President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992

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President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titles JFK Records Act
Long title An Act to provide for the expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Nicknames Kennedy Assassination (Open Files) Bill
Enacted by the 102nd United States Congress
Effective October 26, 1992; 27 years ago (1992-10-26)
Citations
Public law 102-526
Statutes at Large 106 Stat. 3443
Codification
Titles amended 44 U.S.C.: Public Printing and Documents
U.S.C. sections amended 44 U.S.C. ch. 21 § 2107
Legislative history
Major amendments
Pub.L. 103–345, 108 Stat. 3128, enacted October 6, 1994

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, or the JFK Records Act, is a public law passed by the United States Congress, effective October 26, 1992.[1] It directed the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to establish a collection of records to be known as the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection. It stated that the collection shall consist of copies of all U.S. government records relating to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and that they are to be housed in the NARA Archives II building in College Park, Maryland. The collection also included any materials created or made available for use by, obtained by, or otherwise came into the possession of any state or local law enforcement office that provided support or assistance or performed work in connection with a federal inquiry into the assassination.

Background

The final report of the Act's Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) partially credited the conclusions in Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK with the passage of the Act.[2] The ARRB stated that the film "popularized a version of President Kennedy’s assassination that featured U.S. government agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the military as conspirators."[3]

Requirements and process

The Act requires that each assassination record be publicly disclosed in full and be made available in the collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of the Act (which was October 26, 2017), unless the President of the United States certifies that: (1) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and (2) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The definition of "assassination record" was left broad by the Act and determined in practice by the ARRB; a final definition was published in the Federal Register on June 28, 1995.[4] The basic definition was:

"An assassination record includes, but is not limited to, all records, public and private, regardless of how labeled or identified, that document, describe, report on, analyze, or interpret activities, persons, or events reasonably related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and investigations of or inquiries into the assassination."

This was supplemented with coverage of all government records relating to investigations of the assassination (including those specified in Section 3(2) of the Act), as well as supplementary records required to clarify meanings of other documents (such as code names used).[4]

The ARRB determined that agencies could not object to disclosure "solely on grounds of non-relevance," stating that the ARRB is responsible for making decisions that determine relevance.[4]

Assassination Records Review Board

The Act established, as an independent agency, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), to consider and render decisions when a U.S. government office sought to postpone the disclosure of assassination records. The Board met for four years, from October 1, 1994 to September 30, 1998. When the Act was passed in 1992, 98 percent of all Warren Commission documents had been released to the public. By the time the Board disbanded, all Warren Commission documents, except income tax returns, had been released to the public, with only minor redactions.[5]

The ARRB collected evidence starting in 1992, then produced its final report in 1998.[4] The ARRB was not enacted to determine why or by whom the murder was committed but to collect and preserve the evidence for public scrutiny. After the enactment of the federal law that created the ARRB, the Board collected a large amount of documents and took testimony of those who had relevant information of the events.[6] The Committee finished its work in 1998 and in its final report, the ARRB outlined the problems that government secrecy created regarding the murder of President Kennedy.[7]

Some of the information was gathered by way of testimony from witnesses that had eyewitness knowledge of the events. For example, the Board interviewed the physicians who treated the president's massive head wound at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.[8] This was a highly trained team of emergency care physicians, some of whom testified in secret before the Warren Commission. These transcripts have now also been made public.[9] Other information consists of a large number of documents from the FBI and CIA that were required to cooperate with the turnover of relevant records held secret by these agencies.

Status

By ARRB law (of 1998), all existing assassination-related documents will be made public by October 2017.[10] At the moment, over 35,000 documents are still not fully available (partially redacted) to the public, and among them, 3,603 have never been seen by the public.[11] [12]

In 2013, the ARRB's former chairman John R. Tunheim and former deputy director Thomas Samoluk wrote in the Boston Globe that after the ARRB had declassified 5 million documents, "There is a body of documents that the CIA is still protecting, which should be released. Relying on inaccurate representations made by the CIA in the mid-1990s, the Review Board decided that records related to a deceased CIA agent named George Joannides were not relevant to the assassination. Subsequent work by researchers, using other records that were released by the board, demonstrates that these records should be made public." Tunheim and Samoluk pointed out that the CIA had not told the Warren Commission that George Joannides was the CIA lead for the Agency's links with the anti-Castro group Oswald had a public fight with in mid-1963; nor had they told the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), of which Joannides was the CIA's liaison.[13] Tunheim said in a separate interview that "It really was an example of treachery... If [the CIA] fooled us on that, they may have fooled us on other things."[14]

