JFK Assassination Records Processing Project
NARA Commits to Processing the Withheld JFK Assassination Records by October 26, 2017
When Congress passed the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act in 1992 agencies throughout the Federal Government transferred assassination-related records to the National Archives which established the JFK Assassination Records Collection. The Collection consists of approximately 5 million pages of records. Approximately 88% of the records in the Collection are open in full. An addition 11% are released in part with sensitive portions removed. Approximately 1% of documents identified as assassination-related remain withheld in full. All documents withheld either in part or in full were authorized for withholding by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), an independent temporary agency that was in existence from 1994 to 1998.
According to the Act, all records previously withheld either in part or in full should be released on October 26, 2017, unless authorized for further withholding by the President of the United States. The 2017 date derives directly from the law that states:
Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, unless the President certifies, as required by this Act, that
(i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or conduct of foreign relations; and
(ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
The Act was signed by President Bush on October 26, 1992, thus the final release date is October 26, 2017.*
The JFK 2017 Processing Team:
In October of 2014, after conducting an initial pre-processing evaluation of the withheld materials, the National Archives constituted a dedicated team of four (4) archivists to process withheld JFK Assassination-related records in preparation for the 2017 release of additional materials. NARA has hired three (3) additional technicians to assist with digitizing the withheld materials.
The Team is conducting archival processing on the documents to prepare the records for scanning. Agencies with equities in the withheld materials have been notified that previously withheld documents will be released in 2017 absent a successful appeal to the President. The staff is working with NARAs Office of Innovation to determine the best way to present the documents through archives.gov when released in 2017.
Once the digital release is completed the hard copy documents will be interfiled into the five million pages of the paper Collection.
*For more information about the ARRB and the Act, you can read the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board. A copy of the Act is in Appendix C of the Report.