The Biden administration on Thursday released another batch of secret government files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 59 years after his murder and more than five years after the documents were originally required by law to be publicly disclosed.
The newly released tranche of files — 13,173 documents — were posted by the National Archives and Records Administration after President Biden issued a memorandum.
“[The] profound national tragedy of President Kennedy’s assassination continues to resonate in American history and in the memories of so many Americans who were alive on that terrible day; meanwhile, the need to protect records concerning the assassination has weakened with the passage of time,” Biden wrote in the memorandum. “It is therefore critical to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency by disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.
”President Kennedy’s assassination — and the subsequent withholding of government documents related to his death — spawned conspiracy theories over nearly six decades, particularly surrounding gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone when he killed the president on Nov. 22, 1963, and there was no conspiracy.
A large number of the documents released Thursday belonged to the CIA. Several focused on Oswald’s movements, his contacts and even whether it was his signature on a visa application for Cuba. Other documents focus on requests from the Warren Commission.
One document, dated June 22, 1962, notes that Oswald was mentioned in a recent Washington Post article as having defected to the Soviet Union — indicating that Oswald was on the CIA’s radar more than a year before the Kennedy assassination occured.
“A former Marine Sgt. of Fort Worth, Texas, who defected to the USSR three years ago, left Moscow recently together with his infant child and Russian-born wife bound for the United States,” the document said.
With Thursday’s release, 95 percent of the documents in the CIA’s JFK assassination records collection will have been released in their entirety, a CIA spokesperson said in a statement, and no documents will remain redacted or withheld in full after “an intensive one-year review” of all previously unreleased information.
“We have made tremendous progress in our review of CIA’s collection of records. We’re talking about over 87,000 documents originally included in the JFK Act collection,” the spokesperson said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the release of the documents.
“CIA believes all of its information known to be directly related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 has already been released,” the spokesperson said.
In an initial review, the documents that were released did not appear to contain explosive new evidence of the decades-old assassination, and sweeping fallout that followed.
Rather, many of the documents appeared to summerize stories referencing the murder that stunned the world, or showed how officials responded to news inquiries (“advising that his scoop may, in fact, be old news.”) At least one document recalled how a low-level government clerk erroneously believed that documents about Oswald had been tampered with.