If you’re interested in freedom of information and/or the JFK story, you’ll want to read this letter from New York attorney Larry Schnapf on the disposition of the last of the government’s JFK assassination files in October 2021.
Addressed to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Schnapf’s letter points out that the JFK Records Act, passed unanimously by Congress in 1992, is being flouted by the CIA, FBI, and other government agencies.
Despite the fact that thousands of assassination records continue to be withheld for alleged national security reasons and the agencies requesting postponement have failed to identify the specific harm posed by each postponed record or how these harms outweigh the public interest in disclosure, the Committee has not conducted any hearings or conducted any investigation to determine if the continued withholding of records complies with the JFK Act much less if the postponements have been based on “clear and convincing evidence.”
Are JFK assassination files really still secret 58 years after the fact?
Yes. According to the National Archives, the exact figure is 15,834 assassination-related files are partially or fully redacted as of February 2021. The vast majority of these are held by CIA and FBI.
The JFK Records Act of 1992 mandated that all JFK files be made public by October 26, 2017. Thanks to President Trump, CIA director Mike Pompeo and FBI director Christopher Wray, enforcement of the Act was delayed four years.
Now President Biden has to decide by October 26, 2021 which, if any, CIA and FBI files related to the assassination of President Kennedy must be made public. Biden will undoubtedly turn to his choice for CIA director, William Burns, for advice.
In anticipation of Biden’s decision. Schapf asks Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to hold hearings on the enforcement of the JFK Records Act.
Schnapf makes four points that seem factually indisputable to me.
- The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has jurisdiction;
- Both the House and Senate have adopted resolutions calling for full JFK disclosure;
- Continued withholding of JFK files violates the open government directives of President Obama;
- Public interest calls for full JFK disclosure.
What You Can Do for Full JFK Disclosure?
You can read Schnapf’s letter here. The legal arguments can be complex. To understand the state of JFK files in 2021, it is worth understanding the details.
You share this link to Schnapf’s letter via social media and email.
Write to Rep. Maloney and your own member of Congress. Urge them both to support oversight hearings on the JFK Records Act.