The fight between President-Elect Trump and the CIA over Russia’s alleged interference with the U.S. presidential election could have a major impact on what is set to happen in October 2017. That is the month when thousands of the CIA’s super-secret records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy are set to be finally released to the public, after more than a half-century of secrecy.
When the Warren Commission published its report on the assassination in 1964, it ordered that many of the records relating to the assassination be kept secret for 75 years.
Of course, that secrecy ruling never made any sense given the Commission’s official finding — that JFK had been assassinated by a lone nut. If it were really just a lone-nut assassination, why not order a release of everything relating to the case, especially since the supposed lone nut had himself been assassinated? And why 75 years of secrecy?
One thing if for certain, though: Both the military and the CIA steadfastly wanted secrecy, on grounds of “national security” of course. But what they have never been able to explain is why a lone-nut assassination would have “national security” implications.
Hardly anyone questioned the secrecy or challenged the motives behind the secrecy. Most people, especially those within the mainstream press, simply deferred to the national security establishment and its wish for decades of secrecy in the Kennedy assassination.
Then came Oliver Stone’s movie JFK in 1991, which posited that Kennedy had been assassinated by his enemies within the U.S. national-security establishment.
Suddenly, the decades of secrecy were seen in a different light. If what Stone posted was correct, then the 75 years of secrecy made sense. Keeping matters relating to the assassination secret would make it more difficult for people to arrive at the truth.
And by the time 75 years rolled around, all the malefactors would be dead and, presumably, hardly anyone would care anymore anyway.
At the end of JFK, Stone included a blurb about the fact that the national-security establishment was still keeping thousands of JFK-assassination-related records secret. The result was a massive public outcry against continued secrecy. That public outrage motivated Congress to enact the JFK Records Act in 1992, which mandated that the CIA and the military had to finally release their JFK-assassination records to the public.
To ensure compliance, the law called into existence the Assassination Records Review Board. While the JFK Records Act succeeded in getting thousands of JFK-related records released, someone slipped a provision into the law entitling federal agencies to continue keeping many of their assassination-related records secrets for another 25 years, until October 2017. At that point, the National Archives, where the still-secret records were deposited, would release the records to the public.
Think about that for a moment: Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. The JFK Records Act was enacted some 30 years later. Yet, there were still those within the bowels of the deep state who wanted — and got — another 25 years of secrecy — for what was purported to be nothing more than a lone-nut assassination.
An interesting and somewhat revealing aside: The Secret Service wasn’t happy about the JFK Records Act.
As Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the ARRB (and who is the author of FFF’s ebook by Douglas Horne and the presenter in FFF’s 5-part) video “Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence,”) details in his five-volume book , after the law was enacted and knowing that the law specifically prohibited federal agencies, including the Secret Service, from destroying JFK-related records, the Secret Service nonetheless knowing, deliberately, and intentionally destroyed its records relating to previous assassination plots against Kennedy, one of which was in Chicago and which bore remarkable similarities to the assassination in Dallas.
While the Secret Service was chastised by the ARRB for guaranteeing continued secrecy of its JFK assassination-related records through intentional destruction, that was the extent of any disciplinary action that was taken against the Secret Service.
There was another important and relevant provision that someone slipped into the JFK Records Act. Under the act, the CIA or any other federal agency can request the president to grant another extension of time for secrecy, on the ground of “national security.” If the president concludes that “national security” will be threatened by the release of the CIA’s still-secret JFK-assassination records, he has the authority to order a continuation of the secrecy.
If Hillary Clinton had been elected president, it is a virtual certainty that she would have granted any request that the CIA made for continued secrecy. In fact, she as much stated that during the campaign. When asked about the still-secret JFK records, she responded that she favored full disclosure subject to any national-security concerns. Well, “national security” just happens to be the excuse that the president would have to extend the secrecy.
Under the Trump presidency, it is not at all clear that Trump will exercise the same deference to the authority of the CIA that Clinton would undoubtedly have displayed. The fact that Trump and the CIA are now in a nasty dispute over the CIA’s claim that Russia helped Trump get elected by supposedly hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s email accounts makes it less likely that a CIA request for continued secrecy is going to be received with great enthusiasm by President Trump.
That effectively leaves the CIA one choice: to ask President Obama to grant the extension, knowing, however, that President Trump probably has the authority to rescind it. Will President Obama want to add to his “legacy” an order permitting continued CIA secrecy in the JFK assassination, knowing full well that increasing numbers of people now believe that the national security establishment orchestrated the assassination? Time will tell but my hunch is that in October 2017 the CIA will come to rue the day it picked a fight with Donald Trump.
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Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.