Nearly 54 years after President John F. Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963, the U.S. public is finally getting some access to the government files that have been kept under wraps. The classified records were scheduled to be made public by Oct. 26, under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
Through the act, President Donald Trump had the power to stop the release of the documents on the grounds that the release of the documents to the public could harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations. In the end, President Trump did block some of the files and only 2,891 documents from the archives were made public. Included in the files are some interesting anecdotes about conspiracy theories galore, Fidel Castro bounty, sex parties with Frank Sinatra, and a stripper named “Kitty.”
The files on the infamous assassination consist of 5 million pages of records, photographs, videos, and audio recordings. On Thursday, the never-before-seen documents were made available on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website. The Washington Post and the Mirror combed through the JFK records and found some of the more intriguing and tantalizing stories from the 2,800 files.
J. EDGAR HOOVER
There were many new revelations from the uncovered files, one of the more intriguing documents was a memo from J. Edgar Hoover, the first Director of the FBI who served the position from 1935 to 1972. The memo was issued on Nov. 24, 1963, the exact same day Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged JFK assassin. In the memo, Hoover seemed to be worried that the public would have to be compelled to believe that Oswald was a lone actor in the murder and not a much larger conspiracy.
“The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin,” Hoover wrote, referring to Nicholas Katzenbach, the deputy attorney general at the time. Hoover was insistent there wasn’t “any scintilla of evidence” of a conspiracy. “Oswald having been killed today after our warnings to the Dallas Police Department was inexcusable,” Hoover said in the memo. “It will allow, I am afraid, a lot of civil rights people to raise a lot of hell because he was handcuffed and had no weapon. There are bound to be some elements of our society who will holler their heads off that his civil rights were violated — which they were. There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead.”
Katzenbach replied to Hoover’s memo the next day where he said, “the public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.”
A note titled “Reaction of Soviet and Communist Party officials to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy” from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover from December 1, 1966, said the Soviets believed then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was the mastermind behind JFK’s assassination. A U.S. spy in Russia said the KGB was “in possession of data purporting to indicate Johnson was responsible for the assassination.” The Soviet Union took interest in the assassination because they thought that Kennedy’s murder would be blamed on them.
Soviet officials believed Kennedy’s murder was an assassination organized by many but carried out by one “neurotic maniac.” Hoover’s December 1, 1966, memo said this about the Russians, “They seemed convinced that the assassination was not the deed of one man, but that it arose out of a carefully planned campaign in which several people played a part. According to our source, Soviet officials claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald had no connection whatsoever with the Soviet Union. They described him as a neurotic maniac who was disloyal to his own country and everything else.”
There was an odd occurrence that happened minutes before JFK’s assassination. An alleged Soviet spy notified the British media that John F. Kennedy would be killed, 25 minutes before JFK was actually shot in Dallas. An anonymous call was made to the Cambridge News and the unnamed man instructed the press to “call the American Embassy in London for some big news…” Less than a half an hour later, Kennedy was fatally shot.
There are records of how the FBI made tireless efforts to identify and monitor suspected communists living in the United States. Those individuals included Hollywood elites, including screenwriter John Howard Lawson, suspected of being members of the Communist Party in California. Some of the records date back to 1945, including attempting to wiretap Lawson’s home, but the plan was foiled when a person was residing at the house. Other Hollywood figures ended up being blacklisted from the industry for their alleged Communist ties.
Two months before JFK’s assassination, Oswald was intercepted speaking to a KGB officer in “broken Russian.” The report from Nov. 23, 1963, said Lee Harvey Oswald was in Mexico City and contacted the Soviet Embassy in the Mexican capital. The alleged JFK shooter spoke in “broken Russian” with Consul Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov over the phone, which was reportedly intercepted by U.S. authorities. “This was learned when Oswald called the Soviet Embassy on 1 October, identifying himself by name and speaking broken Russian, stating the above and asking the guard who answered the phone whether there was ‘anything new concerning the telegram to Washington.’”
Sources identified Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit as JFK’s assassin and informed the FBI. One source said, “the president was actually assassinated by Dallas police officer Tippit”. Patrolman Tippit was shot dead by Oswald 45 minutes after JFK was killed. The informant’s note also stated that Tippit and possibly Oswald met in Jack Ruby’s strip club, the Carousel Club, a week before the assassination.
STRIPPERS AND SEX PARTIES
The FBI attempted to locate a stripper named “Kitty,” for her connection to Jack Ruby. The file states that while the FBI attempted to find Kitty, they talked to another stripper by the stage name of “Candy Cane,” who told them Kitty was an “associate” of Jack Ruby. FBI agents talked to Leon Cornman, a business agent with the American Guild of Variety Artists in New Orleans, who told them, “the only stripper he knew by the name of Kitty who worked in New Orleans was Kitty Raville.” But, “He advised [that] Raville committed suicide in New Orleans in August or September 1963.”
A “high-priced Hollywood call girl” was questioned about her “participation in sex parties” with the likes of John F. Kennedy, his brother-in-law Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra. Fred Otash, a well-known Los Angeles private investigator, interrogated the escort, whose name was allegedly Sue Young. “She told the agents that she was unaware of any indiscretions,” the memo from 1960 said.
CUBA AND FIDEL CASTRO
Parts of the JFK files, have nothing to do with Kennedy’s assassination and instead discuss assassinating Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro. An FBI memo from 1964 talks about offering financial rewards for “killing or delivering alive known Communists.” FBI agents allegedly met with Cuban exiles to determine a fair price for the bounty of Castro, his brother Raul, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
“It was felt that the $150,000.00 to assassinate Castro plus $5,000 expense money was too high,” the memo stated. The price was bargained down to $100,000 for Fidel, $20,000 for Raul, and $20,000 for Che. Another memo offered Cubans They up to $100,000 for government officials and $57,500 for “department heads.” However, the bounty of Fidel Castro’s head would only pay two cents, perhaps as a symbolic reason. There were also reports that the CIA also considered assassinating Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba and the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno.
Despite the animosity between the U.S. and Cuba, the Americans did not believe that Fidel Castro would attempt to kill President Kennedy. A draft report by the House Select Committee on Assassinations stated it was unlikely that Cuba would try to kill Kennedy in retaliation for CIA assassination attempts on Castro. “The Committee does not believe Castro would have assassinated President Kennedy, because such an act, if discovered, would have afforded the United States the excuse to destroy Cuba,” the draft states. “The risk would not have been worth it.”
The files have yet to address and explain why Oswald took a trip to Mexico City just weeks before killing JFK, a journey that many suspect he was meeting with Cuban and Russian spies. The files that are still unavailable to the public will undergo a 180-day review period.