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JFK document declassification brings electronic records into spotlight

Summary

Almost 3,000 records now public; National Archives calls them “tangential” to 1963 assassination

Newswire: Oct. 26, 2017.

Dateline: Washington.

Nearly 3,000 electronic records related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy are now available to the public through the National Archives website, one of the largest and most visible declassifications of electronic records by the federal government in recent history.

The National Archives and Records Administration called the records “tangential to the assassination events,” but nonetheless was bound to release them on Oct. 26 — 25 years after the establishment of the JFK Assassination Records Collection by act of Congress (and signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992).

Some of the records have been withheld temporarily as federal agencies have expressed concerns that their information could compromise the national security. A redaction process is underway and expected to end April 26, 2018. Redaction, per instructions from the White House, is to be made only “by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

In addition to the 2,891 files now available to the public, the full electronic record archive of the Assassination Records Review Board is being made public, including 52,387 emails and 16,627 files from the board’s hard drives.

The entire collection spans some five million pages of related material.

President Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was shot and killed Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas during a parade on a day in which he visited with Texas lawmakers in his party and before he was to make several speeches. President Lyndon B. Johnson later convened the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (informally known as the Warren Commission for its chairman, Justice Earl Warren, then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) to investigate the assassination and determine its culprits and origins.

The Warren Commission concluded, as had also been reported at the time of the assassination, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and that Jack Ruby, who subsequently killed Oswald, also acted alone.

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