Oct 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden, National Archives sued over unreleased JFK assassination records

Texas Governor John Connally adjusts his tie (foreground) as President and Mrs. Kennedy, in a pink outfit, settled in rear seats.

President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy settled in rear seats. Photo: Getty Images

A new lawsuit seeks to force the Biden administration and the National Archives to release all remaining government documents about former President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Why it matters: The lawsuit, filed by the Mary Ferrell Foundation, is the latest attempt to make public a trove of records related to Kennedy's murder, which has been the subject of conspiracy theories and speculation for decades.

Details: The lawsuit argues that the government hasn't followed through with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which Congress passed without dissent in hopes of making JFK assassination records public by 2017, NBC News reports.

  • The foundation wants a judge to void Biden's decision from last year to delay the release of the records from the National Archives.
  • The suit also alleges the federal government redacted records involving the CIA, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the alleged JFK shooter Lee Harvey Oswald and more.
  • The foundation also called on the National Archives to find records “known to exist but that are not part of the JFK Collection.”
  • "What the CIA is hiding is the operational interest of senior CIA officials in Lee Harvey Oswald, while President Kennedy was still alive," Jefferson Morley, vice president of the nonpartisan Mary Ferrell Foundation, told Axios Wednesday in a phone interview.

Flashback: In October 2021, the White House postponed the release of about 16,000 documents tied to Kennedy's death, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In the memo, President Biden called on the National Archives to conduct a one-year review of the documents to ensure the U.S. can disclose all details of the incident “except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.”
  • Biden released 1,500 documents related to JFK"s death last December, Axios reported.
  • Former President Trump also extended the deadline to release the files in 2018, citing national security, per CNN. About 19,000 documents tied to the assassination were released at the same time, though.

What they're saying: "If you have nothing to hide, then don't hide anything," Morley told Axios.

  • The National Archives said it has finished "a document-level review and a redaction-level review of information not yet released" under the collection act, according to a statement emailed to Axios.
  • The NARA "made its recommendations" to Biden and "the results of those reviews will be made public in December, in accordance with the memo," per the statement.
  • The White House did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Worth noting: Morley told Axios that the final 16,000 documents yet to be released are among the most sensitive about JFK's death.

  • "These are the documents that they are the most reluctant to release," he said. "Obviously, they've been keeping them secret for 60 years."

Go deeper: Remembering JFK's assassination 54 years later

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