On July 24, 2017, the National Archives began the process of releasing the remaining documents.[15] The first batch released included 441 FBI and CIA records which were withheld in full and 3,369 documents previously released with portions redacted.[15] These included 17 audio files of interviews of Yuri Nosenko, a KGB officer who claimed to have been the officer in charge of the KGB file on Lee Harvey Oswald during Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union and who also defected to the U.S. in January 1964.[15]

On October 21, 2017 US President Donald Trump stated on his Twitter account that he will allow the release of the remaining documents. He tweeted:[16]

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened”

His statement hinted the possibility of some documents could still be withheld if their release would harm military operations, law enforcement or foreign relations.[17][18]

On October 26 Trump signed a memo ensuring the release of 2,800 previous withheld or redacted documents and putting the remaining ones under review until April 26, 2018.[19][20] 2,891 of at least 3,140 documents which were still classified were made public.[21][19][22] This included details about proposals to assassinate Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba and Indonesian president Sukarno,[23] as well as attempts during the 1960s and 1970s to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro through Operation Mongoose and other plots. US Attorney General Robert Kennedy was reluctant to recruit the Mafia in the assassination attempts against Castro due to his push against organized crime.[23] These documents were the last ones which were required to be released under Section 5 of the law, while the remaining ones still classified will only be analyzed for redactions.[24]

See also

References

  1. Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "George Bush: "Statement on Signing the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992," October 26, 1992". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Assassination Records Review Board (September 30, 1998). "Executive Summary". Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (pdf). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. p. xxiii. Retrieved June 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Assassination Records Review Board (September 30, 1998). "Chapter 1: The Problem of Secrecy and the JFK Act". Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (pdf). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. p. 6. Retrieved June 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Assassination Records Review Board (September 30, 1998). Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (pdf). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved March 7, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. ARRB Final Report, p. 2. Redacted text includes the names of living intelligence sources, intelligence gathering methods still used today and not commonly known, and purely private matters. The Kennedy autopsy photographs and X-rays were never part of the Warren Commission records and were deeded separately to the National Archives by the Kennedy family in 1966 under restricted conditions. The JFK Records Act specifically excluded those records.
  6. "Assassination Records Review Board Testimony". Jfkassassination.net. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. [1][dead link]
  8. "Parkland Doctors ARRB Testimony". Jfkassassination.net. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Testimony Of Dr. Robert Nelson Mcclelland". Jfkassassination.net. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Chapter 5 The Standards for Review: Review Board "Common Law"". Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board. September 1998. Retrieved 2008-10-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "A Call to Action". 2017JFK.org. 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Why the last of the JFK files could embarrass the CIA". Politico. May 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. John R. Tunheim and Thomas E. Samoluk, Boston Globe, 21 November 2013, Assassination questions remain: With much revealed, CIA still holds back
  14. Bryan Bender, The Boston Globe, 25 November 2013, Troves of files on JFK assassination remain secret
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 (24 July 2017) National Archives Begins Online Release of JFK Assassination Records. National Archives
  16. realDonaldTrump (21 October 2017). "Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened" (Tweet).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "JFK assassination: Trump to allow release of classified documents". CBS News. Retrieved 23 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Shear, Michael D. (21 October 2017). "Trump Says He Will Release Final Set of Documents on Kennedy Assassination". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 Yuhas, Alan (27 October 2017). "Government releases classified JFK assassination documents – as it happened". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Shapira, Ian; Hendrix, Steve; Leonnig, Carol D. (27 October 2017). "Trump delays release of some JFK assassination documents, bowing to national security concerns". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "JFK Assassination Records - 2017 Additional Documents Release". Archives.gov. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Trump allows release of most but not all remaining Kennedy assassination files". Nbcnews.com. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Summary of Facts" (PDF). Archives.gov. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "National Archives Releases JFK Assassination Records". Archives.gov. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links