JFK Files: CHS students, staff reflect on release, withholding of JFK assassination papers


James Yin

A collection of books related to the assassination lie in the CHS library. Oberoi said she believes the JFK files were withheld for security reasons.

James Yin and

In 1992, a law was passed by the US government that mandated the release of the files on Oct. 26, 2017. However, on that day, president Donald Trump withheld many of the release of many of the papers, only releasing about 2800 files. Although 88% of the documents have been released to the public, according to the National Archives, both the new information and Trump’s withholding of the papers has caused much debate. Senior Simrat Oberoi, who was writing a paper about the JFK assassination, says that she was looking into the papers creating a definitive answer on certain uncertain points.

“I’m looking at the difference between the Warren Commission and another historian’s perspective on what actually went down. There’s a lot of inconsistencies in the evidence, and the papers that just released hopefully would have shed some light on those inconsistencies,” Oberoi said.

Despite what the potential of the papers’ revealing power, social studies teacher Gordon Copee said that the papers would not necessarily answer all of the questions that the public, or conspiracy theorists in particular, had in mind. Copee said that he expects the papers released so far were unlikely to mention the involvement of an international body or another political figure.

“I don’t think that the big questions that conspiracy theorists had were answered. If anyone wants to know if there was some sort of cover-up or was it Lee Harvey Oswald, or was it the Cubans, or the mafia, none of those questions were really answered,” Copee said.

Instead, he said that the files were meant to lay out the foundations of the investigation process during the time.

“I think what it really gave insight to was more or less, and it’s not as exciting, I suppose, but it gave more insight into how the FBI and CIA operated in that time period,” he said.

Oberoi said that the papers altogether might not answer questions definitively.

“This is one of the few cases where as more papers release, our doubt of what actually happened increases because we won’t ever truly know what happened because things have been tampered with and it happened so long ago that there is no way of truly knowing what actually went down,” Oberoi said. “I’m sure someone somewhere knows something but you can say that for anything.”

Both Oberoi and Copee said that they believe that the withholding of so many files was likely due to national security.

“(He withheld the papers) probably because of national security. I think that’s the reason why they withheld for the last 50 years,” Oberoi said. “And a lot of times when they don’t want to release papers, the information that they withhold could still be dangerous although I don’t see, since so much has happened in the last 50 years, how it would affect our country.”