Trump should have been more respectful when releasing the JFK files


Abbie Rowe, via JFK library, public domain.

Honor Guard carries JFK to his grave at Arlington National Cemetery

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard the latest hype in our media-obsessed government: the release of the JFK assassination files. While this may be exciting, the release was not handled respectfully.

The JFK files are a set of documents created by the FBI, CIA, and other agencies documenting the event of President Kennedy’s death. The records were reviewed by the Assassination Records Review board and were filed as official assassination records.

On November 22, 1963, former President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy were riding through Dallas, Texas in a convertible as part of a motorcade. During the drive, President Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald and later pronounced dead at nearby Parkland Hospital.

After the assassination of someone who was so powerful and influential, there have been conspiracy theories; people want answers, and they are interested in what the death files on JFK’s death have to say. In 1992, a law was passed to keep the Kennedy files blocked for a set amount of time. That time has passed, and President Trump released the files to the public.

The Kennedy family is not a stranger to the public eye. The family is full of politicians, public service workers, and philanthropists. Some prominent Kennedy family members today are Representative Joe Kennedy III, Maria Shriver, Jack Schlossberg, and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, who is the only surviving child of John F. Kennedy.

As we know, President Trump is no outsider to releasing information on Twitter. Through social media, he broadcasts a lot of things through the network and uses it as a way to handle his anger and frustration. He uses Twitter as a public diary so he can boast about his actions, and that’s what he did in this instance. He used Twitter to announce the release of the files in addition to giving his followers some updates on them.

Considering that the daughter of President Kennedy, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy is still alive, it would seem natural to contact her about the release. Ambassador Kennedy wasn’t contacted. To the public, President Kennedy is a figure of history, but to Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, he’s her father and her children’s grandfather. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy has lived with the death of her father most of her life; unlike most of us when thinking about President Kennedy, it’s not something she can just set aside and avoid. With something so heavy in topic, the respectful thing on President Trump’s part would’ve been to reach out to her and at least hear if she has any opinion on the topic rather than choosing for himself.

Considering that the daughter of President Kennedy, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy is still alive, it would seem natural to contact her about the release.

— Mia Rheineck

Although Ambassador Caroline Kennedy has not spoken out about the event, Rep. Joe Kennedy III has. “These are documents that have been behind closed doors for a long time,” said Rep. Kennedy. “I absolutely tend toward disclosure of government documents, that being said, it would have been nice if there was some communication between this administration and our family.” The Kennedys are still active in government; President Trump has access to them and contacting them wouldn’t be difficult.

If President Trump wanted to repeal this law, the House of Representatives and the Senate would both review the law and consider whether or not to repeal it. If repealed it would then go to the desk of the president. President Trump could’ve worked with Congress in conjunction with the family to push back the release day.

President Trump may be focused on his ego; if that’s the reason he couldn’t have taken time to reach out to a former first family, that is wrong. Imagine if President Kennedy was a relative of yours: would you really want hundreds of records from his death to be released without any communication or consent? Most would answer no; many would want to at least discuss an alternative option or be heard on how they feel. To be so inconsiderate with a topic that is so heavy is disrespectful.

Supposedly the point of this release was for “government transparency.” Grandson of President Kennedy, Jack Schlossberg, claims it was intended to distract. If indeed this was intended to divert, President Trump is using it to distract from his disruptive cabinet, from Russia, North Korea, and the Mueller Investigation. This release has nothing to do with education; this has to do with President Trump trying to save himself. If he was using a death to distract and verify the government’s actions, that’s disturbing.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III makes a good point about transparency; there is a time and place for it. Our government should be transparent when acceptable, but with this issue, there should be a level of respect and intelligence going into it. President Trump seems to believe he is the one who created the idea of releasing the files. As stated earlier there was a law created in 1992, stating that the dossier should be released at a later time. If President Trump believes he is the one behind all of this, he is lacking that respect and intelligence. He is disrespecting the Kennedy family, his political predecessors, and by using Twitter, he is disrespecting the formality and depth of the event.

The Kennedy family has served the public for decades, and they have given their respect and time to the American people. Whether it’s from the government or the citizens, the Kennedys do not deserve the treatment they received from the current administration.