On November 22nd, 1963, at about 12:30 PM, 35th President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas Texas. He was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, a former US Marine, using a Carcano Model 91/38 rifle which he fired from the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.
Three shots were fired by Oswald – the first shot missed entirely, while the second struck Kennedy in the back before traveling through his body and also striking then Texas Governor John Connolly. The third shot struck Kennedy in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
These were the facts as reported by the Warren Commission, a special House committee that was tasked with ultimately determining the truth surrounding the assassination of John K. Kennedy. For over a decade since his murder, conspiracy theories abounded concerning what truly happened that fateful afternoon in Dallas. Was it a government conspiracy? Was it a KGB plot to destabilize the US government? Revenge from the Cubans for the many failed assassination attempts on Fidel Castro? Or was Oswald truly acting alone?
The commission eventually released 98% of their investigation into the assassination, but 2% were deemed too sensitive by the CIA or FBI to be revealed. For decades those documents remained locked in government archives, never to see the light of day. Until now.
Here are 15 brand new facts that came from the recently released files.
15. CIA Planned Bounties For Killing Cuban Communists
One of the CIA’s initial theories as to why Oswald would even want to kill President Kennedy in the first place was for revenge on various failed plots to kill Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. America had very recently had its first nuclear scare in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it was entirely possible that Oswald was a Cuban secret agent.
Because of this fear, there were a ton of CIA documents concerning Cuba that got mixed up in the investigation into Kennedy’s murder. One of those documents detailed how the CIA would try to destabilize the Cuban government by dropping leaflets with bounties for killing or capturing communists – the higher up the communist chain, the more money would be offered.
14. CIA Wanted To Work With Mafia To Assassinate Cuban/Dominican Dictators
According to a 1975 “summary of facts document gathered by the Executive Director of the CIA Commission concerning possible involvement in plans to assassinate foreign leaders,” the CIA tried to get in bed with the Cuban mafia to kill Cuban and Dominican foreign leaders.
“The commission has determined that agents of the CIA were involved in planning in this country with certain citizens and others to seek to assassinate Premier Castro. The commission has also determined that the CIA was involved in shipping arms from this country to persons in the Dominican Republic, who sought to assassinate Generalissimo Trujillo.”
In the same document, there’s also mention of killing Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba and Indonesian president Sukarno, although it didn’t specify whether they’d try to get the mob to perform the hit.
13. CIA Thought Oswald Was A KGB Agent
Yuri Nosenko, a KGB defector, testified to the Warren Commission that Oswald acted alone and was never an agent of the KGB, however, documents now reveal the CIA handler in charge of Nosenko believed otherwise. He thought that Nosenko’s defection was to redirect blame from the Soviet Union by saying Oswald was not a KGB agent.
“If Nosenko is a KGB plant, as I am convinced he is,” says one letter to the CIA, “there can be no doubt that Nosenko’s recited story about Oswald in the USSR is a message from the KGB. That message says, in exaggerated and implausible form, that Oswald had nothing whatever to do with the KGB, not questioned for his military intelligence, not even screened as a possible CIA plant … By sending out such a message, the KGB exposes the fact that it has something to hide … That something may be the fact that Oswald was an agent of the KGB.”
12. Soviets Denied All Involvement With Oswald
The CIA had good reason to suspect Oswald as a Soviet spy – he’d lived in the Soviet Union in the late 50s and early 60s – but the Soviets denied any and all involvement with Oswald from the very beginning.
CIA spies in the Kremlin would later confirm the Soviet story, according to a letter sent to the FBI. “According to our source, Soviet officials claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald had no connection whatsoever with the Soviet Union. They described him as a neurotic maniac who was disloyal to his own country and everything else. They noted that Oswald never belonged to any organization in the Soviet Union and was never given Soviet citizenship.”
11. CIA Researched Starving Cuba After Missile Crisis
One of the more disturbing facts to come out of the JFK files was just how much the CIA had researched destabilizing the Cuban government. One particularly draconian measure that was entertained was inducing mass starvation by causing Cuban farms to fail.
In one file dated from 1962, the CIA considers “the possibility of producing crop failures by the introduction of biological agents which would appear to be of natural origin.”
In the notes taken during that meeting, General Carter, “emphasized the extreme sensitivity of any such operation and the disastrous results that would flow from something going wrong, particularly if there was obvious attribution to the U.S.” The CIA then replied that they could easily blame the Cuban government if anything went wrong.
10. British Newspaper Warned Of “Some Big News” Before Shooting
One of the more disturbing facts that came from the JFK files was how a British reporter was warned about “some big news” 25 minutes before Kennedy was assassinated. An anonymous caller tipped off UK’s Cambridge Evening News that there would be a story at the US embassy, according to a memo from the CIA to the FBI.
“The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American embassy in London for some big news and then hung up. After the word of the president’s death was received the reporter informed the Cambridge police of the anonymous call and the police informed MI5.
“The important point is that the call was made according to MI5 calculations, about 25 minutes before the president was shot.”
9. Oswald Threatened Night Before Being Shot
On November 24th, two days after killing JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald was being moved from the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters to a waiting armored car that would take him to jail. There were crowds of reporters there to take snapshots of the assassin. One of the men in the crowd was Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, who took out a pistol and shot Oswald in the chest as he was passing.
