KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
The National Archives had a deadline yesterday. It was supposed to release all the remaining records from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. And it did post thousands of files online last night. People have been reading them for interesting tidbits of history. So far, though, they haven't found any big revelations about the murder. And now many historians are focused on the files the archives did not release. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Among the documents is a memo from then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover two days after the assassination. Hoover was concerned, he wrote, about how to convince the public that Lee Harvey Oswald was the, quote, "real assassin" of Kennedy after Oswald himself was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. There's the record of an anonymous someone who called a Cambridge, England, news service, urging a reporter to call the American Embassy in London for some big news and then hung up 25 minutes prior to Kennedy's assassination. Still, writer Philip Shenon says there were no bombshells for a good reason.
PHILIP SHENON: You have to keep in mind that the documents released on Thursday are mostly documents we've seen before.
NAYLOR: The National Archives put 2,891 records on its website yesterday pertaining to the assassination, but the Archives tells NPR just 53 of those are available for the first time. All the others had been previously released in a redacted format. Jefferson Morley, who edits the JFK Facts blog, calls it a small slice of what might have been released.
JEFFERSON MORLEY: President Trump really withheld most of the records yesterday. He released about 2,800 records. There's probably 25,000 records that remain secret.
NAYLOR: In announcing the release, the White House said it was withholding those documents that might harm national security, law enforcement or foreign affairs. Agencies have been ordered to review them with an eye on releasing as many as possible in six months. Still, Shenon says yesterday's release was important.
SHENON: It's useful in reminding the public that there really was a rush to judgment by the federal government after the assassination to identify Oswald as this pure lone wolf who never could have been stopped when in fact there seems to be a lot of evidence to show that both the CIA and the FBI knew about Oswald, were following Oswald and may have known much more about the threat he posed than they ever wanted to admit.
NAYLOR: One interesting document released yesterday, Morley says, was an interview of former CIA Director Richard Helms by David Belin, who was head of a commission investigating the CIA in the mid-'70s.
MORLEY: Belin asked Helms, was Lee Harvey Oswald an agent of the CIA, question mark. And that's the end of the document. We never get the answer. The fact that we didn't even get the answer to the question is just very emblematic of how limited the full disclosure was yesterday.
NAYLOR: President Trump tweeted today that in the end, there will be great transparency. And it is his hope to get just about everything to the public. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.
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