BOSTON (CBS) – The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 came at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
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There was fear that if those who investigated the murder of the president didn’t get it right, or the wrong party was blamed, it could set off a nuclear war with the Soviets.
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The problem is Americans never got a complete and accurate investigation and that sparked the conspiracy theories that have lived on for decades.
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“The government was overly secret about the early investigations. For every aspect of the assassination there continues to be a controversial view on everything that happened,” Tom Samoluk of Andover told WBZ-TV.
Samoluk has seen every shred of evidence related to the assassination. He was deputy director of the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990’s.
“I really am doubtful that the definitive word on who killed the President will ever be resolved.”
The most troubling aspect of the investigation?
The stakes were high and yet mistakes were made.
Dealey Plaza was never cordoned off or treated like a crime scene.
On scene witnesses were never interviewed.
“All these things lead to a complicating effort to investigate the death of a president,” he said.
Even Kennedy’s body wasn’t properly handled.
“The president is returned on Air Force One with Mrs. Kennedy and the autopsy is done at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and controversy ensues.”
One example, Samoluk said, is the wording of the autopsy. It was edited by a politician on the Warren Commission, altering the location of one of the president’s gunshot wounds.
The man who made that change?
Gerald Ford, who would later become president himself.
Then there’s the assassin’s story.
Does Samoluk believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone?
“I think the story is more complicated,” he said.
“I have the suspicion based on all the records we saw that this is a much more complicated story than Lee Harvey Oswald firing three shots at the president.”
Oswald was never convicted. He was shot in police custody by Jack Ruby on live television.
Samoluk said the board’s purpose wasn’t to find a killer or to answer the question of who killed the president.
His job was to release every document the government had kept secret for decades.
But it will never be enough.
“As for an official finding, the assassination has slipped into history and we won’t have complete closure,” he said.
“An injustice to the American public was done by not having a fully transparent investigation.”
Everything the Assassination Records Review Board looked at was released and can be seen by anyone at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
You can look at many of the records online here.
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