John Kiriakou of Sputnik Radio's Loud & Clear spoke to Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a US congressman who has served continuously since 1994 and is typically seen as a moderate Republican with libertarian sympathies. He has championed transparency in government, particularly through the release of the remaining files on the assassination.
"I was a freshman in college when President Kennedy was assassinated," Jones told Kiriakou; the life of the president and his untimely death in Dallas had always fascinated the congressman.
"I feel that any information is owned by the people of America," he said.
Kiriakou asked the congressman what forces in the US government are opposed to the release of the remaining files.
"I think it's primarily the agencies such as the CIA," said Jones. "Fifty-four years later, if they are afraid of the truth, then maybe they ought not to be in the position they're in. The American people have a right to the truth. This is one of those tragedies, like Pearl Harbor, like 9/11 — and the assassination of John Kennedy changed the direction of this nation. Anybody that does not want the American people to know the truth, then they've got something to hide."
"There have been former officials of the CIA arguing that the president should still consider withholding some of this information because it may contain the names of CIA officers who are still alive, or who have left the agency and have returned as contractors," said Kiriakou.
"I think that's ridiculous," Jones replied. "Most of those people that you just described, I would imagine that they're in their 70s and 80s. Most of them are retired, most of them are in nursing homes. What difference does it make? If they were complicit at all in an assassination of a president, the American people must know the truth."
Jones added some praise for US President Donald Trump, who has declared his intent to release all remaining files to the public on Thursday. "This is about the people of America. I've said publicly that if Mr. Trump, the president of the United States, would do this for the American people, he would be a hero with the majority of people as it relates to the Kennedy assassination."
Kiriakou, a former CIA agent, said that with about 6 million pages of US government files on the assassination already released, a few thousand more probably wouldn't blow any minds. "When I was at the CIA, like any CIA analyst, sometimes [I would] bump up against some of these Kennedy documents still in their classified versions. I can tell you that 99 percent of what I saw really added nothing to the debate."
But on the other hand, there were still questions unanswered about the assassination, said Kiriakou. "I think that we probably need to know as a country, for example, what Lee Harvey Oswald was doing in Mexico City? What was Lee Harvey Oswald doing for two years in Minsk? Was there a relationship with the KGB? What was the FBI saying about Lee Harvey Oswald?"
Kiriakou inquired about the role of James Angleton, the "legendary" chief of CIA Counterintelligence from 1954 to 1975, who interviewed KGB defector Yuri Nosenko about alleged Soviet involvement in Kennedy's assassination. Nosenko claimed that Oswald lived for a time in the Soviet Union and had been monitored by the KGB in that time — a claim that was never verified.
"A former CIA boss of mine actually spent his first CIA tour working for Angleton," said Kiriakou. "He said that there was a file cabinet on the wall, and on his first day he was told, 'whatever you do, don't ever look in those files.' He often wondered: were those the Kennedy files? were those files on American citizens? He never knew."
Jones concurred. "I've always wondered how Lee Harvey Oswald was able to travel. You don't travel free of charge, it costs money to move around. Any information that will come out to explain if there were relationships [with outside actors] is critical to, and for, the American people."
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.