JFK declassified documents: What did we learn?

On Balance with Leland Vittert

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A stockpile of government documents declassified and released by the National Archives does not reveal a “smoking gun” about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a national security attorney told NewsNation.

The documents reveal new information about Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip to Mexico City. Nearly 1,500 newly released documents contain many memos from the FBI and other officials’ meetings with informants.

“In 1963, two months before the assassination, he [Oswald] visited the Soviet and the Cuban embassies,” attorney Mark Zaid, who represented some of the Secret Service agents in Dallas when Kennedy was shot, told NewsNation’s Leland Vittert. “And we started to learn some more information about that, particularly with respect to how much the CIA was actually monitoring his actions and movements at the time.”

Another memo, dated the day after Kennedy’s assassination, says that according to an intercepted phone call in Mexico City, Oswald communicated with a KGB officer while at the Soviet embassy that September.

Zaid said that there are tens of thousands of records about JFK’s shooting that have been either redacted or are being kept secret.

“Some documents we may never get, particularly because there are statutes that prevent them from being released … IRS documents, court records that are sealed.”

Zaid also noted that while these documents don’t really change the dynamics of the case, it does help historians and researchers fill in the necessary gaps.

“What it’s doing is filling in gaps, particularly for historians, that means very valuable information so that we know more about what our intelligence agencies and foreign policy was during the Cold War, especially during the early ’60s into the 1970s.”

In 2017, President Donald Trump blocked the released of hundreds of records because of concerns from the FBI and CIA. However, President Joe Biden in October set a deadline for the documents to be released.

Zaid added although the assassination is over 50 years old, there are still reasons why the government is not being transparent about the case.

“Those people, those staff who worked in the embassy were in their mid-20s. They’re in their early to mid-80s. Now, some of these people are likely still alive. And you can imagine what the Cuban government or maybe the Russian government now might do to them or their families were it found out that they revealed information to the CIA as traitors to their country 60 years ago.”

Biden has set a second deadline for Dec. 15, 2022, to allow more documents to be reviewed and released.

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