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Sunday 20 January 2019

Trump, truth and theories about JFK

David Brunnstrom

Generations of conspiracy theorists have spent decades steeped in the details of the JFK assassination. In coming days, they'll be able to pore through thousands more files kept classified for 54 years.

Yesterday morning, US president Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he will authorise release of the remaining documents.

"Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened," he tweeted.

Those who are sure that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone are eager for vindication and new jigsaw pieces to fill the void spots in the puzzle.

So are those who blame the mob, Fidel Castro, the Soviets or the military-industrial complex.

Lost on neither camp is the fact that the authority to decide which secrets to keep sealed for another decade or more rests with a president known for indulging conspiracy theories.

The deadline is October 26 - a date set by US Congress a quarter-century ago after Oliver Stone's conspiracy-minded JFK movie reignited demands to open the files on John F Kennedy's murder in Dallas on November 22, 1963. By coincidence, Trump plans to be in Dallas for a campaign fundraiser on Wednesday - the day before the deadline.

Anyone who expects to see a holy grail - a document that spells out exactly what happened to America's 35th president, who did it and who could have stopped it - will probably be disappointed.

The wording of Trump's announcement yesterday left open the possibility of a last-ditch push by the CIA or another agency to block some material.

Still, said John Tunheim, who led the panel Congress created in 1992 to review and release the files, "Everything should come out... I can't believe we'd be compromising anything from the 1950s and 1960s."

His view: Oswald was the lone gunman, though he could have had help - and we may never know.

"I don't think there are big revelations," said Tunheim, now US district judge for Minnesota, adding that he's sure secrets have been kept too long.

He's not alone in seeing little hope for a major breakthrough. Still, researchers will remain nervous until the remaining cache is unsealed.

Sunday Independent

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