Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy, was shot and killed in front of cameras 54 years ago. He was shot by Jack Ruby, who later justified his actions by claiming that he could not bear Jacqueline Kennedy being a widow. Both Oswald and Ruby were believed to be deranged, but still, conspiracy theories about Kennedy's death and following developments have become a cottage industry since then.
Kennedy's colorful life and his popularity only fed these conspiracy theorists, as did his family's high society credentials.
And now we have Donald Trump, the latest president, tweeting: "long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow," which was last Thursday. The release of this treasure trove may bring an end to the half-a-century of debate. We may finally find out what really happened on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. Nearly 3,000 documents may give us some clues as to how and why Kennedy was killed. Or maybe not.
Trump, despite all he said to the contrary, caved to CIA and FBI appeals at the last minute and blocked the release of some documents. Trump cited national security concerns to veto, at least temporarily, the release of all the documents.
"I have no choice, today, but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation's security," he said.
Kennedy's assassination and its broader effects on world history make the whole matter one of the most talked about and speculated topics in history. For decades, Americans and the rest of the world, generation after generation, have wondered about what happened. One widely accepted conspiracy theory claims that the powers that be could not tolerate the U.S.'s first Catholic president. His actions were not approved by the established order of the American state. He openly discussed possible reform of the CIA and FBI, and he was not on the same page when it came to the military-industrial complex's plans for Cuba and Vietnam. His efforts to engage the Soviet Union are well known, as was his much opposed plan to revolutionize the U.S.'s monetary orthodoxy.
Most believe documents that are being released will do nothing to abate the conspiracy theory industry on JFK. Many commentators believe investigations and commissions launched to inform the world about what happened, such as the Warren Commission, were actually ploys to cover it up. It was easier to label Oswald a deranged fanatic, who was killed by another unhinged individual. Later on, similar excuses, a single disturbed man acting alone, were used to cover up other crimes and terrorist acts.
These documents are important to reveal whether conspiracy theories are correct. A first glance at the documents gives us an impression that they are just more of the same and will disappoint those interested. However, in the coming weeks, we will get more detailed scrutiny and scientific cross-analysis that may inform us further.
The first impression gives us one fact, at least. Trump's accusation of Republican Senator Ted Cruz during the presidential campaign, that Cruz's father was somehow involved in the assassination, is a blatant lie. Trump may be trying to keep the shadow of doubt alive by vetoing the release of all documents, which may also be aimed at hiding CIA and FBI complicity in what took place all those years ago.
On the other hand, Trump, who feeds on anarchy, may also be trying to create chaos through the release of the documents to divert attention from his own mismanagement.
A quick look also disabuses us of the notion that they finally contain the truth behind the whole affair.
According to CNN's quick analysis, some documents show a CIA plan to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The report said: "Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the president's brother, told the FBI he learned the CIA hired an intermediary … to go into Cuba and kill Castro."
There are some headline-worthy materials about Oswald, but not about President Kennedy. One claim is that the FBI knew Oswald was going to be shot. Another detail is that Oswald made a call to Russian Consul Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov in Mexico. Is this proof of a Russian connection? We do not yet know. Maybe he was asking for help or maybe he was just being a nuisance.
Documents also have information on CIA-linked coup plans. The murder of South Vietnam's President Ngo Dinh Diem after a coup is asserted as a CIA covert action.While the #JFKFiles hashtag is trending, the least it deserves is to consider that it has given headaches to millions for decades – the more popular reaction was a sense of palpable public disappointment.
Many still believe the CIA will never allow the release of documents that contain anything of substance and, consequently, we will never fully know how and why JFK was assassinated. There is also some debate on the originality of documents released. There are new conspiracy theories that they may be fabricate, or be recent forgeries to alleviate concerns raised by intelligence services.
At the end of the day, one fact remains the same. As a topic that has created an industry and the careers of plenty of people, no amount of evidence can put a stop to speculation.