His cousin, former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, said the records should be released not because of his family, but because American citizens have a right to know “something that left such a scar in the soul of this nation which has lost not only a president but a promise of a better future.
“I think that for the good of the country, everything has to be put in place so that there is a better understanding of our history,” said Patrick Kennedy.
The documents were due to be declassified in 2017, but President Donald Trump has postponed publication for four years.
Biden’s decision to continue Trump’s policy of protecting records surprised historians and assassination experts, as he had served in the United States Senate when the 1992 John Assassination Records Collection Act F. Kennedy was passed unanimously in Congress. This law, passed in response to questions raised by Oliver Stone’s film “JFK”, established an independent review committee to collect all government records that could affect the assassination and make them public. Most of the files were published between 1994 and 1998. Only the most sensitive classified documents remain confidential.
Biden was first elected to the Senate nearly a decade after Kennedy’s assassination and campaigned with former Senator Ted Kennedy, the late President’s brother and Patrick Kennedy’s father, as a young soul Irish-American sister of the political dynasty.
The White House declined to comment on the case, releasing a substantive statement saying that “the National Archives have indicated that their examination of classified documents is severely hampered by COVID-19 because classified documents cannot be reviewed remotely and have requested more time “. The coronavirus first hit the United States in early 2020, more than 27 years after the passage of the JFK Records Act and more than 56 years after Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963 in Dallas.
Referring to the presidential memorandum it released on Friday evening, the White House promised in a written statement that “the public will have access to a slice of previously withheld documents and redacted information withheld in previously released documents” and that ” the Biden administration is in the process of building a whole-of-government effort to ensure the maximum possible disclosure of information by the end of 2022. ”The president’s note also asks the National Archives to come up with a plan to digitize the whole of the document collection, more than 300,000 files.
A spokesperson for Trump declined to comment on why he delayed the full release of the documents in 2017 after indicating he intended to release them to the public.
Among other unanswered questions, the files could shed light on whether a Central Intelligence Agency agent named Bill Harvey mysteriously traveled from Rome to Dallas before the assassination as well as the agency’s role in plots to kill the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, his surveillance techniques.
The overwhelming majority of the 15,000 files in question come from the CIA and, to a lesser extent, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Parts of them have been published with single words or entire pages blacked out, according to the National Archives.
If the files were released, they likely wouldn’t reveal the identities of other potential Kennedy assassins. Robert F. Kennedy Sr., brother of the president and namesake of the son who spoke to POLITICO, did not believe the official account of the assassination, said historian David Talbot, author of “Brothers: The Hidden” History of the Kennedy Years ”and“ The Devil’s Chess Board. ”
“RFK was the first ‘conspiracy theorist’ of JFK, the Attorney General of the United States,” said Talbot. “Any serious journalist or historian who examines this seriously comes to the same conclusion: that Lee Harvey Oswald was what he said he was, ‘a patsy’, and that the Warren Commission was an effort to cover up the crime, not to investigate the crime in an honest manner.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. agreed with his father’s belief that his uncle had been murdered as part of a larger plot. Kennedy, a controversial figure in his family due to his anti-vaccine advocacy, also said he did not believe Sirhan Sirhan killed his father, putting him at odds with his siblings and other relatives.
He and Patrick Kennedy said their family were reluctant to discuss the JFK assassination and related issues because it was too painful, even to this day.
Patrick Kennedy declined to say whether he believed the official story of the assassination. He said he wasn’t sure the documents would be released on December 15, but he ultimately hopes Biden will do the right thing and release them to the public. He also described the president as someone “who loves my family and this country, and who has a heart full of compassion and love.”
“We live in an age of many conspiracy theories. There is a tendency to distrust government in general, ”he said. “There is a lot of bureaucratic obfuscation. Each agency must exercise its own right to redact certain parts [of the records] what you know is what fuels the whole conspiracy theory.