Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen and California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo have sent a letter to the Public Interest Declassification Board attempting to secure the release of the remaining documents associated with the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In the letter, the lawmakers argued that the public is skeptical about the official version of events and that the documents’ release would help “restore confidence through transparency.”
“Since the assassination of President Kennedy, public debate regarding the truth of the events of that day has persisted. In the intervening years, many close to the case have expressed concern and cast doubt on the conclusions of the Warren Commission, including President Lyndon B. Johnson, who himself established the Commission to investigate this tragedy,” the letter states.
The letter, which was also signed by Reps. Jamie Raskin and Tim Burchett, says that according to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), there are still over 14,800 records that have not been made available to the public.
“These concerns and the remaining unreleased trove of documents have furthered public skepticism regarding the facts of the assassination, with nearly 61 percent of Americans in 2017 believing there to have been a conspiracy in President Kennedy’s murder,” the letter notes.
The lawmakers pointed out that under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, also known as the “JFK Act,” federal agencies were meant to process and release the documents, if not subject to an exemption, by October 26, 2017.
“Although former President Trump extended this deadline to April 26, 2018, and then October 26, 2021, agencies are still claiming they need more time to process and release documents, particularly because of the burden of the pandemic,” the letter continued. “These extensions, however, have given the relevant federal agencies an extra two and a half years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and two and a half years during the pandemic to process, evaluate, and release the relevant records.”
Given the initial 25-year timeline and the recent extensions, the members of Congress argued, “it is unacceptable to use the pandemic as a reason to further delay the release of these documents.”
Nearly one year ago, on November 3, 2021, Cohen, Eshoo, and Raskin sent President Joe Biden a letter with concerns about his decision to postpone the release yet again. They explained that this extension was “nearly 58 years after this tragedy, 29 years after the enactment of the JFK Act, and five years after the JFK Act’s initial deadline.”
In the letter to Biden, the lawmakers wrote, “it is our hope that you take this opportunity to exercise the authority vested in you to restore public trust in our government by promoting transparency. We have waited for over 50 years for the release of these documents, and time is of the essence.”
The lawmakers ended their plea to the Public Interest Declassification Board with a similar conclusion.
“The release of this information is long overdue, and we request that you encourage the Biden Administration to take this important step to promote transparency and restore public trust,” the letter said.