The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is set to release Thursday nearly 11,200 unredacted versions of documents related to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.
The action is in compliance with President Joe Biden’s executive order to authorize the full release of the documents that have been undisclosed for decades. The order ruled that any information “currently withheld” from the public must be released by Dec. 15.
The order is in connection to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which required that all documents related to the Nov. 22, 1963 assassination “be eventually disclosed” to inform the public on the historic tragedy, unless doing so would threaten national security, intelligence or military defense, according to the executive order.
The deadline under the legislation came to be October 2017, in which then-President Donald Trump released 2,800 of the 3,100 classified documents related to the assassination due to national security concerns. Agencies and executive departments the documents for possible national security threats since 2018, but the act has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the order wrote.
In response, Biden issued a 2021 Memorandum to direct an “intensive 1-year review” of the redactions. The agencies found limited documents that need to remain undisclosed to the public, given that these records are permitted to remain undisclosed for further review. The order directed NARA and other relevant agencies to review these documents until May 1, 2023, and any document requested for non-disclosure beyond June 30, 2023, will be “limited to the absolute minimum.”
“In the 30 years since the Act became law, the profound national tragedy of President Kennedy’s assassination continues to resonate in American history and in the memories of so many Americans who were alive on that terrible day; meanwhile, the need to protect records concerning the assassination has weakened with the passage of time,” the order read. “It is therefore critical to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency by disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.”
Kennedy was fatally shot in the head while riding in an open motorcade in Dallas, Texas, causing the vehicle to rush him to the hospital where medical professionals pronounced him dead, CBS News reported. His death, first announced by former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, devastated the nation. (RELATED: Some JFK Assassination Files Are Being Withheld)
Chief Justice Earl Warren, who conducted an investigation into the assassination, accused former Marine and communist activist Lee Harvey Oswald of opening fire on the president. This accusation has been up to open debate among historians for nearly 60 years. Oswald was fatally shot in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters two days following Kennedy’s death.
A non-profit group called The Mary Ferrell Foundation sued the Biden administration in October for allegedly failing to comply with the October 2017 deadline, CBS reported.