Long-secret documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy were released to the public on Thursday evening.
President Trump signed a memo authorizing release of the final batch of records related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy — but he agreed with the requests of certain federal agencies to keep some some parts of the documents secret, according to senior administration officials.
Historians, researchers, and conspiracy theorists waited anxiously Thursday for the National Archives to release the records by 11:59 p.m. EST pursuant to the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The records were published online just after 7:30 p.m. on the National Archives website.
Some documents will be held back for further review. Trump's memo ordered agencies to review the proposed redactions and justify them. This process will take up to 180 days, and the agencies have to demonstrate why the blackouts are necessary to protect their sources and methods of intelligence gathering. The vast majority of the requested redactions came from the CIA and FBI, the officials.
The Assassination Records Collection Act, passed in the wake of Oliver Stone's conspiracy-minded film JFK, required the release of all records of the assassination investigation by the 25th anniversary of the bill's signing — Oct. 26, 2017.
"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."
"Agencies who would like their information withheld for longer, need to file a formal appeal with the President," the National Archives said on its website.
Trump himself appeared excited about allowing the release of the secret records, tweeting on Saturday that he would be allowing "the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened." On Wednesday, he said the "long anticipated" release the following day would be "so interesting."
The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow. So interesting!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2017
Previous releases have not altered the government's initial conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
Historians anticipate that many of the records will deal with Oswald's activities in Mexico City, where he traveled two months before the assassination.
According to the 1992 law, all documents released this week will be completely uncensored.
Gerald Posner, author of the 1993 book Case Closed, which supported the conclusion that Oswald was the sole killer, said the Mexico City documents could be embarrassing for people who will be identified as informants for the U.S. government during the 1960s and later.
The archives have already released a large batch of documents in July, which included various reports by the FBI and CIA that identified some of their informants. A Jan. 30, 1964, FBI memo by longtime bureau intelligence chief William Sullivan explored allegations that Oswald was an FBI informant.
"Contrary to testimony, Oswald was never FBI informant (sic), was never paid money for information and was assigned to any symbol number," Sullivan wrote. His memo later identified two bureau informants with the alleged symbol number assigned to Oswald — "a Negro madam who runs a house of prostitution" in Dallas and a Mexican "who furnishes information on the Mexican-Russian Institute of Cultural Exchange in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico."
Another document released in July was an affidavit by then-CIA Director John McCone that "Lee Harvey Oswald was not an agent, employee, or informant of the Central Intelligence Agency."
Any documents that challenge those denials by the CIA and FBI will attract much attention.
Some hope the new records would shed light on various conspiracy theories, including the alleged culpability of organized crime, the Soviet Union, or Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Some of the records released in July included FBI reports on Cuban exiles involved in the attempts to kill Castro or overthrow his government. Several involved Frank Fiorini, also known as Frank Sturgis, a Cuban "soldier of fortune" who was later arrested on June 17, 1972, trying to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington's Watergate office complex.