Conspiracy theories such as JFK distract from the real threats we face | Jonathan Freedland

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When imagined plots lead to the bereaved and wounded receiving online hate, they are no longer harmless eccentricity but a dangerous diversion

Ruefully, and rightly as it turned out, one lifelong investigator of the Kennedy assassination predicted that there “won’t be any smoking gun” in the cache of nearly 3,000 JFK-related documents released late on Thursday night. It was a suitably ironic choice of phrase by Jefferson Morley, the editor of the JFKfacts website. Because this, of course, is a rare case where there was very much both smoke and a gun, in the form of the 6.5mm Carcano rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot John F Kennedy on 22 November 1963. It’s just not the smoking gun Morley’s readers were looking for, the one that would prove a vast, hidden conspiracy to murder the 35th president of the United States.

There were plenty of juicy titbits in the papers all the same. Conspiracy theorists will seize on the CIA memo that reports that Oswald, while in Mexico in September 1963, spoke to a Russian diplomat identified as a KGB officer and member of Department 13, a unit “responsible for sabotage and assassination”. Others will delight in the ambiguous words of the FBI director, J Edgar Hoover, who two days after the killing wrote of the urgent need to “convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin”. My personal favourite is the mysterious phone call to a British local paper – the Cambridge Evening News – 25 minutes before the shot rang out in Dallas, instructing a reporter to call the US embassy in London to hear “some big news”.

Related: The Guardian view on conspiracy theories: convenient fictions | Editorial

Related: JFK files reveal FBI warning on Oswald and Soviets’ missile fears

Related: The best books about the JFK assassination, from Norman Mailer to Don DeLillo

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Link : Conspiracy theories such as JFK distract from the real threats we face | Jonathan Freedland


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