After more than five decades, the last classified documents about President John F. Kennedy's assassination will finally be revealed to the public.
Since that fateful day in November of 1963, Kennedy's name has been linked more with his untimely death than any of his political accomplishments. Just 46 when he was killed, Kennedy's assassination sent America into mourning, and also left us with unanswered questions.
Rumors, mysteries and conspiracy theories about the president's death became so common that in 1992 President George H.W. Bush passed a law requiring that all information about the Kennedy killing be released by October 26, 2017. With the deadline fast approaching, conspiracy theorists are anxious to learn what secrets have been kept from the public for more than 50 years.
While 99% of the documents related to the Kennedy assassination have already been revealed to the public, as many as 113,000 never-before-seen documents are expected to be released when the deadline expires.
Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
While President Donald Trump gets final say on whether or not the papers see the light of day, he's only supposed to keep them classified if they will cause "identifiable harm" to our nation's military or defense by being released. Trump has also tweeted that he will allow "the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened."
And conspiracy theorists hope the new information will shine a light on the "missing link" of the Kennedy assassination...
The first official investigation into President Kennedy's death, the Warren Report, found that the shooter Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, and that there was no sign of any larger conspiracy.
But soon after the 900-page report was released, amateur detectives started poking holes in it. Even the Church Committee, an official Congressional committee, concluded that Oswald was part of a larger conspiracy. By 2003, more than 70% of people told ABC news that they didn't believe Oswald had acted alone.
Oswald did seem like an obvious suspect: he was a former U.S. Marine nicknamed "Oswaldovitch" by his friends for his Communist beliefs. Oswald had even tried to immigrate to Soviet Russia, but returned to America in 1962 when his application was rejected. But the alleged shooter always insisted he was "a patsy," and that someone else was to blame for Kennedy's death.
To make things more complicated, eyewitnesses reported seeing gunshots from other locations in Dealey Plaza, including the now-infamous "Grassy Knoll." The most important piece of physical evidence, President Kennedy's brain, also went missing during his autopsy.
The Mexico City Trip
If the new documents can shine any light on the mystery of Oswald's involvement in the shooting, it may be by revealing details about his trip to Mexico City. Oswald visited Mexico just two months before the shooting, and had meetings in Cuba and Soviet Russia's embassies there.
Oswald claimed he was trying to apply for visas to travel to the Communist countries, but some believe he was convinced to take part in the assassination during his trip to Mexico. The last release of documents included an account from a Russian spy who denied that Oswald was working for the Soviets, but we don't know much about his trip to the Cuban embassy.
Historians, former spies and other experts have their own theories about what the documents will say...
The Smoking Gun
While conspiracy theorists are holding out for a connection between Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the shooting, most experts aren't as hopeful.
"Oswald did it alone," says Gerald Posner, who wrote the book Case Closed about the Kennedy assassination. "But what the files are doing and why they're important to come out is they fill in the history of the case and show us how the FBI and CIA repeatedly hid the evidence." That may explain why CIA director Mike Pompeo asked for the documents to stay closed.
"There may be people who were informing to the CIA at the time who have moved on to careers in politics and business, and the revelation that they were informing will be embarrassing to them," Posner explains. And other U.S. spy projects in Cuba or Latin America could be revealed in the documents.
Ironically, the documents might also shed light on the U.S. government's attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Investigating the CIA's own conspiracy theories, the Church Committee found the agency had attempted to kill Catro eight times between 1960 and 1965.
Cuban counterintelligence says the number of attempts was actually much higher, and details may be revealed in the final documents.
Less controversially, the new release will give the public their first glimpse at Jackie Kennedy's handwritten notes about her husband's death, and her plans for his funeral.
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