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The National Archives Releases Previously Classified Documents on JFK’s Assassination

Written by Rachel Starr

On October 26, the National Archives released 2,891 records relating to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which includes documents from the CIA, FBI, and other agencies. Out of these records, 53 were made public for the first time, while the rest had been only partially released. The National Archives also released unclassified electronic records, including thousands of emails and files from the Assassination Records Review Board.

The release of the documents relating to JFK’s assassination is subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which required them to be made public by this date. The collection consists of roughly five million pages of records, with 88 percent already having been fully available to the public since the late 1990s. The National Archives previously released 3,810 related records in July of this year.

However, President Trump is temporarily allowing certain information from the records to be withheld if it could be a threat to national security as advised by the CIA, FBI, outside of intelligence agencies. Trump is promising to release all the JFK assassination files, other than personal information of any person still living, by April 26, 2018. In a tweet from Friday night, Trump said, “I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest.” Trump told agencies that are reviewing and re-reviewing records to redact information only in the rarest cases where withholding “is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations.” 3,000 documents remain classified while 27,000 are only partially unclassified.

Experts who have been examining the newly released records believe the information expands upon previous knowledge of JFK’s assassination, but does not considerably change what has been understood about the event. Yet some are agreeing that the documents reveal important historical context regarding relations between the United States and Cuba during this era.

About the author

Rachel Starr