald has been demonstrated to be a marginal character, desperate to be acknowledged as a substantial man; intelligent but poorly lettered and without the access necessary at that time to build a life that had honorable and distinguished impact on society; and for these reasons a very bitter man.

It’s accepted now that Oswald also tried to murder Gen. Edwin A. Walker, fired a shot from the same rifle that killed JFK and almost got the general. And the forensic evidence linked the bullet that passed through both JFK And TX Gov. Connally to Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. Oswald was gunning for someone to get him in the history books, and he got him.

If you were picked up by Texas lawmen and accused of murdering the President of the United States, would you immediately own up to it? Within hours of that claim, Jack Ruby forestalled any possible retraction of what probably was a gut-reaction denial.

There is no more to Ruby than meets the eye. He was a friend of the cops and got access to the garage due to his relationship with the cops. You have to realize how stirred up the cops and the citizenry were.

While certainly killing JFK was monumental, Oswald also shot a cop who tried to apprehend him. too and the blood was running incredibly high. None of the supposed connections to the mafia play out, and really it’s just another dead-end with no actual evidence.

I don’t think JFK was the casualty of a small man who thought he should be larger and saw no other means to grow large; and of a more innocent world when assassinations of presidents were so unthinkable (despite having happened before) that security was nowhere near as tight as it should have been.

Conspiracy theories appeal to people with defective cognitive abilities and personality defects of some sort. They like having “insider” information, they like being the only one “in the know”. They like being a victim and they like seeing the world through a lens of evil manipulators.

For a more recent example, just look at 9/11 truthers. The feds went out of their way to deal with their questions/concerns and NIST issued a second report that went through each one and showed how they were baseless — to no effect to the truthers.

As for the JFK assassination, Oswald was an anti-social, violent and unstable person since he was a child. When you apply modern forensics to much of the evidence, and bring together all the information available about issues like the shots and how the traversed the bodies etc, it shows categorically that there is nothing mysterious about any of it.

One of the errors of the initial investigations was that the timing of the shots was calculated using a recording of a motorcycle cops open mic during the shooting. One of the “shots” was actually a car backfire and when the actual shots are used, the timing is clear – Oswald could easily make the shots he made, as any marksman could. Oswald was a trained Marine marksman, so this is no shock.

There was a bit of controversy initially, due to the limitations of technology at the time of the initial investigations. The timing of the shots is easy to replicate. The initial timing made it very hard to replicate because it was a bolt-action rifle. But under the correct timing it was quite doable.

As for the Grassy Knoll stuff below, you just have to giggle. First off, modern gun powder is smokeless – guns don’t leave puffs of smoke so that entire idea is laughable.

As for “ear witnesses” this is highly unreliable testimony. Also, go look at the spot they are talking about. The thought that someone could have set up and taken the shot without being seen is nuts. There is very little cover and someone doing so would easily have been seen.

Eye witnesses recall seeing Oswald’s rifle in the window after the first shot. How come there wasn’t one eyewitness who saw the supposed Grassy Knoll shooters? Answer: Because there was nobody there.

When you investigate and take a part all of the conspiracy theories out there, each of them becomes a complete dead-end almost immediately as there is no factual basis for any of them.

The conspiracy theorists have no real evidence, just hyperbole, small bits of data that they spin – but in each case it all actually amounts to nothing. Some are even just total fabrications with people profiting by books, newsletters etc.

What becomes painfully obvious is that there is no reason to believe anything other than the fact that Oswald shot Kennedy because he was a deranged individual. Oswald was kicked out of the Soviet Union by the government there, he didn’t leave voluntarily, because he was a troublemaker and unstable.

Every single person who thinks there is something nefarious about JFK’s assassination should rethink their position. Too many people have watched Oliver Stone’s laughable “JFK” movie and continue to peddle paranoid lies about John F. Kennedy’s death.

The facts are clear. There is no controversy among sober people. Many people have spent a lot of time and money chasing down every conspiracy theory out there. Researchers have chased down the threads about the Mafia, Ruby, CIA, Grassy Knoll (modern gun powder is smokeless so if another shot came from there it would not leave a puff of smoke), magic bullet, etc, and virtually all the conspiracy theories are easily debunked.

Bottom line, Oswald was a violent, unstable person from the get go. He was kicked out school, dishonorable discharge from the Marines, and kicked out of the Soviet Union because he was such a difficult, volatile person. He fits the profile of someone who works their way up to this kind of act to a ‘T’.

It also becomes clear is that the JFK assignation has become an industry and the folks peddling such nonsense are motivated by selling pamphlets/books etc.

I’m a bit difficult with people on this stuff because it really matters. You want to believe in ghosts or ESP or UFOs? Fair enough.

However, believing that there is some cover up to the assassination JFK, when there is no evidence? It encourages people to distrust our government in profound way. We already have plenty of real reasons to distrust the government. We don’t need a fake, hysterical ones like the JFK conspiracy theories.

I’m the same way with 9/11 truthers. Their beliefs encourage people to hold wildly paranoid views about our government. In that case. the second NIST report sealed the deal. It addressed every contention of the truthers and showed conclusively that they don’t have a shred of real evidence to support their views.

I also see the JFK thing as politically pernicious. It gives leftists a meme (not a motif – a motif is a design pattern) that supports their narrative that Kennedy was killed due to his support for civil rights and that conservatives wanted him dead for it. Many of the left have said as much this week. It’s not okay to distort the truth this much.

The blame for JFK’s assassination lays squarely on Lee Harvey Oswald. Period.

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