The FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's memo is one of at least 52 records never previously made public that were included in the release Thursday of about 2,800 unredacted government documents related to Kennedy's murder in Dallas two days earlier.
Experts have repeatedly said it's unlikely that there's anything groundbreaking in the documents. But as journalists and historians pored through the enormous database of material Thursday night and Friday morning, some interesting nuggets were turning up, among them Hoover's Nov. 24 memo.
Hoover expressed concerns that Americans would harbor doubts about Oswald’s guilt
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover — in a memo penned on November 24, 1963, the same day that Lee Harvey Oswald, the perpetrator of the John F. Kennedy assassination, was killed in apparent retribution by a man named Jack Ruby — voiced concern that Oswald’s death would result in uncertainty among U.S. citizens over his guilt. Hoover discussed the need to find concrete evidence.
“The thing I am concerned about, and so is [Deputy Attorney General Nicholas] Katzenbach, is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin,” Hoover wrote.
Hoover added of Oswald’s death: “There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead.”
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
Hoover wrote of Ruby potentially having “underworld activity”
Ruby, who killed Oswald just two days after he was apprehended and charged with Kennedy’s assassination, was rumored to have ties to the seedy underbelly of Chicago, Hoover wrote in the same November 24, 1963 memo, documents show.
“We have no information on Ruby that is firm, although there are some rumors of underworld activity in Chicago,” Hoover wrote. He added that it was “inexcusable” that Dallas police allowed Oswald to be killed, despite warnings from the federal government to be wary of potential retribution for the killing of Kennedy.
Many have since gone on to speculate and investigate whether Ruby had ties to organized crime.
Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby as Oswald is being transferred by police to the Dallas County jail, Sunday, November 24, 1963
Oswald spoke with a KGB official just 2 months prior to the assassination
Oswald was intercepted speaking to an agent of the KGB, the ruthless security and intelligence arm of the Soviet Union, just a couple months prior to the Kennedy shooting. Records show that during a call between him and the Russian embassy in Mexico City, Mexico, flagged by the CIA, Oswald was heard speaking to Consul Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikova “in broken Russian,” whom the documents say was an “identified KGB officer.” Though the call may have been intercepted by “the agents own carelessness,” the documents say, it was “not usual” for the KGB to engage in such discussions at a Soviet embassy.
March 17, 1962. Reception at the White House of the black leaders by president Kennedy. Of left on the right Dr. Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins, John F. Kennedy
Martin Luther King Jr., a well-known FBI target, was repeatedly mentioned
The released documents included a slew of files related to the late Martin Luther King Jr., a well-known target of the FBI. One such file, the beginning of which is heavily redacted, includes pages dated from May 18-19, 1966 appearing to list 18 names and phone numbers of persons involved in phone calls to and from King.
Another heavily redacted document gives insight into the FBI’s concerns regarding King’s relationship with communist movements. “In Subject’s many activities in the civil rights movement, he has sought and relied upon the advice of various individuals, including the following:”— where the list is redacted. The file continues to detail King’s authoring of an article titled “What We Negroes Ask of the President,” noteworthy for its “exclusive publication” in an October 1964 issue of Vie Nuove, “an Italian weekly magazine owned by the Italian Communist Party.”
The documents continue to follow King’s influence on an international stage even following his assassination, with an April 1968 cable labeled “Eyes Only” reporting a demonstration in Japan “as a rally of 1,000 people for ‘assassinated civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King.’”The file refers to Beheiren, a Japanese activist group instrumental in protesting the country’s assistance to the U.S. during the Vietnam War.
Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon
Lyndon Johnson claimed Kennedy assassination was payback for killing of Vietnamese leader, intelligence chief said
CIA Director Richard Helms, who served under both the Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations, claimed in April 1975 that Johnson used to claim that Kennedy’s killing was an act of foreign retribution, the documents show.
“President Johnson used to go around saying that the reason President Kennedy was assassinated was that he had assassinated President Diem,” Helms said in a deposition.
Oswald was a “good shot,” according to Cuban intelligence official
A Cuban intelligence officer told another Cuban that he knew that Oswald was a “good shot,” because he “knew him.” The conversation was unearthed from records of a previously secret channel.
Robert F. Kennedy, left, Marilyn Monroe and President John F. Kennedy in 1962 photo taken by Cecil Stoughton.
Robert F. Kennedy was warned about book detailing his “close relationship” to Marilyn Monroe
Robert F. Kennedy, the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy, was sent a memo warning him about the looming release of a book divulging information on his “close relationship” with icon Marilyn Monroe. According to the memo, “The strange death of Marilyn Monroe,” a 1964 book by Frank Capell, alluded to the pair frequently. “Throughout the book … Capell claims that you had a close relationship with Miss Monroe,” documents show officials warning Robert F. Kennedy, the then-attorney general.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the release of 2,800 documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy but yielded to pressure from the FBI and CIA to block the release of some information, senior administration officials said.
Congress had ordered in 1992 that all records relating to the investigation into Kennedy’s death should be open to the public, and set a final deadline of Oct. 26, 2017, for the entire set to be made public. Trump had confirmed on Saturday that he would allow the documents to be made public.
Administration officials told reporters on a conference call that Trump ordered government agencies to study the redactions in the documents over the next 180 days to determine whether they needed to remain hidden from the public. After the review, Trump expected such withholdings to be rare.
The officials described Trump as reluctant to accept agency requests to hold back thousands of documents but felt in the end he had no choice but to agree to their entreaties.
“The president wants to ensure there is full transparency here and is expecting that the agencies do a better job in reducing any conflicts within the redactions and get this information out as quickly as possible,” one official said.
Another official said: “There does remain sensitive information in the records” that could compromise the identify of informants or intelligence operations.
Academics who have studied Kennedy’s slaying on Nov. 22, 1963, during a motorcade in Dallas said they expected the final batch of files to offer no major new details on why Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down the Democratic president.
They also feared that the final batch of more than 5 million total pages on the Kennedy assassination held in the National Archives would do little to quell long-held conspiracy theories that the 46-year-old president’s killing was organized by the Mafia, by Cuba, or a cabal of rogue agents.
‘WHERE THE EVIDENCE IS’
Thousands of books, articles, TV shows and films have explored the idea that Kennedy’s assassination was the result of an elaborate conspiracy. None have produced conclusive proof that Oswald, who was fatally shot two days after killing Kennedy, worked with anyone else, although they retain a powerful cultural currency.
“My students are really skeptical that Oswald was the lone assassin,” said Patrick Maney, a professor of history at Boston College. “It’s hard to get our minds around this, that someone like a loner, a loser, could on his own have murdered Kennedy and changed the course of world history. But that’s where the evidence is.”
Kennedy’s assassination was the first in a string of politically motivated killings, including those of his brother Robert F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., that stunned the United States during the turbulent 1960s. He remains one of the most admired U.S. presidents.
Additional reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Peter Cooney