Monday marks the 58th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on the streets of Dallas. It is time for the government to reveal all it has on this event.
According to the National Archives website, the government holds more than 5 million pages of documents, photographs, films, sound recordings and artifacts, or about 2,000 cubic feet of material. A little less than 16,000 documents remain at least partially classified. Most of them were generated by the CIA and FBI, according to New York University Law School’s Just Security think tank. They include contemporary reports, interview notes, files from CIA officers who knew the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and interviews conducted by congressional investigators.
Last month, the White House announced it was delaying the release of these remaining documents, citing delays due to the pandemic. In a puzzling twist perfectly suited to the JFK case, a 1,600-word White House memo quotes but does not name David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, who said that “making these decisions is a matter of requires a professional, scholar and orderly process; not hasty decisions or releases.
Haste? Barely. If 16,000 documents had been loaded onto a Saturn V rocket the day the Warren Commission released its report in 1964 and launched into the skies, they would have already been delivered 12.5 billion kilometers, well outside our solar system. . Linking the word “haste” to these archives is like writing science fiction.
We doubt that there are any bombs pending in these documents. There may be revelations of suspicion surrounding Oswald before the assassination, or even evidence that he had been in contact with intelligence agents, a possibility that has long aroused conspiracy theorists. But there is probably nothing that will substantially change the tragic and confusing narrative as we know it.
But if the release of these records is not important in setting the record straight for America, it certainly is for Dallas.
Our town has lived with the stain of Kennedy’s death long enough. It haunts our politics. It colors our reputation around the world. It attracts crazy people to Dealey Plaza. Every president who has visited us since then has thought about that day, and all the crazy people with a quick fix theory have wondered what the government is holding back.
Will the publication of the last 16,000 documents put an end to the conspiracies? No. Will it change this part of our city’s past? Of course not. But that will close at least another chapter in the sordid story. In our book, Washington could afford a little more haste in this regard.