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Shopping for the Smoking Gun : Yet more J.F.K. files reveal little more than more of the same

August 31, 1993

The National Archives last week made public 800,000 pages of documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the big news since then is that there has been no news resulting from this long-awaited event.

None of the scores of researchers, journalists or conspiracy theory-spinners who have been poring over the papers has given a shout of discovery to signal that some nugget of information might have turned up that contradicts the long-known essential facts about the murder. No one looking at the newly released material has even offered a credible implication that might cast doubt on the central conclusion of the Warren Commission Report: that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed the 35th President on Nov. 22, 1963.

It would be not only surprising but absolutely scandalous if any such contrary evidence did emerge. For that could be seen as supporting the usually fantastic and often incoherent allegations of conspiracy-mongers that key officials and agencies of the U.S. government began conniving with the Mafia or whatever even before the fatal day to cover up the truth about the assassination. To believe this is to believe in a plot of Gargantuan dimensions, one that would have required the participation of hundreds if not thousands of people. Could such a vast criminal conspiracy be concocted and successfully carried out in real life? More to the point, could it remain leakproof for three decades, or even three days?

Those who believe in conspiracies related to the Kennedy assassination will go on believing, no matter how compelling the evidence to the contrary. Is this to suggest that there is nothing more to be learned about the murder and what followed? Not at all. The opening of the archives--this was the cream, involving CIA and FBI files on Oswald, but there is more to come--may well add details or clarify certain points that have been ambiguous up to now. But the truth about the most important point of all--that Oswald was solely responsible for the assassination, that there was no monstrous conspiracy--is unlikely ever to be disproved.

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