One of the issues the newly elected president of the United States is likely to face is whether to continue the decades-long secrecy and concealment of records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That’s because the new president will have the legal authority to order the continued concealment of thousands of pages of CIA records relating to the assassination that are scheduled to be released in October 2017.
Under the law, the CIA has the legal authority to ask the president to continue the concealment of the records on grounds of “national security.” While we don’t yet know whether the CIA intends to pursue that route, in my opinion it’s a virtual certainty that it will.
In the aftermath of the assassination, the national-security branch of the federal government — i.e., the CIA and the Pentagon — went to tremendous efforts to suppress and conceal matters relating to the assassination, much of which did not come out until decades later.
Consider, for example, the autopsy that the U.S. military conducted on President Kennedy’s body. The military required participants in the autopsy to sign oaths of secrecy and made them promise to take what they had witnessed to the grave. Participants were told that if they ever violated their written oaths, they would be severely punished through court martial or criminal prosecution.
When evidence regarding the autopsy later began surfacing, the popular position was that the military physicians who performed the autopsy were simply incompetent.
But then came the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, which was enacted in 1992 — 29 years after the assassination. It mandated an end to the long-time secrecy that federal agencies, especially the military and the CIA, had maintained with respect to the Kennedy assassination. The enforcement agency for the act was called the Assassination Records Review Board.
Why was that law enacted? It was because of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK. At the end of that movie, which posited that the U.S. national-security establishment had assassinated Kennedy as part of its Cold War regime-change operations, there was a small blurb informing people about the continued concealment of JFK-assassination-related records.
That blurb generated such an enormous outburst of public outrage that Congress was forced to pass a mandatory disclosure law and President George H.W. Bush was forced to sign the act into law.