The former government officials and other experts below are among those who have called for full release by the National Archives of still-classified records regarding the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The National Archives' release of an estimated 3,600 still-classified documents scheduled for Oct. 26, 2017 is anticipated as the final step of a process that Congress unanimously enacted by the JFK Records Act of 1992, and implemented by the Assassinations Record Review Board (ARRB), a five-person commission chaired by John Tunheim. On Sept. 30, 1998, it made its final report, passed unanimously and with recommendations excerpted below.
Assassinations Record Review Board (ARRB) Recommendations (1998) (Excerpted):
The Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board provides not only an opportunity to detail the extraordinary breadth and depth of the Board's work to identify and release the records of the tragic death of President John F. Kennedy, but also to reflect on the Board's shared experience in carrying out this mission and the meaning of its efforts for the much larger challenge of secrecy and accountability in the federal government.
The Review Board was created out of the broad public frustration that the federal government was hiding important information about the Kennedy assassination by placing its records beyond the reach of its citizens. Broad disagreement with the Warren Commission findings, explosive claims in the popular movie JFK, and continued deterioration of public confidence in government led to consensus that it was time to open the files.
— The Hon. John R. Tunheim, ARRB chairman (currently Chief U.S. District Judge, Minnesota) and the other ARRB members: Henry F. Graff, Kermit L. Hall, William L. Joyce, and Anna K. Nelson. Details:
October 26, 2017 will mark the 25th anniversary of the JFK Records Act, one of the most successful full disclosure measures in the annals of open government law. We write to ask your support for effective enforcement of the Act now and under the next administration. The JFK Assassination Records Act was approved unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 26, 1992. The Act resulted in the declassification of some 4 million pages of records related to the assassination of President Kennedy. The Act also serves as a model for other open government measures that have made public key chapters in the nation’s history without compromising legitimate secrets. As President Obama said in August, “we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency.”
The JFK Records Collection is now the single most-requested body of records at National Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Scholars, journalists, historians, and students have found these records invaluable for writing the history of the Cold War, Kennedy’s presidency, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Warren Commission, Vietnam, the counterculture, and Watergate. The final test of the law will come on October 26, 2017. That’s when all of the redacted documents in the collection, as well as nearly 3,600 JFK records still withheld in full, are scheduled to be declassified in their entirety. The staff of the National Archives is now preparing for the online release of all material before the statutory deadline, an ambitious goal that we hope will be fulfilled.
One provision of the Act gives federal agencies the right to request continued postponement of JFK records after 2017, if release would result in “identifiable harm” that outweighs the public interest. As authors, historians and investigators, we believe, withholding any portion of any JFK records would result in identifiable harm to the public interest. After 53 years, continuing JFK secrecy would provoke unnecessary suspicion and flout Congress’s clear preference for full disclosure within 25 years of 1992. And it would deny the American people access to portions of our history. We ask you, as White House Counsel, to affirm and uphold the spirit and language of the JFK Records Act, and to instruct all U.S. government agencies to fully release all assassination-related records on or before October 26, 2017.
- Russ Baker, author, lecturer and WhoWhatWhy founder and editor
- G. Robert Blakey (shown at right), attorney, law professor, author, and former general counsel, House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)
- Rex Bradford, Mary Ferrell Foundation president and History Matters founder
- Debra Conway, Publisher, JFK Lancer Events and Productions
- Dan Hardway, attorney and former HSCA investigator
- Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, author, whistleblower, and former RAND researcher
- Douglas Horne, author and former Assassination Records Review Board analyst
- Brian Latell, professor, author, and former CIA Cuba analyst
- James H. Lesar, attorney and president, Assassination Archives & Research Center
- Ed Lopez, attorney, educator and former HSCA investigator
- Dr. Joan Mellen, author and professor
- Jefferson Morley, author and journalist
- Dr. John M. Newman, author, professor and former assistant to the NSA director
- Gerald Posner, author and journalist
- Dick Russell, author and former reporter
- Dr. Larry Sabato, author, professor and historian
- Dr. Peter Dale Scott, author and retired professor and Canadian diplomat
- Philip Shenon, author and former reporter
- Anthony Summers, author and former reporter
- Robbyn Swan, author and former reporter
- David Talbot, author and San Francisco Chronicle columnist
- Howard P. Willens, attorney and former Warren Commission assistant counsel
“I feel very strongly that the more information we release the better. The public has the right to information.”
— Edwin "Ed" Meese, III, The Heritage Foundation's Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, Federalist Society board member, author, and former Reagan administration Attorney General (1985-88)
“I was in charge of arranging the retirement of the records. I have no objection to release.”
— Alfred G. Goldberg, Ph.D. (shown in Department of Defense sketch), Warren Report co-author and co-editor as U.S. Air Force historian, retired Air Force colonel, and World War II Army veteran, and former Chief Historian for the U.S. Secretary of Defense (1973-2007). Also, co-author and / or co-editor of many U.S. Defense Department histories, including “The Army Air Forces in World War II” (7 volumes); “History of the Office of the Secretary of Defense” (5 volumes); and co-author of “Pentagon 9/11” (2007).
