Court Battles

Biden, Archives sued over JFK assassination records

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A nonprofit that curates an online collection of John F. Kennedy’s assassination records sued President Biden and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on Wednesday to demand the release of all remaining materials on the former president’s 1963 killing.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation and two of its members filed the suit in a Northern California federal trial court, asking a judge to throw out Biden’s order last year to postpone the records’ release.

Federal officials have already released thousands of records related to Kennedy’s assassination, but George H.W. Bush signed the JFK Records Act in 1992 directing agencies to identify related records and send them to NARA and requiring that all such records be released by Oct. 2017, unless the documents posed certain risks to national defense or intelligence.

On the eve of that deadline, former President Trump postponed the release of an unspecified number of records for six months, and he later issued an additional extension that stood in place until Biden took office.

Biden last October issued an additional extension until Dec. 15 of this year, citing the pandemic’s impact on the National Archives’s ability to review the records. 

The lawsuit asks the judge to declare Biden’s memo void for violating the 1992 law.

“The unlawful postponement of Assassination Records by Defendant President Biden deprives Plaintiffs from becoming fully informed about the history surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in contravention of the express goals of the Act,” the suit states.

At the time of the extension, the president directed NARA to complete a one-year review of all requests from various agencies to postpone a record’s release and make recommendations to the White House.

The National Archives last December released nearly 1,500 previously classified documents pertaining to the assassination that agencies had not opposed making public.

Regarding the other remaining records, a National Archives spokesperson on Wednesday said the agency has now completed its review but did not indicate how many records it recommended be kept private.

“NARA and the pertinent agencies have conducted both a document-level review and a redaction-level review of information not yet released under section 5 of the Act, and NARA has made its recommendations to the president,” the spokesperson said. “The results of those reviews will be made public in December, in accordance with the memo.”

The White House didn’t have anything to share on the lawsuit when asked for a response to it on Wednesday.

Kennedy’s nephews have pressured the Biden administration to release the records.

“It’s an outrage against American democracy,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told Politico last October following Biden’s extension. “We’re not supposed to have secret governments within the government. How the hell is it 58 years later, and what in the world could justify not releasing these documents?”

Tags assassination Biden JFK JFK Joe Biden Joe Biden John F. Kennedy John F. Kennedy John F. Kennedy assassination National Archives National Archives National Archives and Records Administration Trump
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