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The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: It “Outweighs” Public Interest

JFK assassination, John F. Kennedy news, Kennedy assassination, Trump latest, Donald Trump news, Trump news, US politics, US history, American news, America news

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May 02, 2018 20:25 EDT

Trump has refused to honor his promise to release the final archives relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

In objective terms, information has no weight. But as all citizens of the information age know — especially after the Cambridge Analytica scandal — nothing has more value than information. Describing that value as a function of weight makes sense metaphorically.

After nearly 55 years, the mystery of the JFK assassination still weighs heavily on US culture and represents a historical fault line in the trust people have in their democracy. In an article by the Associated Press, we learn that President Donald Trump has contradicted himself by refusing to honor his earlier promise in 2017 to release the final lot of archives concerning that event. Trump justifies his action by the fear of “potential harm to U.S. national security, law enforcement or foreign affairs.” He claims it is “of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.”

Here is today’s 3D definition:


A metaphor allowing a speaker to affirm, without evidence, the relative importance of one point of view as a pretext for making the decision to hide vital information from those who deserve to know it

Contextual note

The article informs us that “an undisclosed amount of material remains under wraps,” which sounds worrying until we learn that the CIA “has already released more than 99 percent of CIA information that was in the Kennedy assassination records collection.” But when we reflect that in today’s economy, the top 1% own half the world’s wealth, we may be justified in wondering about the untold riches contained within the unreleased 1% of the archives.

The latest batch, according to The Independent, contains information about matters not directly related to solving the mystery of who pulled which trigger (or how many triggers were pulled). We learn, for example, that the authorities put activists “associated with black and antiwar movements” on a watch list in 1967. If anything, this tends to confirm Naomi Klein’s thesis in The Shock Doctrine that national crises, if not always designed to justify new forms of overreach by authorities, at least facilitate measures that restrict freedom and justify new forms of repression.

We also learn that the new batch contains curious details such as “the government’s concerted efforts to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro, including by handing a Cuban asset a poison-tipped pen on the day of Mr Kennedy’s death.” It would appear from this that Trump’s fear of “potential harm” relates to the risk of revealing just how many mad and illegal initiatives the CIA and the FBI may have been routinely doing not just at the time but possibly even today.

Historical note

The evidence and testimony contradicting the substance and conclusions of the Warren Report that has accumulated since the JFK assassination is so massive that it dwarfs the 900 or so pages the commission produced. That even includes — for what it may be worth — E. Howard Hunt’s deathbed confession as a participant in what he calls a well-planned “the big event.”

The result of the massive but disparate research conducted by both serious forensic experts and mad conspiracy theorists points in a lot of different directions. The government and law enforcement have made no serious attempt to sift the wheat from the chaff and the media, over the years, have faithfully repeated the intelligence establishment’s contention that any other conclusion than that of the Warren Report can only be conspiracy theory.

As usual, everyone is invited to draw their own conclusion on the basis of partial evidence and even more partial (if not partisan) reporting in the media. But the very idea that people can draw their own conclusion and that it might be the right one turns the whole process into a meaningless lottery.

This BBC2 program from 1991 gives a good range of intelligent commentary from people either with a connection to Kennedy (Pierre Salinger) or significant members the press, the media and serious literature (D.M. Thomas). The consensus seems to be that conspiracy was likely and in any case cannot be excluded, but what it meant and who was involved cannot be definitively surmised from existing evidence.

We are left wondering what the unreleased archives may change or not change in such evaluations. One thing is clear: If there was a conspiracy, they have done a good job keeping the media and the public away from the truth.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Ladio Marismari /

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