Showing posts with label National Archives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Archives. Show all posts

30 September 2021

Another JFK files deadline (Updated)

Update: Release postponed again

Oct. 22, 2021: U.S. President Joe Biden has postponed until at least December of 2022 the legally required release of the remainder of federal JFK assassination documents. A White House statement indicated that the delay had been requested by National Archives, which is dealing with COVID-19 pandemic-related backlogs in document processing. According to the statement, the President has ordered National Archives to complete an intensive review of the remaining secret files by December 15, 2022, and to make electronic copies of all JFK files available to the public online. The statement suggests that some currently withheld documents - those already designated as suitable for release - could be provided by National Archives a year earlier, December 15, 2021. Our original Sept. 30 post follows:

About one month remains before President Joe Biden is due to decide if the remaining redactions will be lifted from federal Kennedy Assassination records.

During the Trump Administration, a number of CIA records were released and redactions were removed from many National Archives documents. These contained no "blockbuster" revelations about the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John Kennedy but some interesting details. President Donald Trump decided at that time that other records should continue to be withheld from public scrutiny for three years past the October 26, 2017, expected release date.

U.S. Chief Archivist David Ferriero was scheduled to make a recommendation on the remaining records to President Biden this past Sunday (September 26, 2021). The following day, the Public Interest Declassification Board wrote to the President:

"We understand that agencies are asking you to extend the postponement of public disclosure... The Board unanimously recommends that you limit any further postponements of public disclosures of the Kennedy assassination records to the absolute minimum."

A 1992 law (the JFK Act) related to Kennedy assassination records called for all records to be released after twenty-five years unless the President decided that postponement was necessary on the grounds of "identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or foreign relations... [that] outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

According to the National Archives and Records Administration, there are remaining redactions in 15,834 documents - most of these created by the CIA. NARA states that 520 full documents, still withheld and not identified by the agency, are not subject to the JFK Act.

Related posts:

 

28 April 2018

JFK wait extended three and a half more years

President orders that some assassination files
remain sealed at least until October 26, 2021

Due to lingering "national security, law enforcement and foreign affairs concerns," many documents relating to the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy will remain hidden from public view at least until Oct. 26, 2021.

All related documents were scheduled for release on Oct. 26, 2017, according to a deadline set by Congress in 1992. In advance of the deadline, National Archives made 3,810 pages available to the public. On the deadline date, another 2,891 were released, but many thousands more remained hidden.

At that time, President Donald Trump allowed six months - until April 26 - for federal agencies, including CIA and FBI, to do a final review of the withheld papers and make their arguments for any continued secrecy.

The archives released more than 28,000 pages - many containing redactions to maintain the secrecy of portions of pages - during November and December of 2017.

On April 26, the archives released 18,731 documents (a press release puts the number at 19,045), many with redactions.* Another 520 records remain entirely sealed.
 
The President stated in a memorandum that continued secrecy of the withheld documents and redacted portions of documents "is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure." He ordered that agencies conduct additional reviews of the records over the next three years, leaving open the possibility that some will remain secret even after 2021.

Online records:

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See related article:
* Many of these pages are duplicates of previously released pages with some of their earlier redactions restored.

27 October 2017

Many, but not all, JFK files released

TIME photograph
Last night, the U.S. National Archives publicly released 2,891 previously classified documents relating to the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The documents are accessible through the National Archives website.

National Archives
The release was made in accordance with a law passed in 1992, which required that assassination records be made public after 25 years. Then-President George H.W. Bush signed the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act on Oct. 26, 1992, setting a final release date of Oct. 26, 2017. A batch of 3,810 documents were released July 24, several months before the deadline. A last remaining batch of at least 3,140 files - many thousands of pages - remained secret through the final day, waiting on a release authorization by President Donald Trump.

In the evening, President Trump issued a memorandum approving the release of 2,891 of the remaining files but permitting an additional six months of review on 249 others. Reports indicate that officials of the CIA and FBI urged that those files not be released.

The President said the continued secrecy was necessary to address "national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns." He further stated, "This temporary withholding from full public disclosure is necessary to protect against 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 review of remaining material is scheduled for completion by April 26, 2018, but some information may remain classified after that time if agencies can demonstrate a continued national security threat from its exposure.

Portion of released document

Working through the night to digest the just-released documents, historians and researchers discovered some interesting items:

 - One CIA document, dealing with Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City two months before the Kennedy assassination, suggested that Oswald was accompanied on that trip by anti-Castro Cuban Francisco Rodriguez Tamayo. Rodriguez Tamayo was a captain in Castro's army before defecting to the U.S. in June 1959. He subsequently led an anti-Castro training facility in Louisiana.

 - Documents also revealed that the government of Mexico was actively aiding the U.S. in electronic surveillance of Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City.

 - Some documents related to CIA efforts to encourage the assassination of Cuban President Fidel Castro and other Cuban communist leaders. There also was discussion of agency outreach to American organized crime leaders for their help in eliminating Castro.

Reviewers of the documents have noted that the collection released last night did not contain any "blockbuster" revelations and shed little light on subjects of intense interest to assassination conspiracy theorists, such as the relationship between Oswald and the Central Intelligence Agency.



Personal note: I am amazed that "national security" is still being used as an excuse to deny U.S. citizens access to documents about the assassination of their President 54 years ago. Assassination is the ultimate breach of national security. Only by completely understanding and appropriately responding to what occurred can we hope to restore that security. I'm sure we will find (someday) that personal/agency embarrassment - government INsecurity - is the real reason documents continue to be concealed. And I would argue that secrecy over embarrassing facts is itself a serious threat to national security.


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