Trump opening the vault: delving into the JFK files

Trump opening the vault: delving into the JFK files

October 2017. Trump opened the vault with JFK files, and researchers around the world began to sift through the documents. I wrote the following article for Eindhovens Dagblad, a newspaper in the Netherlands.

I wrote two books about the Kennedy assassination, and as a result, the topic became a regular conversation starter at parties. The most frequently asked question: when will all those documents finally be released? Now, the time has finally come. In 1992, a deadline was set by the Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, and it expired last Thursday. While the National Archives had already released millions of pages in dribs and drabs, it was now time for the last batch. Trump twice piqued curiosity on Twitter, and for many people around the world, including this resident of Helmond, the F5 key became the most popular on the keyboard that day.

It was already Friday in our time zone when everything went online. Well, almost everything. To be precise, 2891 new documents can now be viewed. About 300 more could follow at any moment, after careful final editing that involves crossing out names of still-living individuals with a black marker. Initially, they had planned to reveal them in April, but Trump is determined to provide complete openness and transparency quickly, as we read on Twitter Saturday night. The number of pages to read within those 2891 files is enormous, and there are already juicy and somewhat spectacular discoveries. Will we find something indicating that the shooter Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a conspiracy? Something about the clandestine activities of the CIA and the questionable work of the FBI?

Some highlights: It took less than 24 hours for the CIA headquarters to learn about Oswald’s notorious visit to the Russian embassy in Mexico City at the end of September 1963. Two months later, after the murder, the intelligence agency would claim not to know Oswald. The FBI, from which I still hope to find information about their deliberate undermining of the murder investigation, was already dealing with Oswald in August 1963 – more on that in the released memos. Furthermore, two days after Kennedy, his alleged assassin was also killed. The FBI office in Dallas had received a report about that specific threat on the intervening day, it appears. More than ever, I think: how poorly protected was 24-year-old Oswald in his final hours? Jack Ruby could easily eliminate him in front of journalists and the American television audience. There’s also information about Ruby in the files on

Breaking news: Kennedy was shot, and on the same day, the British intelligence service MI-5 informed the CIA that the Cambridge News had received an anonymous tip 25 minutes before the murder about a world-shaking act that was about to occur. That is certainly worth further investigation.

There’s much more: notable details about the Cold War, conflicts between the CIA and the FBI, American plans to assassinate Castro, where the CIA and the mafia collaborated extensively – the latter we already knew. A statement from high-ranking Russians who were certain that Lee Harvey Oswald was used as a puppet by the extreme right. Kennedy’s promiscuous sex life. Hours pass, and it becomes increasingly clear which themes dominate in these new pieces. What I still hope to read while browsing through the PDF documents? About individuals within the CIA with sinister intentions, about Oswald’s acquaintances secretly working for the CIA, about CIA offices that communicated poorly with each other (could the murder have been prevented?), about testimonies that advocate for Oswald and were ignored by the government commission of 1964, and finally, particularly about the relatively unknown Rotterdam episode, Oswald’s mysterious night in our port city, June 1962. To work.

Photo below: talking about the released JFK Files on a tv show in The Netherlands: RTL Late Night with host Humberto Tan. October 26, 2017.

Perry Vermeulen

Author of two books related to the assassination of JFK, published in The Netherlands in 2008 and 2012. Wrote a lot about this subject; built this website in 2023 to accommodate all those different stories. I will continue to produce new articles on the case.

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