Jeremy Gunn, Executive Director
Thomas Samoluk, Associate Director for Research and
Eileen Sullivan, Associate Director for
Tracy Shycoff, Associate Director for Administration
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The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records
Collection Act was enacted by the Congress and signed into law by
President George Bush on October 26, 1992. The law states, "All
government records concerning the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy should carry a presumption of immediate disclosure."
The law mandates that all assassination-related
materials be house in a single collection in the National Archives and
Records Administration (NARA).
The Act defines five categories of information for
which disclosure may be postponed, including national security,
intelligence gathering, and privacy--provided there is "clear and
convincing evidence" of some harm which outweighs public disclosure.
The law requires all federal agencies to make an
initial assessment of whether they possess records relating to the
assassination. The agencies themselves will conduct an initial review to
determine whether their records may be disclosed immediately, or whether
disclosure should be postponed. They agencies must then give all records
that are not disclosed to the Review Board. The Review Board will then
evaluate all agency decisions to postpone the release of records. Once
the Board completes its review of an agency's recommendation for
postponement, all records, including those that have a postponed release
date, will be transferred to NARA. The Act requires that all
assassination records must be opened by 2017, with the exception of
records certified for continued postponement by the President.
Authority of the Assassination Records Review
The Senate report of the President John F. Kennedy
Assassination Records Collection act of 1992 stated that "the underlying
principles guiding the legislation are independence, public confidence,
efficiency, and cost effectiveness." In order to achieve these
objectives, the Act gave the board the specific powers to:
direct government offices to provide identification
aids and organize assassination records;
direct government offices to transmit assassination records to the
obtain assassination records that have been identified and organized
by a government office;
direct government offices to investigate the facts, additional
information, records, or testimony from individuals which the Board
has reason to believe is required;
request the Attorney general to subpoena private persons to compel
testimony, records and other relevant information;
require any government office in writing for the destruction of any
records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy;
receive information from the public regarding the identification and
public disclosure of assassination records; and
hold hearings, administer oaths, and subpoena witnesses and documents.
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Background and Need for
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was
assassinated while traveling in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. His tragic
death, and the subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president's
alleged assassin, led to the creation of the Warren Commission, seven
days after the assassination.
Amid continuing public doubts that all of the facts
surrounding the assassination had not come to light, the House of
Representatives established the House Select Committee on Assassinations
in 1976 to reopen the investigation.
In addition to these two major federal investigations
devoted to the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy,
three other federal investigatory bodies have dealt with the
assassination to some degree. President Ford created The Rockefeller
Commission in 1975 to investigate Central Intelligence Agency activities
within the United states. Part of the Commission's efforts related to
the Kennedy assassination. Also in 1975, Congress created the Senate
Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to
Intelligence Activities (the Church Committee) and the House Select
Committee on Intelligence (the Pike Committee). Some of the work of
these committees was related to the assassination.
Despite these official investigations, and with
private researchers continuing their efforts, the public was not
satisfied that all of their questions about the assassination of
President Kennedy had been answered. The result was the passage of The
President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992,
which included the creation of the Assassination Records Review Board.
the Review Board
Through October, 1996, the Review Board had acted to
transfer nearly 10,000 to the National Archives and Records
Administration for inclusion in the JFK Collection. At the end of 1996,
that collection totaled approximately 3.1 million pages.
Related to the Assassination -- By the end of
1997, the Review board will have reviewed and processed nearly all of
the assassination records that have been identified by federal agencies,
with the important exceptions of the FBI and CIA. The overwhelming
majority of previously redacted information will have been made public.
These Records Include:
Thousands of CIA documents on Lee Harvey Oswald and
the assassination of President Kennedy that make up the CIA's Oswald
Thousands of once-secret records from the investigation of the House
Select Committee on Assassinations, including the controversial Staff
Report on Oswald and Mexico City.
Thousands of records from the FBI's core and related assassination
Private and Local Records -- The Board has identified and secured
significant assassination-related records in the hands of private
citizens and local government, including copies of the official
records of District Attorney Jim Garrison's investigation of the
assassination, the personal papers of Warren Commission Chief Counsel
J. Lee Rankin, as well as long-lost films taken in Dallas on November
22, 1963 that the public had never seen.
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The Job Ahead
Sequestered Collections -- Additional time will permit the Board to
complete its review of the huge and critically important collections of
records at the CIA and FBI that were requested by the HSCA in the course
of their investigation.
The Records of Some Agencies and Congressional Committees -- Additional
time will allow the Board to finish its work with several agencies and
Congressional committees (NSA, Secret Service, Senate Intelligence
Search for Additional Records -- Additional time will permit the Board's
search for additional records held by government agencies, private
individuals, and local governments to be concluded with greater
confidence. Some of these records have been identified, but not yet
acquired by the Board.
Foreign Records -- The Board has started the process of collecting and
reviewing records held by a number of foreign countries (Russia,
Belarus, Mexico, England, Germany, France, Japan. Cuba). Contact has
been made with several countries. Additional time will increase the
likelihood of success.
Before the Assassination Archives Review Board
Listing and transcripts provided by John McAdams'
- Washington, DC -- October 11, 1994
- Dallas, Texas -- November 18, 1994
- Boston, Massachusetts -- March 24, 1995
- New Orleans, Louisiana -- June 28, 1995
- Los Angeles, California -- September 17, 1996
- Washington, DC -- April 2, 1997
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Questions from the ARRB's work History-Matters
Go to the introduction to the JFK Assassination Records
Collection in NARA.
President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection is housed at
the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland. National
Archives and Records Administration - JFK Collection Information Page
and Files from JFK Lancer CDRoms.
Notice: This page is not
officially affiliated with the ARRB, it is a service of JFK Lancer.