Four Points About Biden’s Decision on the JFK Files

Peter writes:

Thanks for making yourself accessible.  I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts on Biden following Trump and continuing to withhold classification?  Stay well and all the best.

Thanks Peter. The only good news in President Biden’s October 22 letter is the announcement that the National Archives plans to digitize the entire JFK collection, which is welcome and overdue. In the digital age, the Mary Ferrell Foundation says the full record of JFK’s assassination should be available to anybody anywhere.

Otherwise, I have four observations for the press and the interested public on the 58th anniversary of JFK’s death.

The CIA Fears Full JFK Disclosure

The CIA’s given excuse for delay–the covid dog ate my homework–is lame. As I told the Washington Post, the delay in releasing files until December 2022 at the earliest is an Agency gambit to delay full disclosure of the CIA’s JFK files forever. Evading the requirements of the JFK Records Act for the second time in four years betrays the Agency’s deep worry about compliance.

Evading Compliance Is Evidence of Complicity

I agree with Professor James Galbraith, that the latest CIA’s delay is strong evidence that the Agency is hiding complicity of Agency personnel in Kennedy’s death. The genuine national security material in the files that is not JFK-related comprises only tiny portion of the 15,000-plus document that remain redacted. The rest of the documents are either exculpatory, irrelevant, or incriminating. If the documents were only exculpatory or irrelevant the CIA could and would release them with pride. Therefore, I can only conclude some of the files are incriminating.

What They’re Hiding

For The Intercept, I identify some key redacted documents that should, by law, be released immediately. Ever since November 22, 1963, the CIA has guarded most closely JFK files related to 1) Castro assassination plots; 2) CIA activities in Miami and New Orleans; 3) surveillance techniques used to monitor Oswald; and 4) propaganda operations around Oswald before and after November 22. The same pattern of obfuscation is seen the still-redacted records.

The Limits of Presidential Power

Like Donald Trump before him, Joe Biden does not want to harm his current relationship with the CIA over a historical matter. With the CIA’s reputation (and budget) on the line, top Agency officials will not accept full JFK disclosure under any circumstances. The president cannot compel the Agency to obey the JFK Records Act without alienating his national security partners. Absent countervailing public or congressional pressure, the president has to go with the Agency’s flow.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top