A memo from J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI Director at the time, says that the FBI actually warned the Dallas Police that a death threat had been made on Oswald the night before he had been shot. Hoover wrote that Oswald’s death was “inexcusable” after the police had already been warned, and some think that the cops deliberately kept security lax around Oswald in hopes that he would be killed.
8. Cuban Government Reacted With “Happy Delight”
The Cubans really didn’t like Kennedy, which you could hardly blame them for the whole embargo thing. So when they heard that Kennedy had been assassinated, they reacted with “happy delight”.
Or at least the Cuban ambassador did. The CIA paid a visit to the Cuban embassy to ask if they were involved in the assassination. They denied all involvement, but the Cuban ambassador didn’t appear nearly as upset as the general public over the whole debacle.
According to the 1963 memo, the Cuban embassy would later receive a missive from the Cuban government asking them to adopt a more somber tone and to “cease looking happy in public.” The Cuban ambassador was also ordered to attend the President’s funeral, although he made it clear he’d have much preferred not to.
7. Soviets Thought It Was A Coup By American ‘Ultraright’
Perhaps even more than the United States, the Soviet Union was truly spooked by the JFK assassination. They thought that it might’ve been a plot by far-right conservatives in the US to overthrow the more moderate government and maybe even start a war.
In a memo sent from FBI Director Hoover, the agency provides details from Soviet sources as to their reaction from the assassination. “According to our source, officials of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union believed there was some well-organized conspiracy on the part of the ‘ultraright’ in the United States to effect a ‘coup,'” the memo said. “They seem convinced that the assassination was not the deed of one man, but that it arose out of a carefully planned campaign in which several people played a part.”
6. Soviets Were Worried About Getting Nuked
In the same memo, Director Hoover also revealed that senior Soviet staff was very concerned that a renegade American general might launch a nuke in the power vacuum caused by JFK’s death.
“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.”
Those fears weren’t entirely unfounded. The current chain of command concerning nuclear weapons had only very recently been developed in the United States, and generals familiar with US missiles still had access to them. The KGB also knew that from their spies in the US, which made the Kremlin’s mood extremely tense in the aftermath of the shooting.
5. Oswald Spoke To A KGB Assassin
Oswald may never have been a KGB agent, but he certainly spoke to a KGB assassin while he was in Mexico City.
According to notes made during an intercepted phone call in Mexico City, Oswald went to the Soviet embassy there on September 28th, 1963 and spoke to consul Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov. The memo says that Kositkov was “an identified KGB officer” and a member of Department 13, a unit “responsible for sabotage and assassination”.
The CIA knew that Oswald was trying to get in bed with the Russians, but they didn’t know why. He’d later call the Soviet embassy again on October 1st, speaking broken Russian and asking the guard if there was “anything new concerning the telegram to Washington.” It’s possible he was trying to get Soviet sponsorship for the assassination of Kennedy.
4. FBI Was Looking For Oswald Before Assassination
Oswald was also known to the FBI before his assassination of JFK. According to a memo sent to the New Orleans division of the bureau, the Dallas division had been trying to locate Oswald in October of 1963 due to his involvement with “pro-Castro organizations”.
One agent wrote that Oswald was of interest due to “Cuban sources”, and that further information was being sent to the Dallas offices. “That office is presently conducting inquiries to locate Lee Harvey Oswald,” the memo said, before also going on to state that Oswald “has relocated in the Dallas territory.”
3. Oswald’s Killer Was In With Dallas Police
The man who killed Oswald was Jack Ruby, and while many speculated he had connections to the mafia, it’s now known he certainly had connections with the Dallas Police Force, which may explain how he managed to get so close to Oswald.
According to a letter sent to the FBI Director entitled “Hoodlum Connection”, Jack Ruby “had a B-girl operation where drinks were pushed heavily with no interference from the police department”. The letter was sent mere days after Kennedy had been killed.
However, the letter also went on to say the FBI informant was surprised Ruby had “actually killed Oswald” rather than simply wounding him “in the leg with a .22 caliber weapon in order to get publicity”. There was no mention of any connection to organized crime.
2. FBI Was Worried About Conspiracy Theories From The Start
While there’s plenty of criticism for former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, his handling of the JFK assassination is not one of them. Hoover was smart enough to know at the very beginning that the public would start to jump to conclusions on its own and that the FBI needed to do something to convince everyone that Oswald was the real assassin.
A November 24th memo from Hoover revealed his fears, saying, “The thing I am concerned about is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
1. Some Docs Still Withheld, Wikileaks Offering Reward
While nearly all of the JFK assassination documents are now out in the open, there are still some that are behind lock and key. Apparently, both the CIA and FBI made eleventh-hour overtures to President Trump to keep some documents secret as they may pose a risk to national security, which will undoubtedly keep many conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination alive and well.
But those conspiracy theorists never had to contend with Wikileaks. The notorious whistle-blower organization has offered a “$100,000 reward for the withheld JFK documents should they show violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error.”
Now it’s a race to see whether or not the current President will release the documents before Wikileaks gets a hold of them.
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