SALT LAKE CITY — Conspiracy theories abound over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy more than 50 years ago.
And with the government releasing another batch of files on his death, proponents of those many views undoubtedly will pick out what they can to bolster their claims. The secret files have fueled rumors and speculation that gunman Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't the only person involved in killing Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
“There will be a great deal of froth. People will try to sneak in and grab a fact out to support whatever their position is, primarily on Oswald and Oswald’s role,” said John Reed, a University of Utah history professor.
The government was required to release by Oct. 26 the final files containing thousands of pages under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act passed in 1992. Only the president can stop any of the documents from being made public.
Late Thursday, President Donald Trump approved the release of 2,800 records by the National Archives, but withheld thousands more for review by the CIA, FBI and other federal agencies over the next 180 days.
“I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted. At the same time, executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. I have no choice — today — but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security," he said in a memo released by the White House.
Trump previously tweeted that the documents would come out Thursday.
“The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow,” he promised Wednesday. “So interesting!”
Reed said there might or might not be a smoking gun in the material. But he wonders how well-organized the files will be for people to navigate. He said the half-dozen "respectable" publishers of university press type studies of the assassination would eventually get a handle on it.
"In six months or nine months it will be organized by hook or by crook," he said on KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show." "It's just that there's this interim period where it will be just this huge pile of dust like a construction site."
After the Warren Commission in 1964 reported that Oswald was the lone gunman, theories began to emerge over whether or not he had been the only shooter and if the CIA had been involved in the assassination. A congressional investigation in 1979 found no evidence to support the belief that the CIA was involved.
Oswald, a former U.S. Marine, was fatally shot by Texas nightclub owner Jack Ruby two days after Kennedy's murder but before authorities had a chance to question him.7 comments on this story
The Kennedy collection consists of more than 5 million pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and artifacts, according to the National Archives. Most of the records are open for research.
About 30,000 files have been previously released, though with heavy redactions, and the National Archives will post the newly released files on its website.
In July, 3,810 documents, including 441 formerly withheld in full, and 3,369 documents formerly released with portions redacted were made available.
The 1992 law required the government to release the remaining documents within 25 years’ time.