More than 13,000 documents relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have been released to the public, but many more records still remain classified.
The National Archives released 13,173 documents on Thursday following authorization from President Biden. The agency originally said 12,879 documents were to be released, but later made “last-minute additions.”
President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Now, more than 97% of the 5 million pages of records relating to Kennedy’s assassination are available to the public, according to the Archives.
“The profound national tragedy of President Kennedy’s assassination continues to resonate in American history and in the memories of so many Americans who were alive on that terrible day; meanwhile, the need to protect records concerning the assassination has weakened with the passage of time,” Biden said in his executive order.
“It is therefore critical to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency by disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.
“Pursuant to my direction, agencies have undertaken a comprehensive effort to review the full set of almost 16,000 records that had previously been released in redacted form and determined that more than 70 percent of those records may now be released in full,” the president wrote.
“This significant disclosure reflects my Administration’s commitment to transparency and will provide the American public with greater insight and understanding of the Government’s investigation into this tragic event in American history.”
However, Biden blocked the release of additional materials until June 30, 2023, claiming that releasing them now would cause “identifiable harm.”
“I agree that continued postponement of public disclosure of such information is warranted to protect against an 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 disclosure,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Thursday’s briefing, “President Biden believes all information related to President Kennedy’s assassination should be released to the greatest extent possible, consistent with … national security.”
“That’s why he directed the acting archivist to conduct a supplementary six-month review of a subset of the remaining redacted records to ensure they are disclosed to the greatest extent possible,” she continued.
Last year, the National Archives released about 1,500 documents relating to JFK’s assassination, including CIA memos discussing assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s trips to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City mere months before he murdered the president.
The JFK Records Act of 1992 directed that all documents relating to the assassination be released by 2017. However, government officials have continued to postpone the release of thousands of documents citing national security concerns.
A spokesperson for the CIA said on Thursday that some records must remain classified in order to protect intelligence sources.
“What little information remains redacted in CIA records in the Collection consists of intelligence sources and methods — some from as late as the 1990s, provided initially to give the JFK Review Board overall context on the CIA — the release of which would currently do identifiable harm to intelligence operations,” according to the spokesperson.
‘”[The] CIA believes all of its information known to be directly related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 has already been released,” the spokesperson said. “Likewise, we are not aware of any documents known to be directly related to Oswald that have not already been made part of the Collection.”
Now, 95% of the CIA’s documents within the Kennedy records collection have been released in entirety, according to the agency, and “no documents remain redacted or withheld in full.”