New JFK Records May Explain Oswald's 'Raleigh Call'

But historians generally don't expect to see any smoking guns emerge in final document release
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2017 11:00 AM CDT
What to Expect With Release of Final JFK Documents
In this Nov. 22, 1963, photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas.   (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File)

On Thursday, the US is expected to make public the last sealed government documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. President Trump has the authority to block the move, but he has tweeted that he (probably) won't do so. Historians and armchair sleuths generally don't expect any bombshell revelations that cast suspicion beyond Lee Harvey Oswald, but because this is the JFK assassination, one thing is a safe bet when the National Archives dumps the records all at once: "Pandemonium is all but guaranteed," per an advance piece in Politico Magazine. Here's a look:

  • Focus on Mexico: USA Today expects the documents to shed light on Oswald's trip to Mexico just two months before the assassination. One JFK author predicts no startling revelations on that front, but he says the documents could prove embarrassing to prominent Mexicans. "There may be people who were informing to the CIA at the time who have moved on to careers in politics and business," says Gerald Posner.
  • 'Raleigh call': The News & Observer in North Carolina is curious whether the documents will explain a call to the Raleigh area that Oswald reportedly tried to place from the Dallas City Jail after his arrest. A switchboard operator said he tried to call a "John Hurt," but nobody picked up. The number belonged to a military vet with that name who once served in Army counterintelligence.
  • Conspiracy theories: The idea of making all of the documents public was to curb conspiracy theories, but ABC News notes that it could have the opposite effect. Some of the newly released papers could be "raw" and incomplete. An individual report on, say, Russia or Cuba could be taken out of context.

  • Cuba connection: Quartz runs through some of the theories the documents could support, including the idea that Fidel Castro somehow played a role in retaliation for US attempts on his life. But ultimately, the gist of the story is similar to others: Expect no smoking guns.
  • Keep in mind: Trump's tweet announcing the release left wiggle room ("subject to the receipt of further information") for him to change his mind at the last minute or to keep some of the documents under wraps, notes a post at Salon.
  • Thank Oliver Stone: So why are these remaining 3,000 or so documents finally being released? As the Washington Post explains, the 1990s law stipulating that all records be made public in 25 years stemmed in part from the controversy drummed up by the director's controversial film JFK.
  • Yawn: At the Chicago Tribune, Jerry Davich hopes Trump doesn't have a last-minute change of heart. Not because he expects the big reveal to solve mysteries, but because he wants this over with, and any further delays will only fuel more conspiracies. "As with most things in life, I'm expecting something between hysteria and disappointment," he writes. It will be "interesting to historians, intriguing to conspiracy theorists, but boring to the rest of us."
(More JFK assassination stories.)

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