History

History in the Making: JFK Assassination Files Released

Thursday was an important day in the history of the United States, as well as an important day for historians throughout the United States. Thursday evening, the National Archives released 2,800 documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

President Donald Trump announced earlier this week that he was releasing the documents. However, Congress actually set October 26, 2017, as a deadline for the secret files to be released. Trump had the power to stop them from being released and simply chose not to exercise that power.

Well, sort of.  National security agencies, most notably the CIA and FBI, advised Trump on keeping some of the files involving the JFK assassination classified because of reasons related to national security. Trump agreed to keep those documents redacted per the request of the agencies.

“I have no choice –today — but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security,” Trump wrote in a memo.

Trump is giving the FBI and CIA 180 days to review the redacted materials and assess whether or not those records need to remain secret from the public.

Nevertheless, the public now has 2,800 files related to the JFK assassination to pour through, looking for new information about one of the most important and contested events in American history. The JFK assassination has been a topic of great controversy, resulting in countless conspiracy theories.

Unfortunately, historians doubt that a “smoking gun” will be found that will lend credence to any conspiracy theory. However, the public should learn more about the details of the investigation.

“Oswald did it alone,” says journalist Gerald Posner. “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.”

Of course, with some files related to the JFK assassination remaining a secret, conspiracy theorists are unlikely to give up their outrageous claims. But if you think about it, the JFK assassination wouldn’t be the same if we knew the whole story, right?