Now that President Trump has allowed The National Archives to publish 2,800 previously withheld documents regarding the JFK assassination are the days within the conspiracy theory culture numbered or will this release bring about a new zeal to the investigations? Either way, the American people will be able to view and judge what constitutes the need for government secrecy and what it felt was so significant that it deemed it necessary to lock it away from the publics eyes for over half a century.
Many Americans mock and vilify those in society that question the government’s explanation of such historically tragic events. So, there is always a real hope that these and other newly released JFK documents will finally put an end to the many conspiracy concerns? However, since there are some 30,000 documents still being withheld, the conspiracy theories, in all likelihood, will continue. But are these self-proclaimed investigators who seek additional information misguided, crazy or justified? And does the government bear some responsibility in actually helping to create these conspiracy theories when they keep essential information away from the public?
Just like the JFK tragedy before it, the events of 9/11 have fueled their own numerous conspiracy theories regarding who was behind the plot and how the buildings collapsed which has been the cause of some embarrassment to the government as well as anger by the victims’ family members. Looking at the similarities conspiracy theorists see with both of these tragedies could go a long way in understanding and answering the theories before they take off with a life of their own. For starters, outside of any real national security concerns, it seems to behoove the government to make every effort to converse with the American people before imposing a moratorium of fifty years on relevant documents. Taking a closer look at both the JFK assassination and the 9/11 tragedy, we can see that both of these events were ripe for all kinds of speculations in large part because of their impact on society, their magnitude and the shocking manner in which they were thrust upon the consciousness of the American people.
According to researchers, the comparisons of these two events go well beyond the fact that in both cases America was launched into a long and costly war. Both tragedies ushered in a new level of distrust for the United States government as well as creating a subculture demanding answers as to how such a catastrophe could have occurred in the first place.
Official documents provide answers while hidden documents create questions. Even back in 1963, the FBI and Secret Service had compiled a list of individuals who needed to be monitored and surveilled, and Oswald was one of them already having been placed on the FBI’s radar before the shooting. In fact, FBI Special Agent James Hosty was assigned to find Oswald and was in Dallas at the time of the assassination. On top of which there existed a strict protocol that the Secret Service created to protect the President during a motorcade. So Conspiracy Theorists try to wrap their heads around how the best protection any individual on the planet could hope for was defeated by an individual who was not seen as a good shot, possessed a $23 rusted, mail-ordered military surplus rifle whose scope was defective. In the same way, theorists try to make sense how NORAD, with its billion dollar budget equipped with the best fighter pilots in the world seated in the most advanced jet fighters, was defeated by box cutters in the hands of nineteen foreigners. Also, the hijackers were so unskilled as pilots that they couldn’t even fly a small Cessna let alone a sophisticated 767 commercial jetliner.
Is it reasonable for people to ask legitimate questions about a horrific event or does one automatically become unstable by doing so? When the government doesn’t explain how the nineteen hijackers performed flying maneuvers that many well-trained professional pilots admitted they couldn’t do, should Americans remain silent? And when there is no official explanation as to why sixteen Parkland Hospital doctors who saw first-hand the wounds to Kennedy’s head, do not agree with the official autopsy photographs shouldn’t questions be asked?
But can society blame conspiracy theorists for not trusting the official versions of what happened when there were seemingly simple means to answer all questions? For instance, 9/11 video evidence contained within the 85+ cameras surrounding the Pentagon, could quickly lay to rest the question as to exactly what hit the building. The Zapruder film, the best visible account of the JFK assassination, was hidden away from the public for 12 years. Is it any wonder that many experts now consider it a manipulated fraud? Besides, in both cases, there was never any chance for the public to learn about the killers either through interviews or using a trial since all perpetrators involved were either immediately killed or dead within hours of the event.
To compound the matter both the Warren Commission Report and the 9/11 Commission Report didn’t help to satisfy suspicious minds as both omitted credible testimony that ran counter to the conclusions reached in their final reports. In 1963, there was no internet or YouTube for people to review Kennedy’s fatal head wound which was shown to the public for the first time in 1975 by Geraldo Rivera on ABC’s Good Night America. Whereas with 9/11 Americans were able to scrutinize each incident nearly as fast as it occurred. In both cases, conspiracy theorists jumped on inconsistencies with the respective government conclusions and the visual evidence. In the case of Kennedy, it was the head movement going backward and to the left while the Warren Report stated that the fatal bullet came from behind. And as for 9/11, it was the video testimony of first responders who heard loud explosions and saw “rivers” of molten iron that the 9/11 report denied ever existed. Not to mention how the conspiracy theorist community rallied around the videos of World Trade Center building 7’s collapse that even the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) admitted fell symmetrically at freefall speed but added that it was due to office fires.
The release of the JFK documents offers the American people another chance to reflect on their positions regarding these and other similar tragic occurrences. They can ask themselves if conspiracy theorists are ridiculed because the concerns they bring up are laughable or because what they dig up is too frightening to confront or believe.
Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.