Can Secret JFK Files Shed Light on a 1971 Suicide?

Diplomat Charles Thomas' family thinks so
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2018 8:59 AM CDT
Updated Apr 28, 2018 12:10 PM CDT
Can Secret JFK Files Shed Light on Diplomat's Suicide?
In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas.   (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File)

A long-dead diplomat's family has urged President Trump to release still-secret files on John F. Kennedy's assassination ahead of the deadline Trump set to do so, in hopes it changes the story of their father's suicide. After 18 years with the State Department, Charles Thomas saw it all come crashing down. The department's 1960s "up-or-out" policy meant one was promoted or "selected out," and Thomas found himself in the latter category. Two years later, in 1971, the 48-year-old shot himself in the head while his wife was downstairs. The Guardian reports that months later came a "terrible discovery": a portion of his personnel files had been misplaced and was the reason for him being erroneously "selected out." President Ford apologized, and the department's policy was changed. But the family thinks what happened with the files was no accident.

Their theory is that there was an intentional effort to see Thomas removed from the department due to what the Guardian calls his "persistent, unwelcome, and ultimately fruitless effort" to reopen the investigation into JFK's death. Thomas was stationed in Mexico in the mid-1960s and in 1965 learned more about Lee Harvey Oswald's 1963 visit to Mexico City. In one memo Thomas wrote that has been made public, he noted that what he had learned "threatened to ... damage the credibility of the Warren Report." Slate in 2013 noted that Thomas in 1969 sent a memo to the secretary of state beseeching him to look into the trip; six days later, Thomas was out. Many of the documents that remain classified hail from the CIA station in Mexico City, and Thomas' family thinks they could flesh out Thomas' theories. (JFK's intense back pain may have helped kill him.)

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