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JFK files: Classified files on president’s assassination to be released – USA TODAY

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A cache of once-classified documents expected to shed light on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will soon be made public.

President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered the release of new JFK files, sourced from thousands of documents tied to Kennedy’s death.

“The profound national tragedy of President Kennedy’s assassination continues to resonate in American history and in the memories of so many Americans who were alive on that terrible day,” the White House said in a memo authorizing the documents’ release.

The White House further promised transparency around Kennedy’s death “except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.” Biden released nearly 1,500 classified JFK files a year ago today

USA TODAY requested comment from the White House on the impending release of the files.

For decades, conspiracy theories have swirled around Kennedy’s untimely death; the forthcoming files could provide some clarity. Here’s what we know. 

What will the new JFK files detail?

  • The focus of Thursday’s document drop is the CIA’s 80-volume “personality file” for Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated Kennedy, Politico reported.
  • The file includes information the CIA gathered on Oswald before and after the Kennedy attack.
  • Information on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City and a CIA veteran’s apparent conflict of interest will also likely be released, according to POLITICO.

What won’t be revealed?

Some documents regarding Kennedy’s death will remain sealed, though efforts to increase transparency are ongoing, according to Politico.

At Biden’s request, “transparency plans” will also be released Thursday by agencies withholding related documents that explain generally the kinds of files that have not been released and why, Politico reported.

Among the files that are released, don’t expect any major bombshells. White House officials reportedly indicated that no conspiracy theories, like a different gunman or the reveal of a broader conspiracy to kill Kennedy, will be revealed Thursday.

What did the last files reveal?

Not much, researchers said at the time.

One file included information about a “crank call” made to Australia’s U.S. Navy attaché a year before Kennedy’s death about an alleged plot against the president by the Soviet Union, according to Politico. Another file was titled “Plots to Assassinate Castro,” referring to then-Cuban president Fidel Castro.

But experts weren’t impressed. Jefferson Morley, a veteran journalist and author of three books on the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s, called the release a “sham” at the time.

Why aren’t all the files released?

For some JFK historians, the 2021 drop was underwhelming, prompting criticism of the Biden administration. 

“According to the law, all JFK records were supposed to be made available within 25 years, no exception,” Morley told USA TODAY last year.

But this law — the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, or the “JFK Act” — also allows for postponement at the discretion of the president.

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