‘Less Than 1 Percent’ of CIA Records on JFK Assassination Still Withheld

WASHINGTON (CN) — Some of the nearly 3,000 newly released declassified records on the Kennedy assassination will remain under wraps for at least six months pending review, but the CIA said Thursday night that “every single one” of its records will be unveiled eventually, with “less than 1 percent” of the information redacted.

The “targeted redactions” will be reviewed by intelligence agencies for national security or foreign affairs concerns, a White House spokesperson told reporters on a conference call Thursday night.

Requests to redact or postpone release some of the files came from the FBI and the CIA, the White House official said.

The documents are available on the National Archive’s website. .

The CIA’s concerns led President Trump to Thursday night that he had “no choice” but to withhold some of the records.

The remaining records will be processed on a rolling basis by the National Archives.
Martha Murphy, head of the Special Access and Freedom of Information Act department at the National Archives would not speak to the content of the documents Thursday night.

Asked if she could verify the veracity of Donald Trump’s assertion on the campaign trail that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father had a hand in Kennedy’s murder, Murphy said she could not.

“It’s the practice of the archives to allow researchers to make their own determination on the significance of the files,” she said.

During review of the remaining documents, any proposed redactions will be made “in the rarest of circumstances,” the National Archives said in a news release Thursday evening.

Roughly 30,000 documents, including those with redactions, had been released to the public before Thursday.

The 2,891 documents withheld until Thursday have fueled more than 50 years of conspiracy theories.

Phil Shenon, an investigative journalist and author of “A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination,” said he didn’t think the final release would ever satisfy conspiracy theorists.

“We’ll never be rid of conspiracy theories about the assassination,” Shenon said. “And I understand, completely, why so many conspiracy theories emerged, some of them very logical, if unsupported.”

He continued: “It is very clear that the CIA and FBI tried to hide information from the Warren Commission, about how much they knew before the assassination about [Lee Harvey] Oswald, and the commission itself rushed the investigation and left many questions unanswered, especially about Oswald’s trip to Mexico City.”

It will take researchers weeks to comb through the documents. It is generally expected that the documents will provide insight into how the CIA and FBI worked together on the investigation.

The CIA spokesperson said via email Thursday night that “every single one of the … remaining CIA records in the collection will ultimately be released, with no document withheld in full. While some of these … records currently contain targeted redactions, the information redacted represents less than 1 percent of the total CIA information in the collection.”

After the CIA issued a declassified report on the Warren Commission, concluding that former CIA Director John McCone withheld information about the assassination so he could control the dialogue, Shenon said, his research led him to information on one FBI informant’s run-in with Fidel Castro.

In an interview with NPR, Shenon said that Castro told an informant that Oswald had strolled into a Cuban or Soviet Embassy in Mexico City and announced his plan to kill Kennedy.

Despite the wildness and lack of foundation of some conspiracy theories, Shenon said, it’s understandable that suspicions will remain when the government publishes redacted documents.

“Americans are right to wonder why, 54 years later, there is still any information held back about the murder of their president. I’ve always believed that the government, at long last, needs to show complete transparency about a turning point in our history,” he said.

Shenon said he found “great irony” in the fact that the records are being released under the Trump administration.

“Donald Trump has traded in conspiracy theories all his adult life,” he said. “Including one about JFK.”

Also ironic, Shenon said, is that without Oliver Stone’s “ultimate conspiracy movie,” “JFK,” in 1991, Congress might never have passed the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

Without the film, the final release could have been kept under seal until 2029 under the original terms of the records collection act, he said.

The Assassination Records Review Board conceded this in 1998, saying in a statement that while Stone’s movie was largely fictional, the “information that Stone conveyed in the movie’s closing trailer was true: the House Select Committee on Assassinations had reinvestigated the murder and issued a provocative report, but their records were sealed [until 2029.] Stone suggested at the end of JFK that Americans could not trust official public conclusions when those conclusions had been made in secret.”

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