21 October, 2017|Jim Lesar, President of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), issued the following statement:
The AARC congratulates President Donald J. Trump on announcing in a tweet today that as President he will allow the release of JFK-assassination records to go forward as provided by the JFK Act which Congress unanimously passed in 1992. President Trump’s decision is correct, and it rightly attributes the prolonged blockage to Executive Branch agencies, particularly the CIA, when Congress mandated such information to be released as promptly as possible.
While President Trump’s tweet contains a possible face-saving out, conditioning such release on the “receipt of further information,” Lesar pointed out that these agencies and the National Archives have had 25 years to produce such information, they have not done so. Post hoc justifications to further delay release are not warranted in light of the clear congressional mandate requiring full disclosure by October 26, 2017. Lesar noted that the release has the support of both political parties, as both Sen. Charles Grassley and Sen. Patrick Leahy, Senate Judiciary Committee leaders, have introduced legislation endorsing release of the records.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Walter B. Jones and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley are calling for full public disclosure of documents pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Today, Jones and Grassley introduced companion resolutions to accomplish just that. The first, H. Res. 556 in the House and S. Res. 281 in the Senate, calls on the President of the United States to allow the release of all remaining documents currently held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and reject any efforts to postpone their release. The second, H. Res. 557 and S. Res. 282, commends NARA and its employees for working to release those records by October 26, 2017, the date established by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
“To me, the tragedy that took place in Dallas continues to raise many questions that go unanswered,” said Jones. “After 54 years, there is no reason, for the sake of honesty and integrity in America, that the facts of the JFK assassination should not be made public. Virgil once said, ‘Evil is nourished and grows by concealment.’ It’s time to reveal what happened that awful afternoon in 1963.”
“Transparency in government is critical not only to ensuring accountability; it’s also essential to understanding our nation’s history. The assassination of President Kennedy occurred at a pivotal time for our nation, and nearly 54 years later, we are still learning the details of how our government responded and what it may have known beforehand. Americans deserve a full picture of what happened that fateful day in November 1963. Shining a light on never-before-seen government records is essential to filling in these blank spaces in our history,” Grassley said.
“I am proud to cosponsor Chairman Grassley’s resolutions calling on the Trump Administration to publicly disclose all government records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – as required by a 1992 law authored by my good friend, the late Senator John Glenn,” responded Senator Patrick Leahy, Senate cosponsor. “The assassination of President Kennedy was one of the most shocking and tragic events in our nation’s history. Americans have the right to know what our government knows. Transparency is crucial for our country to fully reckon with this national tragedy, and that is the purpose of these resolutions. Chairman Grassley and I both believe that a government of, by, and for the people simply cannot be one that needlessly hides information from them, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to make our democracy ever more transparent to the American people.”
“Twenty-five years ago, both Houses of Congress unanimously passed a bill mandating that these records would be released this month. It is time for the National Archives to do what it was directed to do and release these documents,” said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, an original cosponsor.
Several academics with research interests in the life of President Kennedy are also calling on the release of all classified documents.
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2 October, 2017 © 2017 – Malcolm Blunt
The CIA Historical Collections Division (HRP) for all of it’s faults was by the agency’s standards a beacon of light as far as declassification is concerned. In 2011 I was fortunate to meet CIA Review Program staffers at NARA, College Park, MD, and at the Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina. At these venues they were presenting packages of historical documents and one was able ask them questions one on one. Of course, I was concerned about the 2017 releases and Miss L., a senior HRP officer, told me point blank that CIA was going to appeal to the president on many documents, adding and emphasizing, “in my opinion, some of that stuff should never be released.” Miss L. felt strongly that out of all of the intelligence agencies working to comply with the ARCA, CIA had done the most in the way of releasing previously redacted documents. I have to say that to a large extent she was correct.
The Historical Collections Division is the latest casualty of sequester cuts. The office handling Freedom of Information Act requests will take over the work. — The Los Angeles Times | 21 August, 2013
In relation to the dearth of releases from ONI, DIA and NSA, CIA did a hell of a lot, and looking at CIA’s internal admin files (so called Project Files) the Historical Collections Division (HRP) was trying to work within the spirit of the ARCA. One can see they had major difficulties with other CIA components like the Directorate of Operations who were strongly against letting go of some documents.
The people I met seemed genuinely interested in declassifying more documents and recognized the historical importance of their task. In 2013 this short period of CIA openness came to an abrupt end due to Washington politicians squabbling about budget issues and threatening to shut down the government (sequestration???). At that time competing forces within CIA sensed an opportunity to neutralize this “problem child” (the HCD/HRP) by closing the division down using the excuse “for budgetary reasons.” So the one part of CIA which was actually doing a good job found itself “consolidated” within IMS (Information Management Services), the part of CIA which handles FOIA’s or should I say mishandles FOIA’s; an outfit which has successfully stonewalled many researchers over the years. So once again the agency (CIA) shoots itself in the foot; we all lost what could have developed into a much improved situation on document releases and CIA lost a real opportunity to project itself in a more positive light.