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What Did the CIA Really Know About the JFK Assassination?
The release of secret documents fuels the research passions of history buffs, scholars and conspiracy theorists
By Kristen Taynor, Content Editor, Special Contributor to the ProQuest Blog
More than 10,000 previously classified records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy were released to the public by the National Archive in mid-November – many of them said to be focused on the connection between the CIA and JFK’s accused killer, Lee Harvey Oswald.
For author and former Washington Post reporter Jeff Morley, the decades-long secrecy that has surrounded these documents raises suspicions. “To me, it’s almost self-evident the government is hiding something that’s highly embarrassing to them about all of this,” he told host Bob McKeown on CBC Television’s Fifth Estate.
Morley explained that the newly-released documents contradict the official “CIA cover story” that their interest in Oswald was “merely routine.” “Well, it wasn’t routine,” he said. “It was intensive and it was at a very high level.”
This is the fifth batch of confidential records tied to the Kennedy assassination released by the government this year. These highly-anticipated papers include letters, memos, diplomatic cables and more – archival primary sources that are invaluable to historians, political scientists, and other researchers.
These documents can be studied in conjunction with previously released documents and other government records, opening unexplored research pathways and new discoveries.
And with History Vault’s expertly curated, easily searched digitized collections of such documents, investigating alternative theories has never been easier.
Fodder for researchers and conspiracy theorists
Millions of items relating to the JFK assassination have already been released to the public, including text files and audiovisual materials. ProQuest's History Vault has three collections of textual documents available within two of its modules, totaling more than 70,000 pages.
The first module, "Vietnam War and American Foreign Policy, 1960-1975,” encompasses documents that do not relate directly to JFK's assassination. However, these materials were classified as "assassination records" because they chronicle U.S. policy with Cuba, one of the critical paths investigated in the aftermath of the assassination.
Another module, "American Politics and Society from Kennedy to Watergate," contains two collections dealing directly with the assassination. During 1975-76, the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities conducted exhaustive hearings and review of U.S. intelligence operations, specifically the FBI and CIA. As part of this examination, the Church Committee (named after its chairman, Democratic Senator Frank Church) investigated the role of intelligence agencies relating to the JFK assassination.
Part of these documents focus on the identification of possible connections among the assassination, its perpetrator, Lee Harvey Oswald, and CIA operations or U.S. plots to remove Cuban leader Fidel Castro from power. Another section of these materials takes these connections a step further with testimony that explores the possible links between JFK's assassination and secret plots against Castro.
Resources for further research
The National Archives has an entire website devoted to the JFK records with details on the process of releasing material to the public.
Learn more and sign up for free trials of ProQuest History Vault and other ProQuest resources.
Take a look at the brochures for more information on History Vault modules, American Politics and Society from Kennedy to Watergate and Vietnam War and American Foreign Policy, 1960-1975. Both brochures also detail other History Vault modules relating to U.S. domestic and international policy and conflicts.
ProQuest Legislative Insight has a legislative history of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 along with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Extension Act of 1994.
The JFK files: The murder of a president (2017). Toronto: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.