Will New JFK Files Finally End Assassination Conspiracy Theories?

JFK assassination JFK files released
A man in Harlem reads the latest edition of the New York Post on the evening of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. I.C. Rapoport/Getty Images

Handsome and charismatic, America's 35th president, John F. Kennedy, was making history: from his handling of the Cuban missile crisis and his visit to Berlin to his often contentious relationship with civil rights leaders. Tragically, though, his presidency was cut short by an assassin in Dallas in 1963, a murder that rocked the entire nation.

Ever since, Kennedy's assassination has been the focus of many conspiracy theories, and recently, the U.S. government finally declassified more than 10,000 documents relating to the investigation. What do they divulge? Stuff They Don't Want You To Know's Matt Frederick, Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown discuss what's new, what's still conspiracy and everything in between in this episode of the podcast: Secrets Revealed? JFK in 2017.


On Nov. 22, 1963, three shots were fired on John F. Kennedy's motorcade as it drove slowly through Dealey Plaza, striking the president twice and then-Texas Gov. John Connally once. Thirty minutes later, Kennedy was declared dead, and the entire country plunged into grief and devastation. Only a few hours after the fatal shots were fired, Lee Harvey Oswald, an ex-Marine, was arrested in a movie theater where he fled after shooting Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit.

By 7 o'clock that evening, Oswald was arraigned for officer Tippit's murder, and by the following day, he was arraigned for the assassination of the president. Then, shocking the nation anew, Oswald was shot and killed Nov. 24 by mobster Jack Ruby on live television while being transferred from the Dallas city jail to the county jail, sparking countless conspiracy theories, hardboiled noir novels and biopics about who did what, why and when. Fingers have been pointed at the mafia, Fidel Castro, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and the CIA. And of course Oswald himself was posthumously put under the microscope as well.

The Warren Commission officially declared that Oswald alone fired the fatal shots from the Texas Book Depository, but theories of a second shooter on the infamous grassy knoll, and a mass government or organized crime conspiracy continued to gain strength. So in 1992, Congress enacted a law mandating all assassination-related material related to JFK be released publicly to the National Archives and available for research by Oct. 26, 2017, to dispel the conspiracy theories for good.

Although the FBI and CIA successfully managed to keep some of the most sensitive records classified, most of the 5 million pages are now available, and avid researchers are sifting through the mass of information. But are there any shocking revelations in these piles of papers, records, photos and artifacts?

So far documents have confirmed theories that the CIA planned to hire a mobster to assassinate Castro, and that there was an "Operation Mongoose," designed to sabotage plane parts in Cuba. The files also reveal that the FBI received a death threat against Lee Harvey Oswald the day before his murder, and that Oswald communicated with a Russian KGB agent before Kennedy's assassination.

In the sheaves of records, notes, memos and testimonies, the story of this administration and assassination could grow clearer — or murkier than ever. Was Oswald a secret Russian agent? Was there another gunman on that grassy knoll? Get ready as Matt, Ben and Noel dig through the mounds of material, discuss what the new files reveal — and what they don't — and potentially put to bed one of the biggest conspiracy theories of the century. Listen in to hear what they discover.