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National Archives releases more JFK documents: Includes FBI surveillance of MLK


More secret government documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have been released by The National Archives.

In the third public release this year, the National Archives today posted 676 records subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act).

Last week, President Donald Trump ordered all remaining records governed by section 5 of the JFK Act be released to the public.  The President also directed agencies to complete another review of their proposed redactions and only redact information in the rarest of circumstances.  The release by the National Archives today represents the first in a series of rolling releases pursuant to the President’s memorandum based on prior reviews done by agencies.  The records included in this public release have not been reviewed by NARA.

The National Archives anticipates several additional public releases making all remaining records governed by section 5 available to the public as expeditiously as possible in accordance with the President’s order.  Each of these approximately 29,000 records, along with each of the records released today, remain subject to further review under that process.

The majority of the public release today consists of 553 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records that were previously denied in their entirety.  Also included in the release are records from components of the Departments of Justice (18) and Defense (48), the House Select Committee on Assassinations (56), and the National Archives (1).  Released records are available for download.

The National Archives released 2,891 documents on Oct. 26 and 3,810 records on July 24.

The National Archives established the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection in November 1992, and it consists of approximately five million pages of records. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without any restrictions since the late 1990s.

Here are some of the more interesting finds in the latest document release:

1. On Sept. 27, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald called the Soviet embassy in search of a visa to visit Odessa, according to the files. Eventually, the Soviet Embassy says they have received no answer from Washington, and such a request will take four to five months. Oswald says he belongs to a pro-Cuban organization and can't get a Cuban visa without first getting a Russian visa. The next day, Sept. 28, 1963, Oswald calls the Soviet embassy to ask for news from Washington.

2. The Pentagon received a letter from a Betty Joe Dodge of Lubbock, Texas, in September 1978. The letter, addressed to General Westmoreland, noted that an ex-Green Baret named Robert H. Doty had stayed in Dodge's home that summer while he worked as a roofer. On the evening the assassination news was reported, he seemed uneasy, Dodge said. When Dodge asked what difference it made, Doty told her, "I'm the man."

"I was afraid to ask any questions," Dodge wrote. "I could never tell whether he was testing my reaction to a wild statement or actually telling me the truth."

3. One U.S. official, Thomas B. Casasin, recalls that he thought Oswald's behavior struck him as "odd" and "unusual" after reading a dispatch on him following Oswald's return to the United States from the USSR. The official told his subordinates something along the lines of, "Don't push too hard to get the information we need, because this individual looks odd." The official remembers being particularly interested in what Oswald could provide on the Minsk factory where he had been employed.

4. The newly released batch of documents about John F. Kennedy's assassination included a secret FBI analysis that portrayed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in a harshly negative light. The 20-page FBI analysis of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. dated March 12, 1968 — a month before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

The FBI's surveillance of King is already well-known and includes several pages about his sexual life. One document said a black minister who attended a workshop to train ministers in February 1968 in Miami "expressed his disgust with the behind-the-scene drinking, fornication and homosexuality that went on at the conference."

"Throughout the ensuing years and until this date, King has continued to carry on his sexual aberrations secretly while holding himself out to public view as a moral leader of religious conviction," the FBI report said.

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