WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump allowed on Wednesday the publication of 2,800 documents on the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy that had been classified to date, but he ordered others kept secret after pressure from the FBI and the CIA.
Trump ordered his team to review the retained or censured documents over the coming six months and decide by April 26, 2018, whether or not to release them, and it is possible that more could be released after that point, top US officials said.
“Executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns,” the president said in a memo.
“I have no choice – today – but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security,” Trump added.
“To further address these concerns, I am also ordering agencies to re-review each and every one of those redactions over the next 180 days,” he went on to say, noting that “At the end of that period, I will order the public disclosure of any information that the agencies cannot demonstrate meets the statutory standard for continued postponement of disclosure.”
Trump said that the US public expects and deserves the greatest access possible to the archives on that historical event, but that, of the 3,100 documents held in the National Archives, some information must remain classified for the time being due to national security concerns if it were to be released.
One of the officials who spoke with reporters confirmed that the “great majority” of the requests to keep certain documents secret came from the FBI and CIA.
Those agencies have expressed concern that the documents in question might expose the identity of certain still-living individuals and their role as informants in a security or intelligence investigation.
Some 88 percent of the records linked to the Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy assassination have been publicly available since the late 1990s, and an additional 11 percent of the documents have been released with redactions since then.
The documents released on Thursday include some of the remaining files and some redacted portions of documents released earlier.
The National Archives was scheduled to publish on Thursday on its Web page the declassified documents in compliance with a 1992 law.