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By Bill Hoagland
It has been nearly sixty years since John F. Kennedy was assassinated but the question of who was involved in that horrible episode in our lives continues. You would think that by now, we would have all the answers as to whether it was certain Cuban exiles, the mafia, the CIA or just Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, but we don’t. One of the reasons we don’t have all the answers is because, believe it or not, the US government has still not released certain documents pertaining to that fateful day. There are approximately 15,000 documents that have still not been released because their release could create “potentially irreversible harm to our national security”. Really? Almost sixty years later?
And you know what is even more weird about this? It is that both President Trump and President Biden agree on this issue– that the release of this information could create “potentially irreversible harm to our national security”.
First, here is a brief history on what led to where we are today: After the Warren Commission concluded Oswald acted alone, there was increasing evidence that this determination was inaccurate. In 1991, for example, Oliver Stone directed a movie entitled “JFK” in which he suggested that it was the CIA who was really behind the assassination. In 1992, to counter that theory and all those other conspiracy rumors, Congress passed the “President JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992”. That legislation required the US government to release all records pertaining to the JFK assassination not later than October 26, 2017—that’s right, the government was given an extra 25 years to drag out whatever they were still hiding. But, believe it or not, there was a loophole in that legislation. Under that loophole, the President could still block the release of any documents that the President believed might create “potentially irreversible harm to our national security”. So on October 26, 2017, President Trump extended the release date for certain “sensitive” documents until 2021 and on October 24, 2021, President Biden temporarily extended that release date until December 15, 2021, at which time the issue will be reviewed again.
So what could possibly still be a “risk to our national security”? Well, for example, there was a report published in the Miami Herald on October 30 that Oswald may have attended a secret training camp where the CIA trained hand-picked personnel how to become assassins. The story is that Oswald was being groomed to act as a double-agent to slip into Cuba and to assassinate Fidel Castro. The source of that information also indicated that this trained group—consisting of Cuban exiles known as Brigade 2506—was sent to Dallas a few days before the JFK assassination to be on standby for “clean-up duties”, whatever that means. They remained in Dallas until after the assassination but were never told by the CIA as to why they had to be there. If there is credible documentation in these unreleased documents to the effect that the CIA trained Oswald to be a sniper or that they were somehow otherwise involved in the JFK assassination, it is understandable why the government would be hesitant to release that information even 58 years later. Maybe this rumor is unfounded, as are so many other rumors relating to the JFK assassination, but maybe not. That would certainly explain the foot dragging if this rumor has some truth to it.
President Biden will have the option on or before December 15 to “kick the can down the road”, and let someone else deal with the fallout of whatever it is that is believed to be so detrimental. I, for one, think it is time to quit kicking the can any further. Fifty-eight years is long enough.
Note: I realize people born after 1963 probably couldn’t care less about the JFK assassination, but I guarantee just about anyone who was at least 15 years old on November 22, 1963 can tell you exactly where they were when they heard that Kennedy had been shot. It was and still is, for many of us, “a big deal”.
– Bill Hoagland has practiced law in Alton for more than 50 years, but he has spent more than 70 years hunting, fishing and generally being in the great outdoors. His wife, Annie, shares his love of the outdoor life. Much of their spare time is spent on their farm in Calhoun County. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.