The US Is About To Release 3,000 Classified JFK Files. Here's What They Are

History
President John F. Kennedy opens at a Washington news conference on Sept. 13, 1962, with a lengthy statement on the Cuban situation.
Photo via Associated Press

President Donald Trump announced that the National Archives will release more than 3,000 JFK files, many of which have been classified since the 1960s.


The formal date of the release is October 26, 2017, as determined by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which George H.W. Bush signed into law exactly 25 years ago.

What are the JFK files?

Sure to be fodder for conspiracy theorists, the files all relate to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Following Kennedy's murder, more than 30,000 government documents — totaling millions of pages — have been incrementally released to the public, although many of them have been redacted or only partially released.

Much of the public stayed in the dark about the presence of these files until Oliver Stone's 1991 film "JFK," in which a closing statement told the public about the secret documents. Movie-goers quickly turned into letter-writers, as concerned citizens began demanding that Washington make the full set of files available.

Congress accelerated the choice to declassify them, and President Bush signed the Records Collection Act a year later. The act created a review board known as the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) that oversaw the documents' release.

What could be in the files

Of the tens of thousands of documents already partially released, approximately 3,100 still remain classified. No one knows exactly what information is contained in the files; the only guide is an index that vaguely lists the contents of the secret documents.

The index does, however, present eyebrow-raising file names that seem to implicate a connection between the ARRB and the CIA. One such batch of files is listed with the subject line "CIA CORRESPONDENCE RE ARRB," Politico reports.

That particular set of files could indicate the CIA was engaging in intelligence operations at the time the ARRB was created, and that it feared releasing files could compromise the operation, Judge John R. Tunheim, who led the ARRB, told Politico.

Related: Did Lee Harvey Oswald Act Alone? An Army Vet’s Investigation Suggests Otherwise »

But conspiracy theorists who don't believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy are likely to be disappointed, Gerald Posner, the author of "Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK," told CNN.

"Anybody who thinks this is going to turn the case on its head and suddenly show that there were three or four shooters at Dealey Plaza — it's not the case," Posner said. More likely is that the documents offer greater detail about the CIA's investigation of Kennedy's murder, such as a trip Oswald took to Mexico a few weeks before Kennedy was shot.

What Trump will release

There is some doubt whether Trump will follow through with allowing the National Archives to dispense the documents in full.

Speaking to Politico, an anonymous White House official said that "unless there is a dramatic change of heart, there will not be an absolutely full release of this information." Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters said the administration was working "to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public."

When the Archives does release the files, it has said it'll do so all at once — putting to rest some questions the American public may have about Kennedy's murder, but no doubt raising more.

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Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

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Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

President Donald Trump has ended the decade-long saga of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn by ordering a murder charge against the former Green Beret dismissed with a full pardon.

The Army charged Golsteyn with murder in December 2018 after he repeatedly acknowledged that he killed an unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn's charge sheet identifies the man as "Rasoul."

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(Screenshot from 'Leavenworth')

President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been convicted of murder for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men, two of whom were killed.

Lorance will now be released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been serving a 19-year sentence.

"He has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence he received. Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress," said a White House statement released Friday.

"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'"

Additionally, Trump pardoned Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who was to go on trial for murder charges next year, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murdering a wounded ISIS prisoner but convicted of taking an unauthorized photo with the corpse.

Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth first announced on Nov. 4 that the president was expected to intervene in the Lorance case was well as exonerate Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who has been charged with murder after he admitted to killing an unarmed Afghan man whom he believed was a Taliban bomb maker, and restore Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's rank to E-7.

For the past week, members of Lorance's family and his legal team have been holding a constant vigil in Kansas anticipating his release, said Lorance's attorney Don Brown.

Now that he has been exonerated of committing a war crime, Lorance wants to return to active duty, Brown told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

"He loves the Army," Brown said prior to the president's announcement. "He doesn't have any animosity. He's hoping that his case – and even his time at Leavenworth – can be used for good to deal with some issues regarding rules of engagement on a permanent basis so that our warfighters are better protected, so that we have stronger presumptions favoring warfighters and they aren't treated like criminals on the South Side of Chicago."

In the Starz documentary "Leavenworth," Lorance's platoon members discuss the series of events that took place on July 2, 2012, when the two Afghan men were killed during a patrol in Kandahar province.They claim that Lorance ordered one of his soldiers to fire at three Afghan men riding a motorcycle. The three men got off their motorcycle and started walking toward Afghan troops, who ordered them to return to their motorcycle.

At that point, Lorance ordered the turret gunner on a nearby Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to shoot the three men, according to the documentary. That order was initially ignored, but the turret gunner eventually opened fire with his M-240, killing two of the men.

But Lorance told the documentary makers that his former soldiers' account of what happened was "ill-informed."

"From my experience of what actually went down, when my guy fired at it, and it kept coming, that signified hostile intent, because he didn't stop immediately," Lorance said in the documentary's second episode.

Brown argues that not only is Lorance innocent of murder, he should never have been prosecuted in the first case.

"He made a call and when you look at the evidence itself, the call was made within a matter of seconds," Brown said "He would make that call again."

The new Call of Duty Modern Warfare takes gaming to a new level. In fact, it's the best damn video game of 2019 (in my humble opinion).

You can watch video of the awesome gameplay for CoD above, and make sure to follow the Task & Purpose team on Twitch here.

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