The Public Interest Declassificaton Board is an office within the National Archives that was created by Congress to advise the president on secrecy and declassification issue. The PIDB is supposed to act as a counterweight to secret government agencies. It doesn’t have much real power but it does constitute a presence that other agencies have to take into account.
And its members have written a letter to President BIden about the last of the JFK assassination files.
The board, appointed by President Trump, advocates “maximum public release” of JFK files by October 26, 2021, as mandated by an order issued by President Trump four years ago.
The statement is not as strong as advocates of full JFK disclosure wished. In the letter to Biden, the Board unanimously recommended that Biden “limit any further postponements of public disclosures of the Kennedy assassination records to the absolute minimum.” But the board also reported that federal agencies are likely to request that postponing the release of more than 12,000 of the 15,000-plus JFK records that contain redacted material.
So the PIDB already know that postponement will be maximal, not minimal. The JFK Record Act requires the government to present “clear and convincing evidence” of an “identifiable harm.” That seems unlikely to happen but the Board is giving the rest of the government a pass that is not warranted by law.
Read the PIDB’s letter to President Biden here.
Over the past eight months, the PIDB has received many letters and comments from the public on the continued postponement of the release of these records; the writers stressed their interest in seeing them declassified and released to the public, as the JFK Act intended. As the President contemplates whether to approve the agencies’ requests, the PIDB felt it important to add its voice by advocating for the declassification of as much information as possible.