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Assassination Records Review Board
The Assassination Records Review Board was established by The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which was signed into law by President George Bush. The five members of the Board were appointed by President Clinton, confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and sworn in on April 11, 1994. The law gives the Review Board the mandate and the authority to identify, secure, and make available all records related to the assassination of President Kennedy. It is the responsibility of the Board to determine which records are to be made public immediately and which ones will have postponed release dates.
Board Members and Staff Witnesses
The Law and the Authority of the Board Background
Accomplishments Government Records
 
Board Members

The Honorable John R. Tunheim; Chair United States District Court Judge, District of Minnesota

Dr. Henry F. Graff; Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University

Dr. Kermit L. Hall; Dean, College of Humanities, and Professor of History and Law at Ohio State University

Dr. William L. Joyce; Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University

Dr. Anna K. Nelson; Adjunct Professor of History at American University

Senior Staff

Jeremy Gunn, Executive Director

Thomas Samoluk, Associate Director for Research and Analysis

Eileen Sullivan, Associate Director for Communications

Tracy Shycoff, Associate Director for Administration

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The Law

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 Board

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:

bluetrismall direct government offices to provide identification aids and organize assassination records;

bluetrismall direct government offices to transmit assassination records to the National Archives;

bluetrismall obtain assassination records that have been identified and organized by a government office;

bluetrismall direct government offices to investigate the facts, additional information, records, or testimony from individuals which the Board has reason to believe is required;

bluetrismall request the Attorney general to subpoena private persons to compel testimony, records and other relevant information;

bluetrismall require any government office in writing for the destruction of any records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy;

bluetrismall receive information from the public regarding the identification and public disclosure of assassination records; and

bluetrismall hold hearings, administer oaths, and subpoena witnesses and documents.

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Background and Need for the Law

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.

Accomplishments of 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.

Government Records 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:

bluetrismall Thousands of CIA documents on Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of President Kennedy that make up the CIA's Oswald File

bluetrismall 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.

bluetrismall Thousands of records from the FBI's core and related assassination files

bluetrismall 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

bluetrismall 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 -- Additbluetrismallional time will allow the Board to finish its work with several agencies and Congressional committees (NSA, Secret Service, Senate Intelligence Committee).

bluetrismall 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.

bluetrismall 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.


Witnesses Before the Assassination Archives Review Board

  • Listing and transcripts provided by John McAdams' web site

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bluetrismallLasting Questions from the ARRB's work History-Matters website

bluetrismall 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

bluetrismall Ordering Documents and Files from JFK Lancer CDRoms.

Notice: This page is not officially affiliated with the ARRB, it is a service of JFK Lancer.

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