The National Archives has released a list of documents related to John F Kennedy’s assassination that remain shielded from public view.
A list of the 3,063 documents that have been “fully withheld” since JFK’s assassination in 1963 was released on Thursday in response to a Freedom on Information Act request from news organizations and researchers.
The files listed, which were collected by the Assassination Records Review Board, an independent panel created by the 1992 JFK Records Act, will be released by October 2017 unless the next president decides to keep them classified.
POLITICO reports that “many of the files are expected to have no direct bearing on Kennedy's death in Dealey Plaza but could reveal intelligence operations involving Cuba, secret relationships between U.S. spy agencies and unsavory characters during the height of the Cold War, as well as other secrets the U.S. government might have resisted disclosing publicly as part of a full and open investigation at the time.”
Although the documents may not necessarily reveal whether Lee Harvey Oswald alone, they could help explain why top officials at the time tried to prevent a thorough investigation.
When asked whether there might be any significant revelations about Kennedy's assassination, Martha Murphy, head of the Archives' Special Access Branch, told POLITICO: “I’ll be honest. I am hesitant to say you’re not going to find out anything about the assassination.”
According to the Archives, "certain information has been removed" from the list, such as titles and other identifying information, to protect national security, personal privacy and tax information.
The list of documents include CIA “personality” studies of Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as a telegram about him from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to the State Department a week after the assassination. Oswald is suspected of having visited Mexico City in the weeks before the assassination, reportedly to obtain a travel visa to Cuba. Also included is a pair of telegrams from 1959 regarding Oswald’s brother Robert. One of the telegrams is from the State Department to Moscow and the other is from Moscow to Secretary of State Christian Herter.
There are a series of communications from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, including one titled "Reaction of Soviet and Communist Party officials to JFK assassination" that he sent to President Lyndon B. Johnson's chief of staff, Marvin Watson, a week after the assassination, and another sent a few weeks later to the deputy secretary of state for security relating to Oswald. There is also a series of 1964 memos sent to J. Lee Rankin, the Warren Commission’s general counsel, about Jack Ruby, the Dallas night club owner with mafia ties who killed Oswald two days after the assassination in the basement of the Dallas police station.
Also included on the list are at least five communications from Jacqueline Kennedy to President Lyndon B. Johnson in the days immediately following the assassination.
The files contain the top-secret testimony from James Jesus Angleton, chief of the CIA's counterintelligence branch from 1954 to 1975, before the Church Committee, which was convened by the U.S. Senate in 1975 to investigate abuses by the spy agency.
Former military officer and undercover operative Frank Sturgis’ testimony before the Church Committee in 1975 is also included. Sturgis was one of the five Watergate burglars whose break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters in 1972 led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Also there is longtime CIA officer David Atlee Phillips’ secret testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978. Phillips was involved in covert U.S. plans to assassinate Castro and is a person of interest in the JFK case for scholars and researchers.
Regis Kennedy (no relation to JFK) is one of several witnesses connected to the events in Dallas who died before they could be fully questioned. He reportedly suffered a heart attack the day before he was scheduled to testify before a grand jury on confiscated home movies of the assassination. POLITICO reports the documents contain an untitled communication from Justice Department files from Regis Kennedy to the special agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans field office on May 18, 1967.
There are also several unidentified CIA documents that have been kept from the public to protect a still-living intelligence source.
A sizable portion of CIA documents related to the assassination have been deemed “illegible,” including one for the general counsel of the Warren Commission to Richard Helms of the CIA, who managed the agency’s cooperation with the independent panel set up by President Johnson and concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. Another “unreadable” document is a secret communication from the CIA to the Office of Naval Intelligence about Oswald a month before the assassination, in October 1963.
Also included are documents designated in the 1990s by the Assassination Records Review Board as "not believed relevant" to the assassination, but still of historical interest. These include the CIA "operational" files of E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars and a career spy, and a CIA file on Jack Wasserman, a lawyer for New Orleans mafia boss Carlos Marcello and a longtime suspect in the assassination who was also involved in CIA plots to overthrow Castro in Cuba.