JFK remains in the shade during Sunshine Week

This is Sunshine Week in America, dedicated to bringing the issues of secrecy and open government before the American people and the government. It’s time for Sunshine Week to shine its light on the still-classified records on the assassination of President Kennedy. I have been trying to do so since 2002 with little success.

Why advocates of open government shy from the JFK story is an important and interesting question.

The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors launched Sunshine Sunday in 2002. In June 2003, the American Society of Newspaper Editors hosted a Freedom of Information Summit in Washington where the seeds for Sunshine Week were planted. Sunshine Week began in March 2005 with a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The non-partisan, non-profit initiative is about the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why.

While the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been rightly touted at previous Sunshine Week forums, this year is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy and the 20th anniversary of the JFK Act of 1992, which forced the release of more records (4 million pages) than any other single law.

Although Kennedy’s assassination remains a topic of wide public interest, and the JFK Records Act is a landmark in open government law, many journalists, historians and civil activists greet the mention of the secret records on the Kennedy assassination with silent dismay, if not moans of protests and rolling of the eyes. For these people, the JFK story is akin to popular interest in UFOs and other amusing irrationalities.

Actually, the legally unresolved and unsolved homicide of the President, as Jim Hougan has pointed out, is an issue of national security of the first order — there is no other matter more significant than the murder of the president — it is the key political and historical issue of our time.

JFK records are also a live issue in full disclosure law. The JFK Records Act, passed unanimously in 1992, is no longer being enforced. Since the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) dissolved in 1998, its recommendations have gone unheeded, especially the one requesting that the historical and archival associations that recommended them continue to conduct oversight of the law. Congress has failed to hold any oversight hearings on the JFK Act in over 15 years and shows no inclination to do so.

Sunshine Week and the approaching 50th anniversary of the assassination offer an opportunity to shift discussion from the Single Bullet Theory, the Zapruder film and other minutiae of the crime, to the larger and more relevant issue of governmental secrecy. If there is any body of government records that demands the sunshine of disclosure it is the government’s still-secret JFK assassination records.

Open government advocates may not know it but many important Pentagon and Secret Service files related to JFK’s death were destroyed rather than revealed publicly. Some are missing — including the original recording of communications between Air Force One and other government agencies on November 22, 1963. More than 1,100 CIA records related to the assassination are still classified and could be withheld for ever, at least for our lifetime. These include files of CIA officers who had pre-assassination knowledge of the travels, politics and contacts of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

If the JFK was killed by a deranged lone nut, why are so many records from 1963 considered so significant in 2012? Why were records destroyed? Who ordered their destruction? Where are the Air Force One tapes? Why can’t they be found? Why are so many CIA documents about undercover officers with pre-assassination knowledge of Lee Harvey Oswald classified for reasons of national security? Why doesn’t Congress oversee the JFK Records Act? Why don’t they hold public hearings on these issues and get answers to these questions?

These are questions that the organizers of Sunshine Week need to take up.

What can you do to convince them to act?

Sign the petition to Free the JFK files and pass it on to others you know.

Write a letter to your Congressman, especially if they are on the House Oversight Committee , and ask them why they don’t hold public oversight hearings of the JFK Act? Then email it, post it on their Facebook page as well as your Congressman’s page, fax it to their home and DC offices and then email it by US Mail with a request for a response.

Join our Facebook Focus Group, Release JFK Assassination Records Now!


  1. terry kelly says:

    I have watched the film and numerous documentaries and read books on the subject, and iam curious as what type of weapon would be considered the best choice of at that time for a marksman to use? Would a silencer be used?

    • Bill Clarke says:

      Interesting. Probably out of effective range for Double Ought Buckshot so scratch the shotgun.

      Charles Harrelson used a Weatherby .240 Magnum to kill Hanging Judge John Woods at a good distance best I remember. This was a nice choice of weapon but a bit pricey.

      Both Winchester and Remington made excellent production rifles at the time in numerous calibers. I’d probably go with the .243 to reduce recoil so as to acquire the target for a second and third shot easier. You could probably rig one up with a good scope for around $150 bucks in 1963. Or find a good one in a pawn shop for a lot less.

      The prototype of the M-16 was floating around and of course it would have been a good choice. But it would cause too many questions to be asked since they were not available commercially at the time.

      Negative on the silencer in 1963 I think because of lack of availability. We now have these “sound suppressors” one can get on a rifle but I have no experience with these.

      It would be very difficult to silence a rifle because it burns so much more powder than the pistols you see that are silencer equipped. A lot of pistols burn only 6 or 7 (or even less)grains of powder while the Winchester .270 rifle round uses 55 to 60 grains of powder.

  2. “Journalists” are hiding their heads in the sand. Just like they did back in 1963. What a shame.

  3. BobTruitt says:

    The 1968 release of the rock group Steppenwolf’s song “The Pusher” is what I think about when I read these type of stories. The CIA is “the pusher” who will sell to you (America) sweet dreams(promises of safety) and hard drugs like heroin (torture, murder, lies)-a monster who doesn’t care if you live (if you ever see the files or know the truth) or if you die.

    John Kaye the singer continues,
    God damn the pusher,
    God damn, God damn the pusher,
    I say “God damn, God, God damn the pusher man”.

    Lord if I were the President of this land,
    You know I would declare total war on the pusher man.
    I’d cut him if he stands, I’d shoot him if he runs,
    And I’d kill them with my bible, and my razor and my gun
    God damn oh the pusher
    God damn the pusher
    I say “God damn, God damn the pusher man”.

    President Kennedy said he was going to smash the CIA into a 1000 pieces. They got to him before he got to them. God damn.

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