Another batch of JFK assassination papers may see the light of day. A well-known Minnesotan has already given them the eye
The mother of all conspiracy theories will likely get new energy next week, when a key deadline rolls around for government records regarding the 1963 assassination of then-president John F. Kennedy.
It’s the latest round of a decades-long battle over full disclosure of what the government did and didn’t know about Kennedy’s murder and his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald. The 1992 President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act required all the records to be collected and nearly all made public.
It also created 5-member the Assassination Records Review Board to weigh disclosure of the most sensitive information, like secret government informants and agents.
The only living remaining member of that board is U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim, who presides from a bench at the Minneapolis federal courthouse. He spent his first two years as a judge wrapping up the ARRB’s 1998 report on the records. They’ve since been released in dribs and drabs in 2017, 2018 and 2021.
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Since then, a Massachusetts non-profit has sued the federal government, saying that keeping the remaining records secret so far violates the 1992 records act. The Mary Ferrell Foundation filed its suit after Biden postponed the release of a tranche of 16,000 records last year.
That postponement is supposed to end next week.
Tunheim appeared at a National Press Club conference about the foundation and the release on Tuesday.
“This would be an important move for transparency and finality to the ordeal and the information that we redacted I have largely seen. It doesn't contain bombshells of any kind. But it is important to tell the American people that everything has been released,” he said.
Tunheim also noted that key elements of the record remain out of reach: A federal agent allegedly took his personal files to the NBC broadcast network for reporting on the assassination, and those remain locked up. He also said there are extensive Russian records on Oswald — a feet-high stack — that remain locked up.
Researchers appearing at the Ferrell Foundation conference said that they think that personnel records held outside of the official JFK collection, or still redacted, may also show that the CIA had been closely tracking, even interacting with Oswald, in the weeks before the Dallas assassination. They think new revelations could bolster the theories that domestic enemies conspired to kill Kennedy nearly 60 years ago, amid doubts about the U.S. fighting in Vietnam, his alleged antipathy toward Cuba and any number of other reasons.
Rex Bradford, president of the Ferrell Foundation, said that successive probes into the assassination have always left the public wanting and suspicious that the government wasn’t being forthright; concerns that particularly involve the CIA and particularly the Florida anti-Castro activities of an agent named George Joannides in the months before the assassination.
“We have been peeling layers off the onion that is the murder of a U.S. president at the height of the Cold War, year by year. But the work remains unfinished,” Bradford said.