Watch CBS News

Dallas Waits With The World For Release Of JFK Documents

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) —Today the public might get to see thousands of long-secret government documents pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In 1992, Congress passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which directed the National Archives to collect information related to the assassination and release it within 25 years. The deadline is today. Only the president can hold some of those documents back.

Kennedy assassination papers
Historic front pages from U.S. newspapers are seen from the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the Newseum on September 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Newseum has put together the exhibit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas (credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump has been caught between students of the killing who want every scrap of information out on that crucible of history and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint.

Scholars and sleuths say the CIA is pushing Trump to keep some of the materials secret. Some say the documents generated in the 1990s, which could contain the names of people who are still alive, are of particular concern to those who want files held back.

CBS 11 News spoke with one of the detectives first on scene in Dallas 53 years ago. Former Dallas Police Department detective James "Jim" Leavelle said, "A lot of people are going to be disappointed I think. They think they're going to find a new suspect and all of this in those things and they're not going to find it, 'cause it's not there."

Leavelle was the first detective to interrogate Lee Harvey Oswald after he used an infantry rifle to shoot and kill President Kennedy as his motorcade drove by.

While America waits for the release, President Trump took to Twitter Wednesday saying, "The long activated release of the JFK files will take place tomorrow."

Whatever details and documents are released, they're not expected to answer the major question of whether anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in the assassination, including the government. The Warren Commission in 1964 reported that Oswald had been the lone gunman, and another congressional probe in 1979 found no evidence to support the theory that the CIA had been involved.

The gunshots that the Warren Commission said killed Kennedy almost immediately inspired theories about whether Oswald had been the lone gunman who, with extraordinary luck by any measure, had hit his target.

Leavelle was one of two detectives escorting Oswald through the basement of Dallas police headquarters when Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald  — forcing Americans to consider whether the government was hiding what it knew of the assassination.

Whatever documents are released, historians expect to comb it for an array of details, particularly on six days Oswald spent in Mexico City just before the assassination. Oswald said he was visiting the Cuban and Soviet Union embassies there to get visas, but much about his time there remains unknown.

Leavelle says his team of DPD investigators worked all of their leads and he believes they found out pretty much everything there was to know, so he isn't 'holding his breath' for the document release. "To tell you the truth, I don't give it much thought at all because I know pretty much what's in all of them," he said.  "They're going to be surprised because they're not going to find no 'bloody knife' in there to help them out with their imagination."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.