On Saturday, October 21, President Donald Trump tweeted that he will release to the public “the long blocked and classified JFK FILES.”
He also qualified this, saying that this decision is “subject to the receipt of further information.” Nonetheless, there is excitement in some circles. In the words of the Dallas News, “decades of secrecy” (54 years to be precise) may have come to an end.
It is difficult to believe that the release will resolve debate on this tangled and pivotal question in the history of the United States: why and by whom was President Kennedy killed on November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas? Why and by whom was the suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, killed while in custody and before he could stand trial?
Conspiracy theorists will not be swayed. Any evidence from the still secret files that fits into their various theories will seem to them well and good, of course. Any evidence that doesn’t fit will be easily made to fit: the conspirators have had half a century to plant discordant evidential notes, or to scrub their dirt clean. Nor does it seem likely that those who are convinced that the Warren Commission had it right in the first place – that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and that Jack Ruby then acted alone in killing Oswald – will have their hearts and minds converted by a new release.
Left Wing View
Gerald Posner, perhaps the best known contemporary theorist defending the “lone gunman” view, is of centrist and somewhat wavering political persuasion. He supported Al Gore during the 2000 campaign, but after the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States he wrote an op ed expressing admiration for President George W. Bush’s leadership skills. He later changed his views again, criticizing Bush from a center-left perspective.
At any rate: the immediate reaction of much of the U.S. left to news of release of the files was that this was a Trumpian distraction, offered to take the eyes of the public off of more immediate concern.
Another twitter denizen, Shannon Sharpe, was more specific about what “other things” are at issue. “Special counsel Mueller wants to see Pres Trump’s tax return files not the JFK files.”
Likewise Steve Redmond: “Could someone in the file room please insert a few of Trump’s tax returns in the middle of the JFK files?”
Right Wing View
Some on twitter are speculating on what light, if any, the documents to be released might throw on the life circa 1963 of Senator Cruz’ father, Rafael B. Cruz.
There has also been some discussion of what pressure Trump might have been under to further delay release of these files. Politico says that the CIA wanted him to block release on national security grounds.
This has led to what might be the most common rightward response thus far: The ‘deep state’ wants secrecy – Trump opts for transparency – hurrah for Team Trump!
But streiff, at RedState, takes the contrary view that there is nothing for the CIA to worry about. It has tried to keep the documents secret just because “that is what bureaucracies do,” despite the fact (as streiff sees it) that “there is nothing in the remaining documents that sheds any light on the assassination.”