President Donald Trump ordered the release of more than 2,800 records related to the John F. Kennedy assassination on Thursday, but bowed to pressure from the CIA, FBI and other agencies to delay disclosing some of the most sensitive documents for another six months. The thousands of pages that were published online by the National Archives describe decades of spies and surveillance, informants and assassination plots. Here’s a look at some tantalizing tidbits in newly released documents. You can read them all at archives.gov.
$100,000 to kill Fidel Castro: A 1964 FBI memo describes a meeting in which Cuban exiles tried to set a price on the heads of Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. “It was felt that the $150,000.00 to assassinate FIDEL CASTRO plus $5,000 expense money was too high,” the memo noted. At a subsequent meeting, they settled on more modest sums: $100,000 for Fidel, $20,000 for Raul and $20,000 for Che.
Or was Fidel only worth two cents? Another document describes the well-known CIA scheme called Operation Bounty that sought to overthrow Cuba’s government, and established a system of financial rewards for Cubans for “killing or delivering alive known Communists.” The CIA would let Cubans know of the plan by dropping leaflets in the air, but there were rules: A reward would be paid to an individual upon presentation of a leaflet, with “conclusive” proof of death and dead person’s party/revolutionary membership card. Cubans who played along would get a certain dollar amount based on the title of the Communist who they had killed. They’d get up to $100,000 for government officials and $57,500 for “department heads.” Castro, perhaps for symbolic reasons, would earn a Cuban only two cents.
Lyndon B. Johnson in the KKK? In an internal FBI report from May 1964, an informant told the FBI that the Ku Klux Klan said it “had documented proof that President Johnson was formerly a member of the Klan in Texas during the early days of his political career.” The “documented proof” was not provided.
And JFK’s real killer was? The records also reveal a deposition given before the presidential Commission on CIA Activities in 1975 by Richard Helms, who had served as the agency’s director. After a discussion of Vietnam, David Belin, an attorney for the commission, turned to whether the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s killing. “Well, now, the final area of my investigation relates to charges that the CIA was in some way conspiratorially involved with the assassination of President Kennedy. During the time of the Warren Commission, you were Deputy Director of Plans, is that correct?” Belin asked. After Helms replied that he was, Belin then asked: “Is there any information involved with the assassination of President Kennedy which in any way shows that Lee Harvey Oswald was in some way a CIA agent or an agent …” Then, abruptly, the document cuts off.