In the never-before-seen, top secret memo supposedly written on Nov. 12, 1963, the president ordered the CIA director to organize the agency's intelligence files relating to UFOs, and to debrief him on all "unknowns" by the following February. Ten days later, Kennedy was assassinated.
The newly surfaced document is bound to add fuel to the undying fire surrounding the president's death. But first things first: Is the document authentic? [Top 10 Conspiracy Theories]
'Something odd about it'
Lester, a paranormal researcher and author of the new book "A Celebration of Freedom: JFK and the New Frontier" (Wasteland Press, 2010), said he obtained the memo along with two others from the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act.
The top secret memo hasn't turned up anywhere else besides Lester's book, however, and some archivists question its authenticity. A research technician at the JFK Library in Boston, who asked not to be named, was unable to find a carbon copy of it in its presidential archive, which holds copies of all of JFK's letters.
"We did some research into the presidential papers to try to find any evidence of the Nov. 12, 1963 letter to the director of the CIA, John McCone," the technician told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site of SPACE.com. Despite the fact that JFK kept carbon copies of all his letters, even the classified ones, "in searching through the president's office files -- CIA, NASA and National Security files -- we could find no evidence of this memo or anything like it." [Ten Alien Encounters Debunked]
Furthermore, it doesn't look like other the top secret memos Kennedy wrote during his presidency.
"Something is a little odd about it," the technician said. "It is sanitized in very odd places: the director's name, the top heading of the document (which usually distinguishes which agency is generating it) and then the tiny "top secret" print at the top of letter. Top secret items are usually stamped in large dark ink on the letter."
Given that most historians believe the "burned memo" is a fake, however, the connection to the CIA's secret plot to assassinate JFK doesn't stick.
Alternatively, even if the burned memo is fake but the newly surfaced memo is real, there are several perfectly logical reasons why Kennedy might have written it. Lester believes the president was interested in UFO intelligence for three reasons.
First, Lester said, Kennedy was concerned that UFOs seen by the Soviets would be misinterpreted by them as being U.S. aircraft behaving provocatively. This may be what Kennedy implied when he (allegedly) wrote, "It is important that we make a distinction between known and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence gathering of their defense or space programs."
The second reason for Kennedy's inquiry could have been his obvious interest in space travel; at the time of his (alleged) writing, NASA was a new agency, Lester explained, and "the whole question of outer space and life in outer space was at the forefront of everybody's thinking." Third, there was a natural concern about UFOs at the time due to a spurt of incidents thought to be sightings.
In the 1960s, nearly everyone was interested in UFOs -- JFK, NASA, the CIA and citizens alike.
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