JFK Files Describe Mysterious Call 25 Minutes Before Assassination

Other new details include a seashell bomb plot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2017 3:42 AM CDT
Updated Oct 27, 2017 6:28 AM CDT
JFK Documents: Dallas Cops Knew About Threat to Oswald
In this Nov. 23, 1963, file photo, surrounded by detectives, Lee Harvey Oswald talks to the media as he is led down a corridor of the Dallas police station for another round of questioning.   (AP Photo)

A trove of thousands of previously classified documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy was released by President Trump Thursday evening, just in time to comply with the 25-year deadline a 1992 law put into place. Multiple news outlets have been poring over the 2,800 documents, which can be seen here. Plenty of fascinating information has been found, and a few new mysteries have arisen. But so far, no bombshells have surfaced to back up far-fetched conspiracy theories—like Trump's claim that Ted Cruz's father associated with Lee Harvey Oswald. Some of what has been uncovered:

  • Oswald death threat. A document from two days after the assassination states that the FBI received a death threat to Lee Harvey Oswald before he was shot, CNN reports. "There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead," said FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. He said "a man talking in a calm voice" had called the FBI's Dallas office saying he was part of a committee that planned to kill Oswald. Hoover said the chief of police had been notified and had promised to provide adequate protection, but "this was not done."
  • Early conspiracy worries. In the same memo, Hoover said he was already worried about conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination. "The thing I am concerned about ... is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin," he wrote.
  • A "neurotic maniac." A Dec. 1, 1963, memo from Hoover said Soviet leaders believed there was a conspiracy behind the shooting, possibly under the direction of right-wingers looking to take over or Lyndon Johnson. Oswald was thought by the Soviets to be a "neurotic maniac who was disloyal to his own country and everything else," the Guardian reports. The memo said the Soviets feared that without effective American leadership, an "irresponsible general" might launch a missile at the Soviet Union.

  • A mysterious phone call. An FBI memo from Nov. 26, 1963, states that the British newspaper Cambridge News received an anonymous call 25 minutes before Kennedy was shot telling them to call the American embassy for "big news," the BBC reports.
  • A CIA-Mafia plot. A 1975 memo says Attorney General Robert Kennedy told the FBI early in the Kennedy administration that the CIA had approached Sicilian-American mobster Sam Giancana "with a proposition of paying $150,000 to hire some gunman to go into Cuba and kill Castro." Kennedy complained that this made it tough to prosecute Giancana, and suggested the CIA talk to his department before attempting any more Mafia deals.
  • KGB assassination unit. A Nov. 23, 1963, CIA memo states that Oswald spoke to consul Valeriy Vladimirovich, identified as a member of a KGB assassination unit, when he visited Mexico city in Sept. 1963, the Guardian reports.

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  • A "booby-trap spectacular seashell." The Washington Post reports that the papers have revealed several other plots to kill Castro, including one that proposed killing the Cuban leader with an exploding seashell. It was abandoned after a seashell big enough and spectacular enough couldn't be found. Another plot involved having a high-ranking American official give Castro a present of a skindiving suit—with the inside dusted with a fungus that would cause a disabling skin disease and "tuberculosis bacilli in the breathing apparatus."
  • "Happy delight." According to a Nov. 27, 1963, CIA memo, the Cuban ambassador to Canada and his staff reacted with "happy delight" to the news of the assassination. But they realized they should adopt a "more somber attitude" in public after a speech from the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations, the memo states.
  • Tantalizing tidbits. In what the New York Times describes as one of many other "tantalizing tidbits" in the files, a CIA document suggest Oswald was accompanied on his September 1963 trip to Mexico City by "El Mexicano," believed to have been the captain of Cuban Rebel Army 57 before he defected to the US in 1959.
(More John F. Kennedy stories.)

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