Thursday evening, after almost a full day of delay and social media speculation about whether it would actually happen, The National Archives released over 2,800 previously classified or redacted records related to the 1963 assassination of President John F Kennedy.
The documents, consisting of files from the FBI, the CIA, the State and Defense departments as well as other agencies involved in the investigation of Kennedy's assassination were scheduled to be released 25 years after the passage of the President John F Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The law called for the records to be made available based on the approval of the president.
President Donald Trump issued a memo to the heads of the executive departments certifying the declassification Thursday, but allowed for the withholding of some records due to national security concerns. He also noted that some within the agencies expressed reservations and therefore ordered that federal agencies be given 180 days to re-review whether certain documents were related to national security issues and therefore required continued redaction or withholding.
"Executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns," reads the memo from Trump. "I have no choice -- today -- but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation's security. To further address these concerns, I am also ordering agencies to re-review each and every one of those redactions over the next 180 days."
"At the end of that period, I will order the public disclosure of any information that the agencies cannot demonstrate meets the statutory standard for continued postponement of disclosure under [the act]," it continues.
A total of 2,891 records were released and posted to the National Archives' website, with more expected to be made public following the continued review.
The vast majority of records related to the assassination, approximately 88 percent, have been available since the late 1990s, with an additional 11 percent of the documents released, with redactions, since that time. Thursday evenings release included some of the remaining files and some of the redacted portions of previously released documents.
Since President Trump's announcement that he would likely allow the release of these documents speculation continued to grow as to what the documents would contain. Scholars, conspiracy theorists and social media commentators all chimed in, with their opinions ranging from proof that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone to theories that Lyndon B Johnson or organized crime members ordered the assassination.
On the October 25th broadcast of Spaced Out Radio, when questioned about what they expected the new documents to reveal, movie producer/director Ian Holt and Mark Shaw, author of "The Reporter Who Knew Too much" had differing opinions. Holt thought the documents might reveal some information on how the anti-Castro movement in Cuba was funded, while Shaw hopes we gain some insight into the lives of Joseph Kennedy, Jack Ruby and Dorothy Kilgallen. They both agreed that no information that might embarrass the government would come to light.
Regardless of what the released documents might hold, Ian Holt may have summed up the situation best when he said that the knowledge will not come to light in the next few hours and days, but most likely after months of people scouring these documents looking for that unnoticed and overlooked piece of the puzzle.
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