As conspiracy theorists eagerly await what they hope will be a smoking gun in the Kennedy assassination upon Thursday’s release of declassified government information, one man with close ties to the investigation says it will likely be much ado about nothing.
Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump tweeted that the documents – including FBI and CIA reports detailing the controversial November 1963 murder – will finally be released to the public by the National Archives, via a congressional mandate.
Trump announced the development with his typical fervent flourish: “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as president, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” he wrote, further whetting the public’s insatiable appetite.
Still, veteran Israel journalist and former
Jerusalem Post defense correspondent Arieh O’Sullivan, whose father, Fred, was a classmate of Lee Harvey Oswald in Louisiana and went on to testify before the Warren Commission in 1964 as a detective in the New Orleans Police Department’s vice squad, said conspiracy theorists will likely be disappointed.
“My father and ‘Lee,’ as he always referred to him, grew up half a block away from each other in New Orleans and shared homerooms at school,” O’Sullivan said on Monday. “O’Sullivan next to Oswald.”
While they were not friends, according to O’Sullivan, his father’s ties to Oswald extended beyond the classroom, including a period during high school when he unsuccessfully attempted to recruit Oswald for the Civil Air Patrol.
The two men’s paths crossed again immediately after the assassination, when O’Sullivan contacted the FBI in an attempt to piece together a profile of the shadowy Oswald and later testified before the Warren Commission.
Although the elder O’Sullivan, who went on to become a police chief, said he was convinced Oswald pulled the trigger, his son said he long harbored theories about the events leading to the assassination.
“My father had some thoughts that the assassination was connected to New Orleans in some way, which was fertile ground for Mafioso activity,” he said. “That maybe he had some help.”
O’Sullivan added: “There was a conspiracy theory that maybe Oswald was flown to Dallas from New Orleans in somebody’s plane, but they went to check that out and found that the plane hadn’t been used.”
Alternately, O’Sullivan said his father suspected that Fidel Castro may have been involved in the assassination.
“He never had any proof, but he always suspected that in some way Cuba was involved in the assassination, because Kennedy tried have Castro assassinated,” he recalled. “Or that maybe Castro was using Oswald.”
Nonetheless, O’Sullivan said that although his father repeatedly assured him – and the Warren Commission – that Oswald indeed killed Kennedy, the information is unlikely to appease skeptics, who will always believe there were greater forces at play.
“Look, I think that the Kennedy assassination theories will go on forever,” he said.
“Even after all these documents are revealed, people are still going to say, ‘Well, we still don’t know everything.’” Ultimately, O’Sullivan suspects a few details about Oswald’s travels to Mexico immediately before the assassination may be revealed, but little more.
“What they haven’t released so far is just mainly things Lee Harvey Oswald did just prior to the assassination, so what I think is going to be released is that perhaps we will see that he had some kind of meeting with someone who actually said something that would indicate that maybe he was a gun for hire, or that someone took advantage of him,” he said.
“That maybe there was somebody else behind Oswald. I don’t think we’re going to find out that someone else killed Kennedy besides Oswald. I think most people agree that Oswald did it.”
And yet, O’Sullivan said he understands why the public remains fascinated by the case.
Indeed, a few weeks before his father died in 2006 – many years after embracing Zionism and moving his family to Israel, where he served as a police officer – O’Sullivan again asked his father who killed JFK, “as if he held the secret to the Holy Grail of America’s most puzzling enigma.”
“Just Lee,” his father assured him. “By himself.”