JFK questions from middle school

Jackson is an eighth grader in New York state. He beginning a two-month research project JFK’s assassination, a subject he has learned something about from his father. He wrote to JFK Facts to say he is “intrigued by our nation’s tragedies and the controversies of his assassination” and had some questions.

Jackson’s questions …

… and my answers:

Q. How many documents do you believe the government still has, that they have not released?

The CIA has approximately 1,100 records that meet the legal definition of “assassination-related,” that have never been made public. Not all of these records are about the death of JFK but some of them are certainly relevant to understanding the JFK story. The CIA also has another 295 documents about the late George Joannides, a CIA officer who figured in the JFK story.

Q. Do you think the government will ever release more documents?

I do. The 1,100 documents are scheduled to be released in October 2017. I think the CIA will have no choice but to release them at that time.

3. What theory of JFK’s assassination do you most believe in? (Oswald was the lone killer, he was sent by the CIA, he was set up, etc.)

I don’t have a theory about the assassination. I prefer facts. When I get all the facts — when the 1,100 CIA documents are released — then we can begin testing the various theories. Until then, I would say the official story that one man alone killed President Kennedy for reasons known only to himself is not credible.

4. How many shots do you believe were fired?

More than three.

5. What was the impact of Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK, on America’s view of the assassination?

Within a week of the assassination, polls showed that about 60 percent of Americans believed more than one person was involved in Kennedy’s murder. That number dipped slightly when the Warren Commission’s report was published in September 1964 and then rose again. Polls taken before Stone’s movie was released in 1991 showed that about 2/3 of people believed there was a conspiracy. The popularity of the movie pushed that figure slightly higher. Polls show that Stone’s movie also increased suspicions that the CIA was involved. Stone’s movie did not create the majority’s belief in conspiracy. It expressed it.

6. How has JFK’s assassination affected the nation and how have the safety precautions been increased?

After JFK’s assassination and the publication of the Warren Report, Americans’ confidence in their government started to decline and it continued to decline for decades. This loss of faith was perhaps the most profound effect of JFK’s assassination. Security around the U.S. president has been tightened. Presidents make fewer public appearances and open-air presidential motorcades, once popular, are now rare.

7. If/when the government does release more documents, and reveals the truth, what reaction will there be and do you think it will impact people’s view of the government?

This is a great question Jackson. I think we don’t know the full story of what happened but when we do I don’t think it will be that surprising to most people. It will probably be most shocking to the minority of people who believe the official story.

8. What do you know of Prof. John McAdams of Marquette University and his views on this topic?

McAdams is a college professor who argues against a conspiratorial interpretation of JFK’s death. He is well informed but I think his arguments strain credulity.

Thank you for any information you can give me.

As part of your research I recommend looking at the website of the Mary Ferrell Foundation (maryferrell.org).

Good luck with your research.

4 comments

  1. Tim Gratz says:

    Very well put, Jeff.
    I agree with almost all you wrote, although my opinion counts for little. But I like your very conservative approach of looking for the facts before rushing to form theories.

    Great to see young people interested in the case.
    I hope there are many more like him.

    Tim Gratz

  2. John McAdams says:

    I just got a letter (snail mail) from Jackson. Seems he is seeking a variety of views, which is a good thing.

  3. leslie sharp says:

    John, I hope that you will respond responsibly, keeping in mind that the Kennedy assassination and cover up was a direct attack against the democracy Jackson appears to be seeking.

  4. John Kirsch says:

    The part of this post that really caught my eye was where Jeff writes, “More than three” in response to the question of how many shots he believes were fired.
    That obviously puts him at odds with the WC and, at least in my view, raises the possibility that he believes there was more than 1 shooter.
    The problem comes if you believe that Oswald was one of the shooters and, as Jeff said in a previous post, there are doubts about whether Oswald was actually in the so-called sniper’s window in the relevant period of time. (Please, WC fundamentalists, don’t trot out poor Howard Brennan.)
    That leads to the possibility that Oswald was not a shooter at all. The other possibility is that Oswald did indeed fire at least some of the shots (a remote possibility, I believe), and that some other person or persons fired the rest.

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