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Anonymous call to British paper, threats to US President: What JFK files reveal

US President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the unveiling of 2,800 documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F Kennedy.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2017 14:51 IST
JFK,John F Kennedy,JFK assassination
US President John F Kennedy signs a proclamation for the interdiction of the delivery of offensive weapons to Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis, at the White House in Washington, DC.(Reuters File Photo)

US President Donald Trump has ordered the much-awaited release of about 2,800 secret documents related to the assassination of John F Kennedy, but withheld others for further review on national security grounds.

“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 honour a law mandating their release.

Here are five things the newly released documents reveal:

1) British paper got anonymous call just before assassination

A reporter on the UK’s Cambridge Evening News received an anonymous call telling him to ring the US embassy for some big news, 25 minutes before the murder of John F Kennedy in Dallas, newly released documents say, according to The Guardian.

A memo written to the director of the FBI from the deputy director (Plans) of the CIA tells of the strange phone call made to the unnamed senior reporter on the paper.

“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 MI-5.

“The important point is that the call was made according to MI-5 calculations, about 25 minutes before the president was shot. The Cambridge reporter had never received a call of this kind before and MI-5 state that he is known to them as a sound and loyal person with no security record.”

2) On Lee Harvey Oswald’s killing

One of the documents included a transcript of a November 24, 1963 conversation with J Edgar Hoover, who was FBI director at the time.

Hoover said the FBI informed police of a threat against the life of Lee Harvey Oswald the night before Oswald was killed. But police did not act on it, Hoover said.

The Warren Commission, which investigated the shooting of the charismatic Kennedy, 46, determined that Oswald, a former Marine sharpshooter, carried out the Kennedy assassination acting alone.

He was shot to death two days after killing Kennedy by a nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, as he was being transferred from the city jail.

The Warren Commission’s formal conclusion that Oswald killed JFK has done little to quell speculation that a more sinister plot was behind the murder of the 35th US president.

3) J Edgar Hoover’s concerns

In a memo by Hoover days after the assassination, the then FBI director expressed anxiety that Oswald’s killing would generate doubts among Americans. “The thing I am concerned about,” he wrote, “is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”

He said Oswald’s killing was “inexcusable” after “our warnings to the Dallas Police Department”.

4) Potential threats

Among the files is a more than 400-page document that appeared to describe people being monitored as potential threats to Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon B Johnson.

Officials described one such person this way: “Subject participated in pickets against JFK in 1961. Allegedly trained in guerrilla tactics & sabotage. Considered very dangerous by those who know him. Has visited USA & Cuba. Considered armed and dangerous.”

Some suspicions missed the mark badly.

One document describes a person who sent a letter to Johnson in December 1963 stating “you’re doomed.” The document says: “Interviewed 1/23/64; friendly. Said letter was a joke. Not dangerous. Attending 5th grade.”

5) Plot to kill Castro

A 1975 document on the CIA’s role in foreign assassinations said there were plans to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the beginning days of the Kennedy government.

The report said the President’s brother told the FBI he learned the CIA hired an a person “to approach Sam Giancana with a proposition of paying $150,000 to hire some gunman to go into Cuba and kill Castro.”

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 10:37 IST