WASHINGTON — The Biden administration Wednesday released never-before-seen documents that could help answer lingering questions surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The National Archives released nearly 1,500 documents as part of a memorandum signed by President Joe Biden in October. The tranche is the latest made publicly available over the years under The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, or the “JFK Act.”
The full records collection contains approximately 5 million pages of documents.
That’s why Jefferson Morley, a veteran journalist and author of three books on the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s, called the new release a “sham.”
“According to the law, all JFK records were supposed to be made available within 25 years, no exception,” Morley told USA TODAY.
But the law also allows for postponement at the discretion of the president.
In 2018, former President Donald Trump acquiesced to requests from national archivists not to release some new documents because of national safety concerns. The Biden administration followed suit until recently, according to Morley.
“They blew the deadline twice and that indicates that the CIA does not want to obey this law,” Morley said. “The question is: why?”
The Warren Commission, established by Kennedy’s successor Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation determined U.S. Marine veteran Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK in the head while the former president rode in a motorcade through Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Oswald was assassinated by Jack Ruby two days later while being transferred from police headquarters to a county jail.
Some historians and conspiracy theorists have often challenged the result of the investigation, and doubts about the findings of the Warren Commission persist decades later.
“The Warren Commission was told the CIA knew very little about Lee Harvey Oswald,” Morley said. “We learned in the last 20 years they had monitored his movements for four years.”
Files released in 2017 under the JFK Act showed the agency followed Oswald’s travels prior to the assassination but agents did not consider him a threat.
Morley said only about 10% of redacted records were released Wednesday.
“The government’s never offered a credible explanation for the assassination,” he said. “People don’t believe what they’re hearing. And when they’re holding 90% of the documents that are required by law, they continue 50 years of deception and deceit.”
Redacted records are permitted by the JFK Act. Most of the collection has been made available to the public without restrictions since the late 1990s, but agencies appealed to Biden to continue postponement of certain information beyond Oct. 22.
The president, in turn, provided agencies with a temporary certification until Dec. 15, 2022, to allow for the review of all withheld documents while disclosing all information “except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise,” according to a press release. Any withheld documentation – over 14,000 records, according to the National Archives – not proposed for continued postponement will be released on that date.
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