Nearly all JFK documents worthy of public scrutiny, Hall says
"Benjamin Franklin once said that it takes three people to keep a secret," said USU President Kermit Hall, raising his hand high above his head and holding up three of his fingers.
"And two of them have to be dead."
He lowered two of the three fingers that he had raised.
Hall was one of the five members appointed by President Bill Clinton to the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board (1995-1998). The board examined classified documents on the Kennedy killing of 1963 with an eye toward releasing as many as possible.
"Making this information available to the public has been the most important thing that I have done in my life," Hall told a crowd at the Eccles Conference Center on Wednesday.
When asked why those five were selected for the board, Hall said, with a sarcastic look, "We were distinguished Americans." Later he said, "I'm only kidding" and added that the members were selected for their specific scholarly expertise.
Hall served on the board for four years. During the board's investigation, it reviewed more than 6 million documents. Ninety-nine percent of those eventually were made available to the public. Six highly classified documents were appealed for disclosure by the intelligence community on grounds that they dealt with the procedures used in the protection of the president.
The board unanimously denied the intelligence community's appeals, and the documents were opened to the public.
One specific document that Hall spoke about was a "TOP SECRET" letter, the second most highly classified ranking of government documents. The letter was J. Lee Rankin, the general counsel for President Kennedy, from then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover said that a confidential source informed the FBI about a conversation that his source had with Fidel Castro.
The source said he, meaning Oswald, stormed into the embassy in Mexico, demanding a visa. When it was refused to him, he headed out saying, "I'm going to kill Kennedy for this."
Castro is alleged to have continued and asked, "What is your government doing to catch the other assassins?" And speculated, "It took about three people."
"This document was one of those six that were appealed," said hall.
Hall posed a question to the audience. First, How many believe the murder of President John F. Kennedy was part of a conspiracy? A majority of the audience held up their hands. Second, how many believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone killer? Three people raised their hands.
Many high school students believe in a conspiracy because of the movie JFK, "a great work of fiction," according to Hall.
Because of this movie, Congress established the review board in October 1992.
The lecture was very informal and President Hall also involved the audience as participants in the lecture. The lecture was part of USU's Library Week.