Fifty-four years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, there's only one certainty about the conspiracy theories over his death in Dallas: They're about to spiral even further out of control.
The unanswered questions and salacious theories of a government cover-up that have become Kennedy’s legacy were recently opened up to a younger—and more conspiracy-crazed—generation after President Donald Trump released thousands of once-classified FBI and CIA case files. It might be divine timing that the files finally emerged when the man who pushed the "birther" conspiracy theory is the president and InfoWars is a news source for millions.
The long-awaited files unveiled new dimensions of the investigation and touched on an astonishing array of American narratives, including gangsters used as hitmen, the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the sex life of Martin Luther King Jr. and the potential of Cubans or the Soviet Union being tied to the assassination.
But even with some new revelations, Americans might never get the full truth behind what happened to Kennedy on November 22, 1963, leaving those theories to keep lingering and growing.
"Each [document] I examined just further convinced me that this is a 10-million-piece jigsaw puzzle that we’re never going to solve,” Alice George, a historian who has written about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the JFK assassination, told Time. “Because of the way the documents have been released, they are entirely random, difficult to understand and totally without context.”
For the most part, the new documents pieced together some of the inner workers of the CIA and FBI at the time, but they didn't definitively debunk some of the more popular theories, including that the U.S. government was behind Kennedy's death.
That theory gained strength because Kennedy was against invading Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro in what became known as the Bay of Pigs, which failed. Believers in the theory think Oswald was told to assassinate Kennedy to get the president out of the picture so the U.S. could eliminate Castro.
The documents released by the CIA detail the extremes the agency went to in trying to assassinate Castro, such as using an exploding cigar, which to some only furthered questions about the government's role in the president's death.
The same goes for theories that the CIA worked with the Mafia and gangsters to have Kennedy assassinated. The documents released further show that the CIA had worked with members of the mob to kill Castro.
Some conspiracy theorists believe the CIA and mob members worked with an anti-Castro group to kill the president—all in hopes it would lead the U.S. in helping overthrow the communist leader.
To top it all off, Oswald was killed shortly after being arrested. The man who killed him, Jack Ruby, was a nightclub owner who had ties to organized crime.
Oswald's death set off immediate speculation that Ruby wanted to silence him to prevent the truth being revealed—but the CIA has tried to quash that theory.
The Warren Commission report from 1964 concluded there wasn't a conspiracy and neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger plot to kill Kennedy. That conflicted with a 1979 report from the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which said Kennedy was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy" that may have involved multiple gunmen.
There are still more records set to be released in Kennedy's death, including some that Trump withdrew at the last minute after intelligence agencies worried about sensitive information finally being revealed. It's unclear when those will arrive. But the bigger mystery is whether they'll contain a single smoking gun that helps clear up what happened 54 years ago.
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