Bounties, Assassins, and Communism: The Untold Secrecy of the JFK Files

Kyleigh Magee, Writer


On October 26, 2017, the Trump administration released over 2,500 previously top-secret government documents about the mysterious assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and just last Friday, an additional 676 previously classified documents relating to the JFK assassinations were open to the public. President Trump’s political advisor and known conspiracy theorist, Roger Stone, had advocated for the release of these documents for quite some time, and even wrote The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, a book arguing that Lyndon B. Johnson, vice president during the Kennedy administration, had orchestrated the assassination of JFK. Though many of the once-classified documents were about the assassination of President Kennedy, many were also related to FBI and CIA affairs and investigations at the time.

From the documents the White House released during October and November, several ugly truths have arose, but only to met with more questions. For example, the CIA had carefully planned arrangements to kill former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro. Some methods of assassination included outlandish tactics, including stuffing explosives into a seashell, planting tuberculosis bacteria in the oxygen tank of Castro’s diving gear, or to make the American lawyer, James B. Donovan give Castro a diving suit which was infected with fungi that causes the chronic skin disease, madera foot. Some methods included simply placing bounties on three key Cuban leaders and officials, Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Anyone who managed to assassinate Fidel Castro would be given $100,000, and anyone who managed to assassinate Raúl Castro or  Ernesto “Che” Guevara would be given $200,000.

Other documents prove to be even more disturbing, such as the newly released files regarding Martin Luther King Jr, which include extreme allegations against the civil rights activist. The documents, dated 23 days before Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, included efforts to paint King as a Communist, in the thick of the Communist Red Scare. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover led an intense investigation into King and his private affairs to link him in any way to any form of communism at all. The FBI, in these files called King  “a whole-hearted Marxist who has studied it (Marxism), believes in it and agrees with it, but because of his being a minister of religion, does not dare to espouse it publicly,” and the FBI even sent King a letter encouraging him to commit suicide. In the letter, an ominous message was written, saying “there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days.”

Though most files contained things of the disconcerting and perplexing nature, some did provide more information about President Kennedy’s assassination in Dealey Plaza. Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko, a Russian official who reviewed and assessed Lee Harvey Oswald’s application for citizenship in the Soviet Union, stated that Oswald attempted suicide via “slashing his wrists.” Because of the very fact, the KGB wanted nothing to do with the man, and his attempt to defect to the Soviet Union ultimately failed.

However, the most bizarre document of all may be a 1975 deposition relating to Richard Helms. After David Belin directly asks if there contained “any information involved with the assassination of President Kennedy which in any way shows that Lee Harvey Oswald was in some way a CIA agent or agent,” the document is cut off, and the answer to that question still us unknown to this day, as is many of the secrets that died with President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.