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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Kennedy White House tapes offer new insight

By Bill Delaney/CNN

BOSTON (November 24) -- The Kennedy Library has released 37 hours of tape recordings of meetings, memos, phone calls and dictation of President John F. Kennedy, including four hours of tape long held by Kennedy secretary Evelyn Lincoln.

John F. Kennedy  

The disclosure marks the largest single release ever of Kennedy recordings and offers important new insights into the president's reaction to unraveling events in Vietnam not long before his death.

On one tape recorded November 4, 1963, Kennedy dictates a memo seeming to regret the assassination of South Vietnam's President Ngo Dinh Diem, following a coup Kennedy endorsed.

Only weeks before his own assassination Kennedy recorded, "I feel that we must bear a good deal of responsibility, in part beginning with our cable of early August, in which we suggested the coup, period. In my judgment that wire was badly drafted, comma, it should never have been sent on a Saturday."

The dictation continues until Kennedy was interrupted by his son John Kennedy Jr. Kennedy asks his son, "Why do the leaves fall? And why does the snow come on the ground? Why do the leaves turn green?"

Kennedy then returns to the memo, saying, "I was shocked by the death of Diem Ngo. I met Diem with Justice Douglas many years ago. He was a extraordinary character. While he became increasingly difficult in the last months, nevertheless over a 10-year period he held his country together."

The tapes offer insight, but no new conclusions about what might have occurred in Southeast Asia had Kennedy lived.


JFK Library Web site


JFK tapes (11-25-98)
Real: 28K | 56K, Windows Media: 28K | 56K


Wednesday, November 25, 1998

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