“In full compliance with the 1992 JFK Records Act, the government should release all the materials and documents pertaining to the investigation of President Kennedy's assassination. Only after such complete disclosure and opportunity for objective, unbiased analysis of those materials will it be possible for U.S. citizens to believe that justice has been served regarding this tragic event.”
— Cyril H. Wecht, J.D., M.D., forensic pathologist, medical school professor, leader or former leader of multiple professional societies, author or co-author of nearly 50 books, and former Allegheny County coroner for 20 years
“I totally support opening the files.”
— The Hon. Burt W. Griffin, J.D., retired judge and former Warren Commission assistant counsel
“Personally, I have given up on the hunt for the smoking gun, but I also am very much looking forward to this release. We already have the RIF sheets (the metadata including titles, subjects, number of pages, etc. for all 3,571 fully withheld documents). So we have a sense of what to expect. This metadata, along with metadata for the full collection, is now all available and searchable at maryferrell.org, in a project called the ‘JFK Database Explorer.’”
— Rex Bradford, Mary Ferrell Foundation president and History Matters founder
“The public deserves full information on this historic event via release of the still-hidden files.”
— Robert Ames Alden, M.A. (shown at left), former Washington Post night news editor in charge of the post-midnight editing Nov. 22-23, 1963, and later Washington Post World News Editor in a career spanning 1951 to 2000, and former president of the National Press Club, and co-founder and former president of the National Press Foundation
“There is an expectation based in law that all JFK assassination records that have not yet been disclosed will be released later this year. That expectation should be fulfilled, as required.”
— Steven Aftergood, B.S., Director, Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists and former AARB hearing witness
“NARA should release the remaining JFK assassination records and documents no later than October 2017, as the law (JFK Act) requires. This will help answer the remaining questions that the American people still have, and help restore their confidence in our government and its promise of transparency.”
— Michael Nurko, concerned citizen and Citizens Against Political Assassination (CAPA) board member
CAPA, a non-partisan research organization, organized these events and reported them in these articles parallelling coverage here:
- Top Experts To Assess JFK Murder Records, Revelations March 16 In DC
- Speakers For March 16 CAPA Forum On Secret JFK Records
- Experts Seek Legal Compliance By Officials On JFK Records
The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) founded Sunshine Week to foster open government via events like this throughout the nation. For further information, contact Andrew Kreig at andrew @ justice-integrity.org or (202) 638-0070.
Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination
* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series
At right is a photo by this editor in Dallas showing Dealey Plaza. The Texas Book Depository Building where Oswald worked is behind the row of trees. The car in the center lane is near the location of President Kennedy's limo at the time of his fatal shooting.
- Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013.
- Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos, Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films in 2013.
- Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
- Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
- 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,' Nov. 19, 2013.
- Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013.
- JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
- Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. *
- JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Dec. 9, 2013. *
- JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Reactions to our Dec. 9 column.
- Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *
- Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears, May 26, 2014. *
- Experts To Reveal Secrets of JFK Murder, Cover-up at Sept. 26-28 DC Forum , Sept. 5, 2014.
- Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later, Sept. 22, 2014. *
- JFK Experts To Explode Myths, Sign Books In DC Sept. 26-28, Sept. 24, 2014.
- Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing, Sept. 27, 2014. *
- JFK Readers Guide: Assassination Books, Reports, Oct. 15, 2014. *
- Former House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records, Oct. 18, 2014. *
- The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters -- As Does C-SPAN's Coverage, Nov. 11, 2014. *
- JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, Nov. 24, 2014. *
- JFK Assassination Readers Guide To 2013-14 Events, Nov. 28, 2014. *
- CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report, Dec. 1, 2014. *
- Nearly Too Late, Public Learns of Bill Moyers’ Conflicts Over PBS, LBJ, Jan. 2, 2014.
- Why Bill O'Reilly's Lie About JFK's Murder Might Matter To You, March 17, 2015.
- Free Videos Show Shocking Claims About CIA, JFK Murder Probes, June 29, 2015.
- Pioneering Black Secret Service JFK Guard Abraham Bolden Warns Of Current Lessons, July 22, 2015.
- Understanding Hollywood-Style Presidential Propaganda From JFK To Trump, Aug. 18, 2015.
- Beware Of Wrong Conclusions From New CIA Disclosure On Oswald, Sept. 28, 2015.
- The JFK Murder Cover-Up: Your Rosetta Stone To Today’s News, Nov. 29, 2015.
- Austin Kiplinger, David Skorton: Two Civic Giants Going And Coming, Dec. 15, 2015.
- Trump Alleges Rafael Cruz Tie To JFK Murder Suspect Oswald, May 3, 2016.
- Revelations Confirm Proof Of JFK, RFK Murder Cover-ups, Nov. 25, 2016.
- Top Experts To Assess JFK Murder Records, Revelations March 16, March 8, 2017.
- Speaker Program For March 16 Forum On Secret JFK Records, March 8, 2017.
- JFK Experts Advocate Compliance With Records Deadline, March 8, 2017.
- At CAPA Forum, JFK Experts See Need, Momentum For Assassination Records Release, March 23, 2017.