JFK Files Release — National Archives Chaos?

JFK, records, National Archives
Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from National Archives / Wikimedia and OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay.

It’s past 6:00 pm EST, and the National Archives has not yet released the long awaited JFK assassination documents. Weeks ago they assured WhoWhatWhy that we were on the mailing list for updates, while unwilling or unable to give out any information regarding the timing of the release, the number of documents, or whether any executive branch agencies had requested some or all of the documents to be withheld.

Perhaps one of the most important events for JFK researchers and historians, it was not even mentioned on its website calendar. Around 11:00 AM this morning, the front-page of the website was updated with a box saying, “Stay Tuned for Updates.”

This date was not a surprise to the National Archives — this past July, the agency preempted the release with a “small” batch of around 4,000 documents. Today is supposed to be the large drop of what many experts assume will be more than 30,000 documents.

The president himself seemed to be giving the green light in several tweets this past week. But now we are hearing that there might be complications.

Pete Williams, Pentagon Correspondent for NBC News, says he has been told that some agencies have not even submitted their objections yet to NARA.

In an exchange this morning on a listserv for JFK records researchers, Williams wrote [he approved dissemination of his comments]:

We’ve been told by intelligence officials that the memo has not even been sent to the White House yet, specifying which material the agencies want withheld. Our understanding is that the CIA is asking only for some redactions, not for documents to be withheld in their entirety. But other agencies involved in the process have not yet finished their submissions.

These officials believe that little material, therefore, will come out today. “There’s a mad scramble going on in the executive branch to get this done,” one official tells us.

He later added:

I just talked to an official at another US agency whose documents are at issue. His understanding is that some material will come out today but the remainder will be postponed to a later date. However, the issue of what to do now is still being discussed, and no decisions have been made.

Federal law states that all documents concerning the JFK assassination must be released by today, unless the president personally decides to withhold documents if he believes the supposed harm to national security would outweigh the public interest.

It’s a truly astounding state of affairs — both fodder for those who say government cannot be counted on to get things done efficiently, and for those who point out that many agencies are woefully underfunded and hence understaffed. And, for those who see more sinister motives, signs that some people are still determined to keep the full truth from the American people.

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