JFK library releases last 45 hours of Oval Office tapes

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston announced Tuesday that it has declassified and made available to the public the last 45 hours of tapes from the slain president's administration.

During the JFK government more than 248 hours of conversations and meetings of the president and 12 hours of telephone conversations were recorded using the Dictabelt system.

"The Library has been systematically reviewing and opening these secretly recorded tapes since 1993. We are thrilled to have completed the process and know researchers will be fascinated with these recordings from John F. Kennedy's final days as president," the library's director, Tom Putnam, said in a statement.

The tapes cover a wide range of topics, events and historic moments such as the Vietnam War, the 1964 presidential campaign, a discussion with then-Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, and his children's visits to the Oval Office.

During a Sep 10, 1963, meeting about the Vietnam conflict, Kennedy expressed his frustration with the contradictory reports given him by his military and diplomatic advisors and asked them to explain why their accounts were so at odds with one other.
"You both went to the same country?," he asked.

Another tape shows a Kennedy concerned about his image and his re-election prospects.
"But what is it that we can make them decide that they want to vote for us, Democrats and Kennedy," he said in one discussion. "What is it we have to sell them?"

The last recording was Nov 20, 1963, in which Kennedy is heard talking about his plans for the following week. Two days later he was assassinated in Dallas.

"Although on the one hand releasing the final recordings is a bittersweet milestone, on the other, we hope that the public will appreciate having the opportunity to hear these important discussions firsthand," said archivist Maura Porter, who has been overseeing the Library's declassification of the White House recordings.

"The presidential recordings are an historical treasure for those interested in truly feeling like a participant during Oval Office discussions from this time period. No other avenue can present the facts quite like listening to the players themselves," she said.

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