By Alice Giordano
On the afternoon of Friday before arguably one of the busiest holiday weekends in America, the Biden administration issued a memo announcing that due to national security, it was going to postpone the release of certain classified documents relevant to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (JFK).
Despite the quiet announcement on the eve of the July 4th weekend, it sparked off outrage led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) who has in recent times openly speculated that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was behind his uncle’s assassination and that he could be in danger from the agency.
In a barrage of Twitter posts, Kennedy, who is gaining momentum against Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination for president, suggested a coverup.
“The assassination was 60 years ago. What national security secrets could possibly be at risk? What are they hiding?” he asked.
He blasted Biden for choosing the timing to cover the “bad news” he would be “maintaining secrecy indefinitely” on JFK assassination records.
Kennedy charged that the postponement was an “unlawful” violation of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandated the release of all government-held JFK assassination records no later than October 2017.
The records have been kept with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The deadline to release the JFK assassination documents has been repeatedly extended including under the Trump Administration.
However, the law does include an exception in instances where the president certifies that a continued delay is “made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations” and the harm is “of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest.”
In December, as part of a partial release of new records, Biden issued a signed agreement that the remainder would be released on June 30, the eve of the Independence Day weekend.
On Friday, the White House announced that more than 99 percent of the records have been publicly released. But in the memo signed by Biden, the president said that NARA’s acting archivist recommended he postpone the public release of “certain redacted information” in the records released back in December.
“Continued postponement of public disclosure of that information is necessary to protect against identifiable harms to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, and the conduct of foreign relations that are of such gravity that they outweigh the public interest in disclosure,” the memo states.
Biden also said that future release of the withheld JFK assassination records would “occur in a manner consistent” with a policy called the Transparency Plan, which was established by the National Declassification Center (NDC).
“The Transparency Plans will ensure that the public will have access to the maximum amount of information while continuing to protect against identifiable harms to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, and the conduct of foreign relations under the standards of the Act,” wrote Biden in the memo.
Since declaring his candidacy for president, Kennedy has become increasingly vocal about his belief that evidence shows his uncle JFK was murdered by the American government.
He noted that among the members of the Warren Commission, as it was named, to review the assassination, was ex-CIA Director Allen Dulles, who was fired by President Kennedy.
Dulles died in 1969, six years after Kennedy’s 1963 assassination and denied any involvement in Kennedy’s murder.
Dulles International Airport in Washington was named after his brother John Foster Dulles, who served as secretary of state under President Dwight Eisenhower.
RFK Jr. believes Dulles used his position with the Warren Commission to cover up evidence of CIA involvement. He said in a recent interview that his own father’s “first instincts” was that the federal agency carried out the killing.
The CIA has long denied any involvement in the 35th president’s death.
In 1979, a U.S. House review committee appointed to study evidence of the assassination concluded that at least two gunmen and co-conspirators were involved in Kennedy’s murder.
The only person ever accused of killing Kennedy was former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald, who denied being the assailant, was killed a few days after Kennedy’s death by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
Ruby was convicted and sentenced to prison where he died in 1967 while waiting for a new trial after winning an appeal of his conviction.
In mid-June, national conservative podcaster Joe Rogan asked Kennedy if he was concerned about his safety in relation to being targeted by intelligence agencies, like the CIA.
Kennedy said yes, that “he has to be careful” and that he does “take precautions.”
Samantha Flom contributed to this report.