National Archives Denies Request to Release CIA’s JFK Assassination Records

According to an article published on the website, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has refused a request by historical researchers to expedite the release of CIA records relating to its involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

This past January, the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) and other researchers sent a letter to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero asking that the remaining records be released in time for the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination in 2013.

The AARC letter cited President Obama’s Executive Order 13526 mandate for NARA to eliminate the estimated 400 million page backlog awaiting declassification by December 31, 2013. However, the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act) allows for records that were not released by the Assassination Records Review Board (AARB) to remain closed until 2017.

NARA General Counsel Gary M. Stern recently sent a letter to the AARC denying their request for expedited release of the requested records, stating that the CIA had “concluded there are substantial logistical requirements that must take place prior to the release of these remaining records and there is simply not sufficient time or resources to complete these tasks prior to 2017.” In the letter, Stern stated that the only records in the JFK Collection that are still being withheld in full for classification reasons are 1171 CIA documents that the ARRB agreed should not be released until 2017.

Stern also stated that, “because the postponed JFK assassination records have already been subject to a full and complete government-wide declassification review, they are not part of the 400 million page backlog of records that have yet to receive a final review.” As a result, according to Stern, the JFK records do not fall under the December 31, 2013 deadline imposed by the Obama administration’s executive order.

Stern’s letter contradicts a statement made in 2010 at National Declassification Center (NDC) public forum by then-Assistant Archivist for Records Services Michael Kurtz. According to the AARC, at the time Kurtz said that the CIA’s JFK assassination records would be reviewed by the NDC as part of the records scheduled to be released prior to the President’s 2013 deadline. In his letter, Stern said that Dr. Kurtz “misspoke.” Dr. Kurtz retired from NARA in March 2011.