THE PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY ASSASSINATION RECORDS COLLECTION ACT OF 1992 (JFK ACT)
This Act may be cited as the “President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.”
Findings, Declarations, and Purposes
(a) Findings and Declarations – The Congress finds and declares that –
(1) all Government records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should be preserved for historical and governmental purposes;
(2) all Government records concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should carry a presumption of immediate disclosure, and all records should be eventually disclosed to enable the public to become fully informed about the history surrounding the assassination;
(3) legislation is necessary to create an enforceable, independent, and accountable process for the public disclosure of such records;
(4) legislation is necessary because congressional records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy would not otherwise be subject to public disclosure until at least the year 2029.
(5) Legislation is necessary because the Freedom of Information Act, as implemented by the executive branch, has prevented the timely public disclosure of records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
(6) Legislation is necessary because Executive Order No. 12356, entitled “National Security Information” has eliminated the declassification and downgrading schedules related to classified information across the government and has prevented the timely public disclosure of records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
(7) Most of the records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are almost 30 years old, and only in the rarest cases is there any legitimate need for continued protection of such records.
(b) Purposes – The purposes of this Act are – (1) to provide for the creation of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives and Records Administration, and
(2) to require the expeditious public transmission to the Archivist and public disclosure of such records.
Review, Identification, Transmission to the National Archives, and Public Disclosure of Assassination Records by Government Offices
(a) In General
(1) As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, each Government office shall identify and organize its records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and prepare them for transmission to the Archivist for inclusion in the Collection.
(2) No assassination record shall be destroyed, altered or mutilated in any way.
(3) No assassination record made available or disclosed to the public prior to the date of the enactment of this Act may be withheld, redacted, postponed for public disclosure, or reclassified.
(4) No assassination record created by a person or entity outside of government (excluding names or identities consistent with the requirements of Section 6) shall be withheld, redacted, postponed for public disclosure, or reclassified…..
Postponements Under The JFK Act
Whenever an agency wishes, in the terms of the JFK Act, to “postpone” (i.e. redact) information, it must submit those proposed postponements to the Review Board, which then makes “formal determination” on the release of the information.
If an agency disagrees with a decision of the Review Board, its sole recourse under the JFK Act is to appeal the Review Board’s decision to the President. 1.
Whenever an agency wishes to postpone information from a record before the record is released to the public, the agency must identify with specificity the information to be postponed, identify the specific provision of Section 6 of the JFK Act that permits the postponement, and provide “clear and convincing” evidence to the Review Board as to why the information should be postponed. (See Section 6 of the JFK Act, attached.) By way of example, the FBI, which seeks to postpone information that might identify informants, provides other evidence that might be useful to the Review Board when evaluating the proposed postponements. The Review Board takes very seriously its statutory obligation to sustain proposed postponements “only in the rarest of cases [where there is a] legitimate need for continued protection of such records.” See Section 2(a)(7) (emphasis added). Under this statutory standard, which presumes the release of the information except in the “rarest of cases,” agencies have tended to postpone very little information and then only when they are able to provide evidence supporting the proposed postponements. 2.
- Thus far, only one agency, the FBI, has made an appeal to the President. After a full briefing of the issues by the FBI and the Review Board, the FBI withdrew all of its appeals. As a result, every formal determination made by the Review Board has been followed and every record has been made available to the public in accordance with the Board’s decisions.
- The Review Board does, however, routinely sustain postponements of Social Security numbers. No evidence need be provided for such postponements.
ONI Document Declassification Review and Transmission Procedure
The following steps should be taken by ONI to review records that it does not desire to release in full in accordance with JFK Act requirements.
- ONI should make a photocopy of the original record, conduct declassification review in accordance with Section 6 of the JFK Act, and mark the proposed postponements either by highlighting them, or by clearly bracketing them.
- ONI must create a Record Identification Form (RIF) for each document it reviews, using the DOS software and numbering disks created by NASA and previously provided by the ARRB.
- ONI should forward to the Review Board (with Rifs attached), upon completion of its declassification review, all such photocopies, with postponements identified by brackets or highlighting, reason codes (from Section 6 of the JFK Act) assigned to each postponement in the margin that identify which section of the JFK Act justifies postponement, and with all supporting evidence for each postponement. [Along with the highlighted or bracketed review copy of each document, either the original, or a pristine (i.e., unredacted) photocopy, must also be transmitted to the Review Board, with a separate copy of that document’s unique
Once the Review Board staff reviews ONI’s proposed postponements, the staff will notify the Review Board as to whether it concurs with your postponements or not. The Review Board will then evaluate ONI’s proposed postponements, in light of the ARRB staff recommendations, and the evidence provided by ONI (and any referral agencies) in support of these desired postponements.
The Review Board will make formal determinations regarding postponements recommended by ONI. ONI will then be promptly notified of the Board’s decisions, and the Board will explain subsequent procedures. If there are no postponements in a document RIFed by ONI, or if ONI recommends postponements that are not upheld by the Board (and ONI chooses not to appeal to the President), those documents will be immediately transmitted to the JFK Collection at the Archives by the ARRB, and released to the public. Whenever records contain postponements following formal determinations by the Review Board, both the unredacted version (original or pristine photocopy) and the redacted version is released to the public via the JFK Collection.
Grounds for Postponement of Public Disclosure of Records
Disclosure of assassination records or particular information in assassination records to the public may be postponed subject to the limitations of this Act if there is clear and convincing evidence that –
(1) the threat to the military defense, intelligence operations, or conduct of foreign relations of the
posed by the public disclosure of the assassination is of such gravity that it
outweighs the public interest, and such public disclosure would reveal – United States
(A) an intelligence agent whose identity currently requires protection;
(B) an intelligence source or method which is currently utilized, or reasonably expected to be utilized , by the United States Government and which has not been officially disclosed, the disclosure of which would interfere with the conduct of intelligence activities; or
(C) any other matter currently relating to the military defense, intelligence operations or conduct of foreign relations of the
the disclosure of which would demonstrably impair the national security of the United States ; United
(2) the public disclosure of the assassination record would reveal the name or identity of a living person who provided confidential information to the
and would pose a substantial risk of
harm to that person; United
(3) the public disclosure of the assassination record could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, and that invasion of privacy is so substantial that it outweighs the public interest;
(4) the public disclosure of the assassination record would compromise the existence of an understanding of confidentiality currently requiring protection between a Government agent and a cooperating individual or foreign government, and public disclosure would be so harmful that it outweighs the public interest; or
(5) the public disclosure of the assassination record would reveal a security or protective procedure currently utilized, or reasonably expected to be utilized, by the Secret Service or another Government agency responsible for protecting Government officials, and public disclosure would be so harmful that it outweighs the public interest.
Termination of Effect of Act
(a) Provisions Pertaining to the Review Board – The provisions of this Act that pertain to the appointment and operation of the Review Board shall cease to be effective when the Review Board and the terms of its members have terminated pursuant to section 7(o).
(b) Other Provisions – The remaining provisions of this Act shall continue in effect until such time as the Archivist certifies to the President and Congress that all assassination records have been made available to the public in accordance with this Act.