JFK files: Trump holds back information on Oswald's meeting with Russians and Cubans

Hundreds of files are being withheld

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 27 October 2017 18:16 BST
Lee Harvey Oswald was detained within hours of the assassination; two days later he himself was shot and killed while in police custody
Lee Harvey Oswald was detained within hours of the assassination; two days later he himself was shot and killed while in police custody (Getty)

Files that could have shone further light on JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s overseas meetings with Cubans and Russians just months before he killed the President were not included in the information dump ordered by Donald Trump.

As historians pored over details included in the 2,800 files that were released to the public, some were disappointed that potentially insightful information may be among that still being withheld at the request of the US intelligence community.

In addition to files relating to Oswald’s six-day trip to Mexico, information about Dallas businessman Gordon McClendon, a radio station owner who is said to have spoken to Jack Ruby, shortly before he shot and killed Oswald two days after John F Kennedy’s assassination, was not made public. The Washington Post said government files about infamous anti-Castro Cuban exiles, including Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch – accused of the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline – were similarly not released.

In advance of the release of the files, Mr Trump had vowed transparency and suggested he wished to make public all of the estimated 3,100 files relating to the assassination of the US’s 35th president held in the National Archives. As it was, around 2,800 were released, with the remainder being withheld for a further six months at the request of the US intelligence community.

A government official told reporters most of the files being retained belonged to the CIA and FBI. Mr Trump was said to have been disappointed he could not make all of them public and there was speculation the agencies were acting intentionally after the President made accusations towards them after he was elected.

On Friday morning, he repeated his hope to release all the available information. “JFK Files are being carefully released. In the end there will be great transparency. It is my hope to get just about everything to public,” he said on Twitter.

What are the JFK files?

In a statement accompanying the release of the documents, Mr Trump said: “Departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. I have no choice – today – but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security.”

Among the documents that were released are those that capture the frantic mood of the country in the days after the assassination of the 46-year-old president, as officials sought to discover whether Oswald was working alone or as part of a broader conspiracy.

A memo believed to have been dictated by FBI Director J Edgar Hoover on 24 November 1963, two days after the assassination and the day that Oswald was himself shot and killed, started: “There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead.”

Later, Hoover recognised that many would not believe that Oswald had acted alone – something that has proved true.

JFK and his wife Jackie ride in the motorcade shortly before his assassination (Getty)

“The thing I am concerned about, and so is [deputy attorney general] Mr Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin,” he said in one note, according to the Associated Press.

He added: “Last night we received a call from our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organised to kill Oswald.”

Hoover said he passed on the warning to the Dallas police and was told Oswald would be sufficiently protected. As it was, Oswald was shot dead the next day by Ruby.

An FBI cable from April 1964 recounts part of Oswald’s bus trip to Mexico in October 1963, including the names of the people sitting around him.

Another memo sent from the office of Hoover detailed how the Soviet Union had suspected that JFK’s Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, the man who succeeded him, was involved in the President’s death

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