Biden Administration Set to Release Further Secret JFK Documents

Biden Administration Set to Release Further Secret JFK Documents U.S. President John F. Kennedy's motorcade A photo dated Nov. 22, 1963, of U.S. President John F. Kennedy's motorcade shortly before his assassination in Dallas. (AFP via Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wednesday, 15 December 2021 07:36 AM

The Biden administration is expected to release some secret documents concerning the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Wednesday, but researchers say the release likely won't change people's minds who don't believe the Warren Commission's findings that his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, acted alone.

"Because it has taken [the government] so long to get these records out, no matter what comes out, no one is going to believe that that's it," an official familiar with the classification concerns about the documents said, reports CNN.

Only a small number of the tens ot thousands of records concerning the assassination that were collected by a review board Congress established in 1992 are expected to be released on Wednesday, the administration's deadline. Many of the records remain either withheld or are partially redacted.

President Joe Biden in October delayed a release of the JFK documents, saying at that time his move was made 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 the immediate disclosure."

He also blamed the pandemic, saying that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) was impacted and needed "additional time to engage with the agencies and to conduct research within the larger collection to maximize the amount of information released."

At that time, he set deadlines for Wednesday to release documents that national security agencies did not propose should be withheld, and another deadline for Dec. 15, 2022, which will allow for remaining documents to go through a security review before their release.

The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, passed by Congress in 1992, dictates that all records must be publicly disclosed by October 2017. Trump eventually released tens of thousands of documents, but most had redactions.

According to the National Archives, more than 90% of the records have been released, but 520 documents, mostly tax records that include Oswald's tax returns have been withheld. The JFK records act specifically excludes them.

Agencies calling to withhold documents past the December 2022 deadline are being asked to supply reasons why they want them to be postponed, Biden said in his order in October. Those requests are to be indexed, with the indexes then to be released along with the remaining documents.

"President Biden's memo reinforces the strict standards established by Congress and holds agencies to a strict timeline and well-structured process," Ezra Cohen, the chairman of the bipartisan Public Interest Declassification Board, whose members serve by appointment by the president and Congress, said in a statement, reports CNN.

"The PIDB's expectation is that a year from now, most of the records currently withheld will be declassified and available to the public," Cohen said.

Meanwhile, some researchers are frustrated by Biden's plans on releasing the documents.

Attorney Larry Schnapf, an assassination researcher, said Tuesday he plans to sue the president for not releasing all of the remaining records.

He has sued before for internal government communications behind Biden's previous delay, as well as one ordered by former President Donald Trump, and said in an email to reporters Tuesday that he wants Biden to either release the records or specify the "identifiable harm" claimed on each document.

CIA historian David Priess, however, said that as many of the documents involve Cold War intelligence activities, it's still "possible," but "increasingly unlikely" a CIA source from the early 1960s could still be alive and at risk, and that danger must be balanced against historical and public interest.