John F. Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963. Almost 30 years later, Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The Act mandated that all assassination-related material be housed in a single collection in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
President Kennedy was murdered at the height of the Cold War, just a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. While the mythology of a lost Camelot developed in the years since his death, the Kennedy era was marked by a variety of tensions and crises. The civil rights movement gathered momentum in the early 1960s and clashed with resistance, particularly in the South. Kennedy’s brother Robert, as Attorney General, launched an unprecedented war on organized crime. Cuba was the most intense foreign policy hotspot – Castro had come to power there during the Eisenhower era and plots to overthrow andassassinate him continued in the Kennedy era. Vietnam was a simmering problem that would only bloom into full-scale war during the Johnson presidency.
Within hours of Oswald‘s murder, federal authorities including the powerful FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover moved to close the case. Others pushed for a blue-ribbon commission. Assistant Attorney General Katzenbach wrote a revealing memo which stated “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.” The memo also noted the rumors of a Communist conspiracy based on Oswald’s sojourn in Russia, but also noted: “Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat–too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, etc.). The Dallas police have put out statements on the Communist conspiracy theory, and it was they who were in charge when he was shot and thus silenced