1 Reply Latest reply on Dec 17, 2021 12:14 PM by Rebecca Collier

    Who decides what records are released pertaining to the Kennedy assassination?

    Randy Caperton Newbie

      Who decides what the American people are prohibited in seeing pertaining to the Kennedy assassination? I'm wondering what government official decides what the American people aren't allowed to see regarding JFK's assassination.

        • Re: Who decides what records are released pertaining to the Kennedy assassination?
          Rebecca Collier Ranger

          Dear Mr. Caperton,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          It is a common misconception that the records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy are in some way sealed. In fact, the records are largely open and available to the research community at the National Archives at College Park in the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Record Collection.


          Congress created the Kennedy Collection when it passed the Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. This statute directed all Federal agencies to transmit to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) all records relating to the assassination in their custody. The JFK Act also created a temporary agency, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), to ensure that the agencies complied with the Act.


          In addition to records already open at NARA prior to the passing of the JFK Act, the Collection now consists of previously withheld records of the Warren Commission, records of the Office of the Archivist, and newly released materials from the Kennedy, Johnson, and Ford Presidential Libraries. Other agency records in the Collection include records of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, records of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a small amount of material from a variety of other agencies, including the Office of Naval Intelligence. The Collection now includes over five million pages of records.


          With a very few exceptions, virtually all of the records identified as belonging to the Kennedy Collection have been opened in part or in full. Those documents that are closed in full or in part were done so in accordance with the JFK Act, mentioned above. According to the Act, no record could be withheld in part or in full, without the agreement of the ARRB. The guidelines for withholding records are outlined in the provisions in Section 6 of the Act. The full report of the ARRB is available online. A copy of the Act is in Adobe Acrobat PDFAppendix C of the ARRB Report mentioned above. In all cases where the ARRB agreed to withhold a record or information in a record, they stipulated a specific release date for the document. In addition, according to Section 5(g)(2)(D) of the Act, all records in the Kennedy Collection were to be opened in 2017 unless certified as justifiably closed by the President of the United States.


          On April 26, 2018, President Donald Trump certified the continued postponement of information proposed by the agencies, withholding those records from full public disclosure until no later than October 26, 2021.


          On October 22, 2021, President Biden issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Temporary Certification Regarding Disclosure of Information in Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, requiring the disclosure of releasable records by December 15, 2021, and requiring re-review by December 15, 2022, of documents where agencies request continued postponement. The National Archives has posted records online to comply with these requirements.


          For more information about the ARRB and the JFK Act, please read the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board. As mentioned above, a copy of the JFK Act is in appendix C of the report.


          We hope this is helpful.


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