National Archives releases thousands of JFK assassination documents


The National Archives on Thursday released thousands of previously classified documents collected as part of the government’s review of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The cache of more than 13,000 documents is the second of two dumps of documents related to the JFK assassination that President Joe Biden ordered last year when the White House postponed a public release due to the Covid pandemic. -19.

“[T]he profound national tragedy of President Kennedy’s assassination continues to resonate in American history and in the memories of so many Americans who were alive on that terrible day; meanwhile, the need to protect records relating to the assassination has weakened over time,” the White House said in a memorandum Thursday.

“It is therefore essential to ensure that the United States government maximizes transparency by releasing all information contained in the files relating to the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons advise otherwise.”

Biden said in the memo that the National Archives and other agencies have until May 2023 to review the remaining private documents. After that, “any information withheld from public discourse that the agencies do not recommend for continued deferral” will be released by June 30, 2023.

The Kennedy assassination sparked a whirlwind of questions from the public and scholars, numerous conspiracy theories, and reflexive secrecy from the government.

Researchers have warned that it will likely take days to sift through the thousands of documents with a fine-toothed comb to ensure there are no new clues surrounding the assassination or new historical information about the operations of the CIA and FBI in the 1960s.

But for many lawmakers and transparency advocates, releasing all remaining documents is about restoring trust in the workings of government. Public polls have long shown that a majority of Americans do not believe the Warren Commission’s official conclusion that Kennedy was killed by one man, Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone.

Larry Sabato, author of “The Kennedy Half Century: The President, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy,” told CNN that while there may be hidden gems throughout the document’s release, nothing will change. what happened on that day in 1963.

“It won’t change history,” he said of the recently declassified documents. “It’s not. I guarantee you.”

He added that if people are looking for evidence to support conspiracy theories that Oswald did not act alone in Kennedy’s murder, or that the CIA was involved in some way, they wouldn’t. will not find here.

“The truth is not that Oswald was part of a plot to kill Kennedy,” he said. “The truth is that this assassination was preventable and could have been prevented and should have been if the CIA and FBI were doing their job. Really, that’s it. That’s serious, but you’re not going to find the names of other conspirators here.

And while there may not be earth-shattering revelations about what happened on November 22, 1963, Sabato noted a document dealing with Oswald’s time in Mexico City, which says the United States was leading a “highly secret” wiretap center with the president of Mexico, not even known to Mexican law enforcement. He also identified a National Archives and Records Administration document that said as of this month, 28 recordings from the JFK collection remained “unlocated.”

Admissions like these are what fuel conspiracy theories, Sabato said.

“If you’re conspiratorial, you think, ‘Aha! There were important documents containing key information and they conveniently “lost” them. Now, that may be true. But I would say the odds are huge that they just got lost. I mean, there’s so much paper,” he said.

Over the years, millions of documents have become public, providing researchers with the opportunity to look not only at records related to the Kennedy assassination, but also at a variety of other subjects, from life and murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Cold War moments.

In 1992, Congress passed the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, in part because of the furor caused by Oliver Stone’s conspiratorial film “JFK.”

The law said all assassination records had to be made public by October 2017, but former President Donald Trump and now Biden have allowed multiple deferrals on the advice of the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies. national security. Trump eventually released tens of thousands of documents, the majority of which include at least some redactions.


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