Biden delays release of secret JFK assassination files

·3 min read

President Joe Biden ordered yet another delay in the release of secret files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy yet to see the light of day more than 50 years after his death.

A White House memo, signed by Biden, said "[t]emporary continued postponement is necessary to protect against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure."

The order comes in response to the archivist of the United States recommending the president “temporarily certify the continued withholding of all of the information certified in 2018” and “direct two public releases of the information that has” ultimately “been determined to be appropriate for release to the public,” with one interim release on Dec. 15 and one more comprehensive release in late 2022, according to the memo.

Former President Donald Trump ordered in 2018 that documentation still under wraps stay redacted for national security reasons, with a deadline of Oct. 26, 2021. His administration said the decision was made at the behest of the intelligence community.

This time around, delays associated with the coronavirus pandemic were to blame for the recommendation to put off the release.

David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, reported “unfortunately, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the agencies” and National Archives and Records Administration, the White House memo said.

JFK. (AP Photo/Jim Altgens)

NARA “require[s] additional time to engage with the agencies and to conduct research within the larger collection to maximize the amount of information released," added the memo, which also said the archivist noted that “making these decisions is a matter that requires a professional, scholarly, and orderly process; not decisions or releases made in haste.”

Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. Oswald was arrested and charged with the killings of Kennedy and Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. The 24-year-old denied shooting Kennedy, claiming he was a "patsy," before he was shot dead soon after on national television by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

According to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which was signed into law by former President George H.W. Bush in an attempt to minimize conspiracy theories about Kennedy's death, the Congress declared, “all Government records concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy ... should be eventually disclosed to enable the public to become fully informed about the history surrounding the assassination.”

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Congress also found at the time that “most of the records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are almost 30 years old, and only in the rarest cases is there any legitimate need for continued protection of such records.”

Tens of thousands of the JFK assassination documents, with varying levels of redactions, have already been released.

Among the information that has not been made public are highly sensitive details about U.S. operations against Cuba in 1963, according to the Intercept. There are also unseen passages about surveillance techniques that detected Oswald's visits to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City weeks before Kennedy's assassination.

"Since the 1990s, more than 250,000 records concerning President Kennedy’s assassination — more than 90 percent of NARA’s collection — have been released in full to the public. Only a small fraction of the records contains any remaining redactions," the memo said.

A lot of the information that has been made available to the public is not accessible online. Under the order Friday, Biden instructed the archivist to issue a plan for the digitization of the records by Dec. 15.

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Tags: News, White House, JFK Assassination, JFK, National Archives

Original Author: Daniel Chaitin, Misty Severi

Original Location: Biden delays release of secret JFK assassination files