Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald visited Mexico City seeking visas to travel to Cuba and the Soviet Union weeks before the slaying of President John F. Kennedy — information the CIA gave to President Lyndon Johnson three days after the fatal shooting in Dallas, according to newly declassified data.
The Washington Times reports
the travel plans were included in the 19,000 pages of presidential daily briefings from the 1960s — known as the President's Daily Brief and stamped "For the President's Eyes Only" on some pages — being made public. About a fifth of the content is still redacted to protect sources and methods.
The Times reports in a Nov. 25, 1963, briefing that Oswald, a former Marine who defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, visited both the Cuban and Soviet embassies on Sept. 28.
"He was trying, we are told, to arrange for visas so that he could travel to the USSR via Havana," the briefing reads.
Oswald returned to the United States Oct. 3, according to the briefing.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Oswald shot Kennedy with a sniper rifle as he rode in an open-air motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Charged with the assassination, Oswald claimed he was a scapegoat; two days afterward, he was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
The day of the assassination, the spy agency's briefing concluded a Soviet anti-missile paraded in Moscow appeared only designed for use in the atmosphere. In Japan, meanwhile, an election didn't change the balance of power. At least one page in the briefing remains classified.
The newly declassified briefings also included information to Kennedy — a day before the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis — that a new warhead launcher was spotted in Cuba.
"These are an incomparable window into how a president thinks," said William Inboden, who worked under President George W. Bush and now leads the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. "When we're reading these, it's a mirror image of what the president's concerns were."
The release of the briefs was made possible by a 2009 executive order from President Barack Obama stating all classified material will automatically undergo a declassification review and release after 25 years. The full collection of briefs from the Kennedy and Johnson era are posted on the CIA's website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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