THERE IS SOMETHING perverse about the fact that President Donald Trump, the exuberant and all-too-successful spinner of conspiracy theories, and deeply ignorant of American history besides, will oversee the release of the remaining classified files related to the assassination of his presidential predecessor, John F. Kennedy.

In 1992, Congress approved, and former President George H.W. Bush signed, the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. They were prodded by an Oliver Stone film on the killing released the year prior and the resulting flurry of public interest. The act mandated the disclosure of all assassination-related records no later than 25 years after its signing, by October 26, 2017 — this Thursday.

While federal agencies can contest the release of the documents on the grounds of “identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations” that “outweighs the public interest in disclosure,” according to the act, the chief executive gets the final say in all such cases. In other words, much of what we can still hope to learn about the JFK assassination hinges on Trump.

The estimated 113,000 pages of material, presently with the National Archives, are known from metadata searches to contain extensive mentions of Cuba and the former Soviet Union. Two documents provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and published for the first time today further underline how closely the intelligence community has held information related to Cuba’s potential role in the killing, indicating that the NSA for decades has kept secret its efforts to monitor Cuban agents’ communications in the aftermath of the event.

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