Read More: POLITICO Magazine
Later this month, the National Archives is set to release thousands of documents about John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It’s likely to fuel conspiracy theorists for years. The federal government’s long campaign to try to choke off rampant conspiracy theories about the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy is threatening to end this month in massive confusion, if not chaos. Within the next two weeks, the National Archives is legally obligated to release the last of thousands of secret documents from government files about the assassination, most of them from the CIA, FBI and the Justice Department. And there is every indication that the massive document dump—especially if any of it is blocked by President Donald Trump, the only person empowered under the law to stop the release of the files—will simply help fuel a new generation of conspiracy theories. Trump, no stranger to conspiracy theories, including totally unsubstantiated theories about a link between Ted Cruz’s father and JFK’s death, has not yet revealed his plans for the documents. His friend and political adviser Roger Stone, the Republican consultant who is the author of a book claiming that President Lyndon Johnson was the mastermind of the Kennedy assassination, said last week that he has been informed authoritatively that the CIA is urging Trump to delay the release of some of the JFK documents for another 25 years. “They must reflect badly on the CIA even though virtually everyone involved is long dead,” Stone said in a statement on his website. The CIA has not confirmed or denied reports that it has appealed to Trump to block the release of some of the files on grounds that the documents might still somehow endanger national security if made public. In a cryptic statement last week, the spy agency said only that it “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously unreleased CIA information.” As it stands now, the document release this month will be a logistical nightmare, with the public suddenly flooded with a huge online library of documents—tens of thousands in total—that will be, at first, mostly incomprehensible even to experienced students of the assassination. The National Archives, abandoning its plans to release the documents in batches over the course of several months, said this week that it will instead release everything at once—all on the same day—sometime between now and the deadline on October 26.