A tranche of once-Secret documents related to the investigation into the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas was released Wednesday.
The documents, 1,491 of them, are no longer classified and were published on The National Archives and Records Administration's website in accordance with an Oct. 22, 2021 memo from President Joe Biden.
Biden’s memo, titled Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Temporary Certification Regarding Disclosure of Information in Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, called for releasable assassination-related records to be made available to the public by Dec. 15, 2021.
The NARA archivist, however, citing the pandemic's impact on productivity, asked for more time to verify redactions in the documents. The archivist recommended the documents be broken up into two groups -- one group released this year and another group released a year from now.
Get DFW local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC DFW newsletters.
So, what was released Wednesday is not the large document dump that assassination investigators may have been hoping for, but it is more evidence to comb through. Whether or not there's a smoking gun among the filings remains to be seen.
The release of previously withheld documents began nearly 30 years ago when Congress passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. It was then that Congress declared that “all Government records concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy … should be eventually disclosed to enable the public to become fully informed about the history surrounding the assassination.”
At the time, Congress found “most of the records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are almost 30 years old, and only in the rarest cases is there any legitimate need for the continued protection of such records.”
The latest news from around North Texas.
Now, nearly three decades after the JFK Records Collection Act and 58 years since the assassination, Biden wrote in his October memo "the need to protect records concerning the assassination has only grown weaker with the passage of time."
The president's memo calls for documents to be released to the public so long as their release does not cause "identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations."
After the most recent data dump, reportedly 15,000 documents remain shrouded in secrecy. A comprehensive release of assassination-related documents is expected in late 2022 and only those identified as having the potential to cause "identifiable harm" are expected to be reserved.