WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump issued an order Thursday keeping 520 of the most sensitive Kennedy assassination records sealed for another 3-1/2 years, as the National Archives released a final batch of documents under a law meant to force most of the records into the light by last fall.
In 1992, Congress set a 25-year deadline for releasing remaining documents stemming from John F. Kennedy’s murder in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
When the deadline arrived — Oct. 26 last year — Trump gave federal agencies a six-month extension to plead the case for keeping selected records sealed, if they could assert a vital national security interest. The FBI and CIA in particular had pressed for more time.
Today’s batch of 19,045 documents can be downloaded here, along with previously released records, such as secret 1978 testimony from a former CIA station chief in Mexico City, David Atlee Phillips, a Fort Worth native.
He called assassin Lee Harvey Oswald “loony” and insisted that as far as he could tell, Oswald had acted alone.
“God knows I would like for it to come out that Fidel Castro was responsible or that the Soviets were responsible,” Phillips testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, under questioning by Rep. Floyd Fithian, an Indiana Democrat. “But I know of no evidence to show that the Cubans or the Soviets put him up to it, and I just have to go along on the side that he was a kind of loony fellow who decided to shoot the president, and he did.”
The transcript of the four decade-old testimony was among the batch of documents released Dec. 15. Historians, assassination buffs and conspiracy theorists are still digging through that and other batches for insights into the investigation and countless unrelated topics, from the U.S. escalation in Vietnam to assassination plots and meddling with unfriendly regimes in Cuba, Chile and other nations.
(Hat tip to Bud Kennedy for flagging the Phillips testimony.)