Trump administration releases thousands of JFK assassination docs, withholds others

The Trump administration released thousands of pages of documents from the CIA and other intelligence agencies related to the JFK assassination.

Thousands of other documents were temporarily withheld because of national security implications.  The administration said all documents will eventually be released, although many that had been withheld will contain some redactions.

The release of the documents was mandated by a 1992 law that gave the government 25 years to release all of the millions of documents it held on the assassination.


More than 2,800 uncensored documents were posted immediately to the National Archives website on Thursday evening - a staggering, disparate cache that news outlets began poring through seeking new insights into a tragedy that has been endlessly dissected for decades by investigators, scholars and conspiracy theorists.

The rest will be released "on a rolling basis," with "redactions in only the rarest of circumstances," by the end of the review on April 26, 2018, the White House said in a statement.

In a memo to government agency heads, Trump said the American people deserved as much access as possible to the records.

"Therefore, I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted," he wrote, adding that he had no choice but to accept the requested redactions for now.

A Central Intelligence Agency spokesman told Reuters that every single one of approximately 18,000 remaining CIA records in the collection would ultimately be released, with just 1 percent of the material left redacted.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was a lead advocate in arguing to the White House for keeping some materials secret, one senior administration official said.

While Kennedy was killed over half a century ago, the document file included material from investigations during the 1970s through the 1990s. Intelligence and law enforcement officials argued their release could thus put at risk some more recent "law enforcement equities" and other materials that still have relevance, the official said.

Trump was resistant but "acceded to it with deep insistence that this stuff is going to be reviewed and released in the next six months," the official added.

It seems unlikely that assassination documents from the early 1960s would contain names or sources and methods that would preclude their publication.  Later documents might contain the names of people still alive, which means their identities will probably be redacted.

But it is not likely that any of the thousands of remaining documents still to be released will contain anything that contradicts the official narrative of the assassination or give fodder to conspiracy theorists.  Some of the speculation surrounding Oswald's Russian émigré friend George de Mohrenschildt, who many have thought was closer to the CIA than was believed after his testimony before the Warren Commission, may be illuminated.  But previous document releases showed that Mohrenschildt's contacts with the CIA following his many foreign trips were routine and not out of the ordinary for other Americans who traveled abroad in the '50s and '60s.  

Assassination buffs and historians will dive into these newly released documents to extract the few nuggets of new information.  While not changing any minds, the documents will nevertheless shed new light and add new perspectives in the search for all the answers in what was known as "the crime of the century."