Democrats and Republicans in Congress have joined with two famed authors of differing political perspectives to call on President Donald Trump for a “full public release” of the secret files on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In two resolutions introduced in Congress on Wednesday, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and supporters expressed “the sense of Congress” that the CIA, FBI, and all other federal agencies should release their classified records on the most famous murder of the 20th century.
“The president can be a real hero to the American people if he says the truth does matter,” Jones told AlterNet in a phone interview. In a written statement, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said, “Transparency in government is critical not only to ensuring accountability; it’s also essential to understanding our nation’s history,” and added, “…Americans deserve a full picture of what happened that fateful day in November 1963. Shining a light on never-before-seen government records is essential to filling in these blank spaces in our history.”
The CIA and FBI have not revealed whether they release the Kennedy files to the public.
Jones wants the White House to reject any claims for the continued postponement of the release of the records by October 26.
Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963 brought about six official investigations, which were accompanied by the widespread belief that the president was the victim of a conspiracy and not a lone gunman. The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, nicknamed the Warren Commission for its first leader -- Chief Justice Earl Warren -- was populated with political luminaries of the time, including Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI), who would later become a president himself. Years later, French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing claimed that Ford told him that the first conclusion reached by the Warren Commission was that Kennedy's assassination was organized, and not the work of a "lone nut."
Following the approval of the JFK Records Act in 1992, which mandated the release of all government records related to JFK’s death within 25 years, most of the files were made public. However, more than 35,000 documents remain fully or partially redacted and have never been seen by the public, researchers, or the media. By law, the federal government must obtain the written permission of the president to keep these documents secret after this month.
Among the unreleased records are CIA documents on senior intelligence officers who were involved in assassination, four persons involved in the infamous Watergate break-in, and secret testimony provided by James Jesus Angleton, who retired in 1975 as chief of the agency’s counter-intelligence division.
Besides Jones, the resolution calling for the release of the remaining Kennedy files has been signed by several members who served in Congress in 1992, and voted for the original JFK Records Act. Among them are: Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH, Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) Republicans co-sponsors in the House of Representatives are Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
In the Senate. Senate resolution (S. Res 281) was introduced by Sen. Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Leahy said in a statement, “Chairman Grassley and I both believe that a government of, by, and for the people simply cannot be one that needlessly hides information from them.”
Jones also said he plans to contact Roger Stone, a political consultant and supporter of Trump, and ask him to influence the president to order the release of the documents.
Stone has joined with Gerald Posner has to urge the president to release all remaining classified files on the Kennedy assassination. Stone is the author of the bestselling The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, where he theorized that Lyndon B. Johnson masterminded the assassination with assists from the CIA, the Mafia, and Texas oil interests. In his bestseller, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, Posner arrived at the the Warren Commission’s conclusion: that Kennedy was murdered by a sole gunman.
Stone and Posner have differences not only the Kennedy assassination but also in politics. However, they agree that the Kennedy files should be aired. “These files should have been released long ago,” said Posner. “The government does this all the time, over classified documents and then holds on to them for decades under the guise of ‘national security.’ All the secrecy just feeds people’s suspicions that the government has something to hide and adds fuel to conspiracy theories.” Posner believes the case will still be closed when the last document is made public.
Approximately 3,100 files are still sealed in The National Archives in Wasington. Under the 1992 JFK Records Act, the Archives have until October 26 to decide which of those files to publicly disclose. President Trump has the final authority to release the files or delay release for 25 years. Obama, for his part, delayed the release of the CIA’s Bay of Pigs documents that were scheduled for release during his presidency.
Stone said he understands that CIA Director Mike Pompeo wants to delay releasing the records for another 25 years. He said, “They must reflect badly on the CIA even thought virtually everyone involved is long dead ”
Stone believes evidence supporting the case in his book is still hidden somewhere in government files.
Some of the classified documents include a CIA personality study of Oswald, top-secret testimony of former CIA officers to congressional committees, transcripts of interrogations with Soviet defector and Oswald handler Yuri Nosenko, letters about the case from then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and First Lady Jackie Kennedy, the CIA file on Jack Wasserman, the attorney for New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello, and the operational file of E. Howard Hunt, career CIA officer and Watergate burglar.
Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.