WASHINGTON — The Latest on the John F. Kennedy assassination files (all times local):
Even the former Soviet Union’s intelligence agency had a theory about who killed President John F. Kennedy.
That’s according to long-secret files on the assassination released Thursday. In a 1966 letter to a presidential assistant, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote that KGB officials claimed to have information “purporting to indicate” President Lyndon B. Johnson had a role in the assassination.
The claim was contained in instructions from Moscow to the KGB residency in New York “to develop information” on Johnson.
Those instructions contained the assertion that the KGB had information tying Johnson to an assassination plot, according to the source.
Johnson has long been a focus of some conspiracy theorists, but no credible information has been revealed linking him to the assassination.
Former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had concerns that the American public would be skeptical that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy.
That’s according to the latest trove of records released this week on the 1963 killing. Hoover dictated the memo two days after the assassination and just hours after nightclub owner Jack Ruby fatally shot Oswald in Dallas. In the document, Hoover laments that Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, was considering appointing a presidential commission to investigate Kennedy’s assassination. The FBI director suggests some details released to the public could feed conspiracy theories and complicate foreign relations.
He said he wanted to have “something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
Everyone has their theories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — even his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.
One of the 2,800 records released this week shows Johnson believed Kennedy was behind the assassination of the South Vietnamese president weeks before he was killed in Dallas. The document says Johnson believed Kennedy’s murder was payback. The 1975 deposition quotes CIA Director Richard Helms as saying Johnson had described his suspicion, but that Helms did not know where Johnson got that idea.
Johnson was quoted in a book, the Kennedy Assassination Tapes, as saying Kennedy died because of “divine retribution.”
Whether Kennedy had any role in Diem’s assassination is still debated, said Ken Hughes, a historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. Hughes says it’s not clear whether Kennedy insisted Diem go unharmed or left it up to the South Vietnamese generals to decide what to do.
At least one record on the Kennedy assassination released on Thursday reads like a spy novel.
A 1975 document described how the CIA had offered $150,000 offer to have Cuban leader Fidel Castro assassinated — but the mob insisted on taking the job for free.
The underworld murder-for-hire contract was detailed in a summary of a May 1962 CIA briefing for then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy. By then at least two efforts to kill Castro were made with CIA-supplied lethal pills and organized crime-made muscle, according to the document. The CIA’s mob contacts included Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana.
Giancana had asked a CIA intermediary to arrange to put a listening device in the Las Vegas room of an entertainer he suspected of having an affair with Giancana’s mistress. The task was handed off to a private investigator who later got caught.
The president’s brother was not happy to hear the details and said that if the government was going to “get involved with the Mafia,” officials should notify Kennedy first.
The document was made public in 1997 and contained in an Associated Press report at that time.
Newly released files say a British newspaper received an anonymous call about “big news” in the United States minutes before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
A batch of 2,800 declassified documents includes a memo to the director of the FBI, dated November 26, 1963, about a call received by the Cambridge News on November 22.
It says the caller said that “the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London for some big news, and then hung up.”
The memo says Britain’s MI5 intelligence service calculated that the call came 25 minutes before Kennedy was shot in Dallas.
Anna Savva, a current Cambridge News reporter, says the paper has no record of who took the call. She said Friday that learning of the call was “completely jaw-dropping.”
President Donald Trump has blocked the release of hundreds of records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, bending to CIA and FBI appeals, while the National Archives came out Thursday night with a hefty cache of others.
“I have no choice,” Trump said in a memo, citing “potentially irreversible harm” to national security if he were to allow all records to come out now. He placed those files under a six-month review while letting 2,800 others come out, racing a deadline to honor a law mandating their release.
The documents approved for release and made public late Thursday capture the frantic days after the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination, during which federal agents madly chased after tips, however thin, juggled rumors and sifted through leads worldwide.
They include cables, notes and reports stamped “Secret” that reveal the suspicions of the era — around Cubans and Communists.