Campaign: Making Data More Accessible

Empower the National Archives and Records Adminstration to enforce the JFK Records Act

The JFK Records, passed unanimously by Congress in 1992, was a landmark in open government. To quell controversy about the causes of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the Congress mandated that the government release all assassination-related records in its position. The Congress also created an independent Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) to insure compliance with the law. The ARRB did an excellent job in reviewing and releasing more than 4 million pages of long-secret records related to JFK's murder.

 

These records, written up in books such as David Kaiser's "The Road to Dallas," John Newman's "Oswald and the CIA," David Talbot's "Brothers," Gus Russo's "Live By the Sword," Lamar Waldon's "Ultimate Sacrifice," and Joan Mellen's "Farewell to Justice,", have contributed greatly not only to public understanding of the the assassination, and its confused investigatory aftermath but also to the history of the Kennedy administration and its policies on Cuba, Vietnam, organized crime, and civil rights.

 

Unfortunately, the ARRB went out of existence in 1998. Responsibility for insuring enforcement of the act was transferred to the National Archives and Record Administration which, through no fault of its own, cannot enforce the law. Without the existence of an independent board specifically empowered to enforce the Act, NARA is unable to compel government agencies (with much bigger budgets and congressional clout) to review and release new JFK records as their existence becomes known to journalists, scholars and researchers.

 

As a result, records that meet the statutory definiton of "assassination-related" remain secret in defiance of the intent of Congress and the will of the people.

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Idea No. 628