On Thursday, US President Donald Trump ordered the release of 2,800 documents pertaining to the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy in 1963, but gave in to the pressure from the CIA and FBI to block the unveiling of some other records until they are reviewed further. In 1992, Congress had ordered that all the remaining sealed files concerned with the investigation into the death of Kennedy should be opened to the public fully via the National Archives in 25 years, which came to October 26, 2017. However, the president had the option of withholding some if he felt there was a need.
The president had confirmed on Saturday that the final batch of once-classified records comprising of tens of thousands of pages would be released, subject to any further information he received. But, as the deadline drew nearer, it was decided by the administration at the eleventh hour to break down the final release in the next 180 days as this would give enough time to the government agencies to decide if any documents should be redacted or stay sealed. According to the law, the president has the authority to keep material under wraps if he believes that it can harm national defense, conduct of foreign relations, intelligence operations and law enforcement as this would outweigh the public’s right of full disclosure.
Immediately on Thursday evening, more than 2,800 uncensored documents were posted on the website of the National Archives. This is a disparate and staggering cache and news outlet started poring through it to find any new insights into a tragedy that has been dissected endlessly for decades by scholars, investigators and conspiracy theorists. In a statement, the White House said that the rest of the documents would be released ‘on a rolling basis’ by April 26, 2018 as they were being reviewed and redactions would only be made in the rarest of situations.
A memo was sent by Trump to government agency heads in which he said that the American people had the right to get as much access as possible to records. He stated that this was the reason he was unveiling the documents and had no other choice except to let the requested redactions go for now. The Central Intelligence Agency has about 18,000 remaining records in their collection and a spokesman for the CIA said that every single one of them would be released ultimately and only 1 percent of the material would remain redacted.
Mike Pompeo, the CIA director was a lead advocate in stating that some of the materials be kept secret by the White House. Kennedy was assassinated about a half century ago and the documents file include investigations that were conducted into his death from the 1970s to the 1990s. Law enforcement and intelligence officials said that the release of this material could put some recent ‘equities’ at risk as well as other material that’s relevant. Initially, Trump was resistant, but acceded by insisting that it be reviewed and released in the next six months.