The death of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was mysterious enough. Now, one of the seven volumes of the CIA’s documents regarding Lee Harvey Oswald, his alleged assassin, is missing.
When President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, it shocked the nation.
Whether Kennedy would have become a truly great, a mediocre or perhaps a terrible president will never be known. He showed leadership in speeches and in several initial policy actions. He showed heroism during World War II. However, he also led the country into the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion into Cuba and had some questionable family and personal connections.
Kennedy was the first president killed in the age of television. Many learned of his shooting within minutes of its happening. To this day, a major percentage of Americans who were alive at that time can remember where they were when they learned of the event.
The killing brought disbelief, shock and a feeling that America had lost someone with a strong personal connection to its citizens. Even legendary television news reporter Walter Cronkite of CBS News was brought to tears during the event.
Kennedy’s death brought with it a desire for rapid justice for whoever was responsible for the killing. The final official opinion was that the killer was a lone gunman, acting independently, named Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was caught, based on certain reports and sightings, and there was an investigation to prove he was the killer, discover if there was someone else besides him involved or perhaps even find that he wasn’t the killer after all.
Oswald himself did not live long enough after capture to be interrogated, as he was shot by Jack Ruby while being transferred in police custody. That killing, too, has raised its own questions.
As the evidence behind Kennedy’s shooting was investigated further, two stories emerged to explain the killing. The first and official story from the U.S. government and CIA personnel was that Oswald was the killer and acted alone. The second story, fuzzier but still widely believed because of the range of odd evidence that eventually came to light in the case, was that this was far from a one-man show on behalf of Oswald; rather, it was a far bigger conspiracy than this and Oswald may have just been a fall guy in the investigation – a wrong person showing up to investigators at just the right time.
This uncertainty is why it was considered so important – to history as a minimum and to our understanding of how the CIA and other government agencies were operating at the time – when the seven volumes of sealed CIA files on Lee Harvey Oswald were finally given a due date for going public. Those volumes were to be released in full to the public on October 26, 2017 – just a few weeks from now. This was guaranteed to happen by the Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
Once again, however, the United States is going to have to live without the complete truth – because what used to be a fully-intact set of seven volumes of documents, as certified by Russ Holmes of the Office of General Counsel in 1977, is now missing Volume 5.
The upcoming release had been looked forward to by many as an opportunity to perhaps finally learn about some of the previous unknowns from the investigations of the 1960s and 1970s that examined the case. It was further fueled by information that showed up in July 2017 when a total of 3,810 CIA and FBI documents were released by the Assassination Records Review Board. In those documents, one news source noted that Earle Cabell, the mayor of Dallas at the time of the assassination, and his brother Charles Cabell were both connected to the CIA. The mayor had been a CIA asset in the 1950s, and Charles was a high-ranking CIA official until 1962.
With the trip that President Kennedy made to Dallas being done mostly for political reasons and with little other value, the CIA connections of the city’s mayor – which clearly have been hidden from the public eye until now – may have major relevance.
Relating to the release of these documents, one group – the Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) – is planning a major reinvestigation of the killing starting the moment the documents are released. Attorney Lawrence Schnapf, co-chair of the CAPA legal committee and chair of the Environmental Law Section of the New York Bar Association, refers to the Warren Commission, which investigated the killing in detail in the 1960s, as the “original fake news” organization that created what became the official perspective on what went down in the Kennedy assassination. He plans a full mock trial of Oswald in November of this year, with the goal of showing that (as he said) “Lee Oswald was not the shooter … that’s what we hope to prove.” He went on to say that “Oswald was not convictable, much less indictable.”
With one of the seven critical volumes of files in the Oswald investigation now missing – despite being in theory protected within the safe confines of the ultra-secure CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia – proving Oswald’s innocence may be harder than Schnapf had originally expected. At the very least, the all-too-convenient recent news that one of only seven files on Oswald that were to be released in October 2017 is missing will certainly cast yet another dark shadow across the search for truth about the death of President John F. Kennedy.