White House delays release of JFK assassination files; cites ‘identifiable harm’

The Biden administration announced Friday that it will delay the release of classified documents related to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.

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President Joe Biden said the national archivist needs more time for a review of the records, which was slowed by the pandemic.

According to Biden’s statement, the delay was “necessary to protect against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations” and that those concerns outweigh “the public interest in immediate disclosure.”

The White House released the statement just before 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Some of the files were to be released Tuesday. Instead, the statement read, the files will be released in two batches: one that will be released before the end of this year and one that will be released next year.

Two of Kennedy’s nephews, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., are urging the administration to release all the records related to the 1963 assassination, Politico reports.

“I think for the good of the country, everything has to be put out there so there’s greater understanding of our history,” Patrick Kennedy said.

Robert Kennedy had a stronger reaction.

“It’s an outrage against American democracy,” Robert Kennedy said. “‘How the hell is it 58 years later, and what in the world could justify not releasing these documents?”

It is not the first time the release of the documents has been delayed. In 2017, President Donald Trump postponed the release for four years.

Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in the killing. Oswald was shot and killed two days later as he was being transferred from the Dallas city jail to the county jail facility, ending the possibility of him standing trial for the shooting.

A commission was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to look into the assassination. The commission, headed by then-U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that Oswald acted alone in assassinating John F. Kennedy. The Warren Report did not come up with a motive for Oswald’s action.

In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations found a “high probability that two gunmen fired” at John Kennedy and that he “was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.”