The Controversy Surrounding RFK Autopsy Photos at the National Archives
The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, the younger brother of John F. Kennedy, still remains one of the most devastating events in the history of the United States. RFK was assassinated on June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. His supporters were stunned and confused, and many of them searched for answers to the horrific event that had taken place before their eyes. As the nation mourned RFK’s death, his autopsy photos were taken, which are now kept at the National Archives in Maryland. However, the release of these photos, even years later, remains highly controversial.
The controversy began in the early 1990s, when researcher and author Robert J. Groden obtained a copy of the official RFK autopsy report. According to Groden, the report presents significant inconsistencies and outright contradictions, suggesting the possibility of a broader conspiracy behind the assassination. For years, Groden attempted to gain access to the autopsy photos in question, but he was met with resistance from the Justice Department, which claimed that the photos were evidence in an ongoing investigation, and could not be released.
For nearly two decades, the release of the photos remained a contentious issue in Washington. However, in 2013, the Kennedy family themselves joined the chorus of voices calling for the release of the photos. RFK’s son, Robert Kennedy Jr., appeared before a Senate committee, urging the government to release the autopsy photos. “The continued secrecy surrounding these basic facts of my father’s assassination has been a source of great pain and anguish for me and my family,” he stated. “Only when these facts are made public will my father’s murder be fully solved and justice served.”
Despite the Kennedy family’s request, the Justice Department was still reluctant to release the photos. However, following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a federal judge ordered the archives to release the pictures in November 2018.
The release of the photos was met with mixed reactions. While some saw it as a significant step towards uncovering the truth behind RFK’s assassination, others believed that the release of the photos could be a violation of the family’s privacy.
Some forensic experts have also weighed in on the controversy, claiming that the autopsy photos themselves may not provide definitive answers about the assassination. Many have pointed out the fact that the photos were taken hours after RFK’s death, meaning that they may not accurately capture the circumstances surrounding his death. Moreover, some have suggested that the autopsy report, rather than the photos themselves, may be a more reliable source of information about the killing.
Others believe that the release of the photos could be an important step towards closing the book on the assassination once and for all. They believe that the photos, even if they only offer a partial and disputed view of the assassination, could help historians piece together the events of that tragic day. Some have also suggested that the release of the photos could foster a broader conversation about the importance of transparency and accountability in government.
Despite the ongoing controversy, however, it seems that the release of the photos has not had a significant impact on the broader public’s view of the assassination. Many Americans still believe that RFK’s assassination – like his brother’s – was the result of a larger conspiracy, and that the true culprits have yet to be brought to justice.
Ultimately, the controversy surrounding the RFK autopsy photos highlights the complexities of an event that has been shrouded in mystery for over half a century. While the photos themselves may not be a definitive source of information about the assassination, they remain a symbol of the continued search for answers about what happened at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968. Regardless of what the photos do or do not show, it is clear that the memory of Robert Kennedy, and the legacy he left behind, will continue to be celebrated and remembered by millions of Americans for generations to come.