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- Follow for updates as the government releases mysterious documents
- The John F Kennedy files will be published here
- If you spot an interesting fact, please let us know using the form here
What we’ve found so far
- The FBI were trying to track Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination, according to memos by New Orleans division of the bureau. An agent there wrote that Oswald was of interest according to “Cuban sources”, and that he had forwarded the information to Dallas authorities.
- The FBI warned Dallas police of a death threat to Lee Harvey Oswald, according to a memo by director J Edgar Hoover, but the police failed to protect him. “Last night we received a call in our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald.”
- Hoover started to fear conspiracy theorizing. “The thing I am concerned about,” Hoover said, “is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
- Soviet leaders considered Oswald a “neurotic maniac who was disloyal to his own country and everything else”. They, too, feared a conspiracy had killed Kennedy, perhaps organized by a rightwing coup or Lyndon Johnson. They also feared that a reckless general would launch a missile and start war in the aftermath of Kennedy’s death.
- Fidel Castro told American lawmakers that Cuba was not involved in the plot, when House investigators visited the island in 1978. In 1963, however, the Cuban ambassador tot the US reacted with “happy delight” to the murder, according to a CIA memo.
- The documents include a lengthy report on CIA assassination plotsand programs, and scores of pages of receipts and bookkeeping, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in covert programs. Many were directed at Cuba, others in the Dominican Republic, Congo, and north and south Vietnam.
- President Donald Trump blocked the release of an unknown number of documents, saying he had “no choice” but to bow to national security concerns of the FBI and CIA. He also ordered them to review their still secret documents over the next 180 days, setting a new deadline for releases, on 26 April 2018.
We’d like your help too. The JFK files will be published online here. If you’re reading through the documents and you spot an interesting fact or snippet you think we’ve missed, it would be great if you could let us know. We’ve set up a form here for contributions.
Castro told lawmakers Cuba played no role
In 1978, several members of the House committee reinvestigating the assassination traveled to Cuba, talking with officials there about Lee Harvey Oswald’s attempt to get a visa and Jack ruby’s visits to the island in 1959.
They also discussed “the alleged pro-Castro involvement in the assassination”. Right before departure, they met Fidel Castro.
The Cuban ambassador and his staff reacted to Kennedy’s murder with “happy delight”, according to a CIA memo dated to just days after the assassination.
“After further info was received indicating that Oswald had connections with Fair Play for Cuba committee there was some apprehension concerning possible US reaction,” the memo continues. After some indecision and reluctance, the ambassador eventually attended a requiem mass for Kennedy, “as official rep. of his govt.”
My colleague Ed Pilkington has found a memo from a CIA division chief regarding Lee Harvey Oswald’s contact with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City, in September 1963.
It suggests that conspiratorial ideas were creeping into senior levels of the CIA only a day after Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
According to an intercepted phone call in Mexico City, Lee Oswald was at the Soviet embassy there on 28 September 1963 and spoke with the consul, Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov. This was learned when Oswald called the Soviet embassy on 1 October, identifying himself by name and speaking broken Russian, stating the above and asking the guard who answered the phone whether there was “anytihng new concerning the telegram to Washington.” The guard chekced and told Oswald that a request had been sent, but nothing had as yet been received.
The FBI liaison officer, Mr Pappich, told me on 23 November that the Bureau has reason to believe that Oswald’s visit was to get Soviet support for a US passport or visa matter.
The CIA chief the calls Kostikov “an identified KGB officer” and a member of Department 13, a unit “responsible for sabotage and assassination”. He cites a source, a German national woman who lives in Oklahoma, met with Kostkikov and another Department 13 officer, Oleg Brykin. “Of course it is not usual for a KGB agent on a sensitive mission to have such overt contact with a Soviet embassy,” the CIA chief continues.
The CIA chief goes on to cite a Soviet admiral at length about the precautions and disguises that intelligence officers should use, suggesting that Kostikov’s presence was extremely unusual.
He adds, as a brief coda, that that same Soviet admiral says such blatant meetings by intelligence officers could also be simple carelessness. The CIA passed the information along to a FBI liaison.