Trump to release remaining JFK assassination documents
President Trump announced yesterday that he would be releasing the remaining documents in the National Archives relating to the JFK assassination.
Congress passed a law in 1992 mandating the release over the next 25 years of millions of documents on the assassination. But several thousand documents had been withheld by the CIA and FBI citing national security concerns.
Trump said he would release those documents "subject to the receipt of further information." The deadline set by congress in 1992 for the release of all documents was October 26 of this year, which gives the CIA and other intelligence agencies in the government just a few days to make a case why some documents should not be revealed.
"Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened," Trump said, appearing to leave open the possibility that some documents could still be withheld.
A White House official told reporters Saturday: "The President believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise."
The White House said in a statement to Politico earlier this week that the White House was working "to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public" by next week's deadline.
Trump himself is no stranger to the controversies and conspiracy theories that have long swirled around the assassination of the 35th president.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump made the unfounded claim that the father of GOP rival Sen. Ted Cruz was associated with Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, a claim he has never reneged nor apologized for.
Trump's longtime political adviser Roger Stone, who helped launch Trump's campaign for president, is also an avid conspiracy theorist who wrote a book about the wild claim that President Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy's vice president, was involved in Kennedy's assassination.
Anyone looking for new information that proves, or disproves, a conspiracy in the assassination is going to be disappointed. At one time, there may have been a compelling reason to keep some of the documents secret because they would have revealed "sources and methods" used by our intelligence agencies. But outside of a few documents generated since 1992, it is likely that those concerns are no longer valid.
Still, there appears to be resistance from the CIA:
“It’s great news that the president is focused on this and that he’s trying to demonstrate transparency. But the question remains whether he will open the library in full — every word in every document, as the law requires,” Shenon said. “And my understanding is that he won’t without infuriating people at the CIA and elsewhere who are determined to keep at least some of the information secret, especially in documents created in the 1990s.”
Jefferson Morley, a former Post reporter who has studied the Kennedy assassination records for years, said the last tranche of material is also intriguing because it contains files on senior CIA officials from the 1960s — officers well aware of Oswald’s activities in the days before the assassination.
Some intelligence officials have expressed concern that the documents will embarrass Mexico, given Oswald's trip to that country in September of 1963 and his meetings with Soviet and Cuban embassy officials. There has been much speculation about what Oswald discussed with our enemies but Soviet and Cuban officials who say there were present during meetings with Oswald claim the American never mentioned wanting to kill Kennedy.
For historians and avid amateurs, this release will no doubt be of great interest. It remains to be seen just how many documents - if any - Trump will withhold at the request of our intelligence agencies.