JFK files: Here are the most shocking details revealed in declassified papers

54 long years after JFK's unfortunate death, 2,800 previously classified documents relating to the assassination of the former president has been released by the National Archives. The release by mandated by a 1992 law, which set a deadline of 26 October 2017 and current President Donald Trump has chosen not to block the release of these documents despite concerns raised by the FBI and CIA that it might threaten national security.

Also, read: JFK secret files: 10 government secrets that caused an uproar after being made public

A White House official later clarified that out of the 3,200 odd documents, a few hundred would remain hidden and redacted "because of the national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns." However, the president has ordered agencies to re-review all of the redactions over the course of the next 180 days, and that if at the end of the period he's not convinced they genuinely pose a threat, then they would also be publicly disclosed.

Jackie Kennedy and people look for cover as President Kennedy lies dead over her. Source: Twitter

Historians and curious readers alike have been meticulously and religiously combing through the documents and a few have revealed the eye-raising covert operations the government had involved itself in during the height of the Cold War in the 60s; pertaining mostly to Cuba. Here's what we know so far.

#8 The US tried to induce a famine in Cuba

(Source: NARA)

Code-named Operation Mongoose, the objective was to introduce biological agents into the country that would appear to have a natural origin. McGeorge Bundy, the serving attorney general at the time, dismissed any concerns and said that any sabotage would be made to appear as the result of local Cuban disaffection or a natural disaster. However, he did suggest staying away from chemicals unless they could be completely covered up.

(Source: NARA)

Also detailed in that particular document was a plan to attack and harass Soviet personnel, who were offering aid to Castro's government in Cuba.

#7 The government thought Martin Luther King Jr. had communist ties with the Soviet Union

(Source: NARA)

In a set of 1967 CIA documents, the agency filled out a report on African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and considered if there might have been a link between the movement raging in the U.S and communism. It points out a November 4, 1964, Washington Post article which stated that King was planning to visit the Soviet Union. The document also details out an Italian weekly magazine, owned at the time by the Italian Communist Party, which carried an article titled 'What We Negroes Think of the President,' but rules out the question of whether it was directed specifically towards a communist audience.

(Source: NARA)

Another CIA document speaks on a more positive note of King. It talks about a 'black militant situation' in Chicago but that one of its sources, 'A,' believed King 'sought at least constructive, positive projects,' compared to the demagogic behavior of the leaders of smaller black extremist groups.

#6 CIA's genius plan to get rid of communism was to drop leaflets encouraging people to kill officials

(Source: NARA)

In a document dated to 1975 that addressed issues such as the Bay of Pigs operation, anti-Castro activities, Cuban exiles, and the assassination of foreign leaders was a proposal to airdrop leaflets into Cuba that encouraged citizens to kill various communist officials. The CIA's obsession with killing Castro meant they schemed up a plethora of bizarre plans to kill the Cuban premier, including poison, botulism pills, and the use of Cuban exiles - a plan that formed the Bay of Pigs debacle.

The document also makes the point that there was no sure way of overthrowing Castro short of military intervention and that the cost of such an action would be substantial. The leaflets were, therefore, Plan B.

"Leaflets will be designed to indicate phases. For example, the first leaflets will contain only names of communist leaders; the next leaflets will revise the names by job; i.e. cell leader, informer, party members, etc.; any of the above or subsequent leaflets will announce the amount of the reward, how and where it may be collected. One final leaflet may be deemed advisable and that one announcing a .02c reward for the delivery of Castro.” 

#5 Though Lee Harvey Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union, they did not trust him

(Source: NARA)

According to an intercepted telephone call in Mexico City, Oswald was at the Soviet embassy in the city on 28 September 1963 and managed to speak with the consul, Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov. The CIA document also calls Kostikov “an identified KGB officer” and a member of Department 13, a unit “responsible for sabotage and assassination”.

But a later document says that according to their sources, Soviet officials claimed Oswald had 'no connection whatsoever' with the Soviet Union. They described him as a 'neurotic maniac' who was disloyal to his own country. The document also noted that Oswald never belonged to any organization in the Soviet Union and was never offered citizenship.

#4 Castro washed his hands off the assassination

(Source: NARA)

In 1978, several members of the House committee reinvestigating the assassination of Kennedy traveled to Cuba and talked to officials about Oswald's attempt to acquire a visa to the island. They also tried to glean information on Castro's alleged involvement in the plot but that the Premier assured the committee that neither he nor his government had any involvement in the shooting.

However, that didn't stop the officials from the country from taking delight in Kennedy's murder. A CIA memo dated only a few days after the assassination suggests that the Cuban ambassador and staff reacted to Kennedy's murder with 'happy delight.'

#3 The USSR feared 'irresponsible' US would launch a missile at them

(Source: NARA)

Following the chaos that reigned supreme after Kennedy's assassination and the conspiracy theories that amok, the USSR feared that the US would find a way to blame them for Kennedy's death. The document reads: "Our source further stated that Soviet officials were fearful that without leadership, some irresponsible general in the United States might launch a missile at the Soviet Union."

"It was the further opinion of the Soviet officials that only maniacs would think that the “left” forces in the United States, as represented by the Communist Party, USA, would assassinate President Kennedy, especially in view of the abuse the Communist Party, USA, has taken from the “ultraleft” as a result of its support for the peaceful coexistence and the disarmament policies of the Kennedy administration."

#2 The interrogation of a KGB defector

(Source: NARA)

In the 2,800 odd documents are multiple transcripts of interrogations of Yuri Nosenko, a KGB defector. One such transcript talks about a discussion between the interrogator and the defector where Yuri speculates that Stalin had his wife murdered. He says that Stalin worked through the night into the morning and that he was rarely available during the day.

(Source: NARA)

He also talked about a very common rumor amongst the KGB - that Stalin's wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, had been murdered by the leader. He also said that even many years after his wife's death, Stalin would go at night to the cemetery at Novo-Devichiy Monastyr' to visit her grave, sitting there for several hours at a time.

#1 FBI officers were looking for Lee Harvey Oswald for nearly a month before the assassination

(Source: NARA)

According to memos by the New Orleans division of the FBI, the Dallas division of the bureau was trying to track Lee Harvey Oswald in October 1963, a month before the unfortunate assassination of President Kennedy. An agent wrote that Oswald was a subject of interest according to 'Cuban sources,' and that he had forwarded the tip to Dallas authorities.

One line in the document reads: "Will maintain contact with Cuban sources for any indication of additional activity on the part of a subject organization which appears to have become inactive since the departure from New Orleans of Lee Harvey Oswald."

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Akshay Pai


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