The following letter was sent to President Biden by New York City attorney Lawrence Schnapf.
August 20, 2021
Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The White House
Re: John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992
Dear President Biden:
On April 26, 2018, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum (2018 Memorandum) postponing until October 26, 2021 the release of records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy. These records were supposed to be disclosed on October 26, 2017 pursuant to the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (the “JFK Act”).
Over the last 25 years, a broad swath of historians and notable authors, former government officials, and other prominent Americans have advocated for the full release of the records. The Honorable John R. Tunheim (former Assassination Records Review Board chair and now Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota) has also specifically called on the CIA to release its withheld records.
Earlier this year, the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) issued a statement asking the National Archives to challenge all additional requests for postponement except for those records that strictly meet the statutory test for postponement. At the recent May 18th PIDB public meeting, the National Archivist revealed that several Executive Branch agencies have already requested further postponement of assassination records.
As a long-term member of the Senate, you no doubt shared the frustration of your former colleagues and the American public at how certain Executive Branch agencies have thwarted the will of Congress by failing to strictly comply with the JFK Act. As President, you now have the authority to ensure that the will of Congress is followed.
Accordingly, the undersigned individuals request that you issue an Executive Memorandum or other directive to ensure that the remaining assassination records are released except for those that strictly comply with the criteria for postponement under the “clear and convincing” test set forth in the JFK Act. A memo prepared by some of the signatories discussing the requirements of the JFK Act is attached for your convenience.
In one of your first press releases, you said: “My administration has no greater task than restoring faith in American government.” The failure to fully comply with the Act is emblematic of the national crisis of declassification. Last year, the PIDB wrote that that over-classification undermines the American public’s confidence in the nation’s institutions. Releasing the remaining JFK assassination records would be a big step towards restoring the trust of the American people in the candor of the country’s institutions.
Very truly yours,
55 E.87th Street #8B
New York, New York 10128
Phone: 212-876-3189 ”
1 Memorandum of President of the United States, “Certification for Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” (Apr. 26, 2018), 83 F.R. 19157 (05/02/2018). President Trump had temporarily postponed the October 26, 2017 deadline for six months.” Memorandum of President of the United States, Oct. 26, 2017, 82 F.R. 50307 (10/31/2017).
2 44 U.S.C. § 2107.
3 “JFK’s Assassination”, New York Review of Books (12/18/2003)
4 David Belin (former Warren Commissioner attorney); G. Robert Blakey (former chief counsel of the House Select Commission on Assassinations); Dan Hardway, Esq. (former researcher for HSCA); Douglas Horne (former ARRB senior analyst); Judge Burt Griffin (former Warren Commission attorney); former Senator Gary Hart; Edwin Lopez, Esq. (former HSCA researcher); John T. Orr, Esq. (former DOJ national criminal enforcement director), Adam Walinsky (former Department of Justice), and Howard Willens (former Warren Commission assistant counsel)
5 See https://www.americantruthnow.org/joint-statement.
6 “Troves of Files on JFK Assassination Remain Secret”, Boston Globe (11/25/13).
7 Available at: https://transforming-classification.blogs.archives.gov/2021/05/05/pidb-receives-letter-regarding-thepresident-john-f-kennedy-assassination-records-collection/ (May 5, 2021). This followed a PIDB statement in December 2017 where the PIDB members expressed their disappointment that so many records continued to be withheld from public access. https://transforming-classification.blogs.archives.gov/2017/12/18/completion-of-thejfk-records-rolling-release/ (12/18/2017)
8 In its 2020 Report to the President, the PIDB reiterated its view that over-classification may undermine public confidence in the Federal Government. Available at: https://www.archives.gov/files/declassification/pidb/recommendations/pidb-vision-for-digital-age-may-2020.pdf.
9 Available at: https://www.archives.gov/files/declassification/pidb/recommendations/pidb-vision-for-digital-agemay-2020.pdf
Dana Remus, Assistant to the President and White House Counsel
Jonathan Cedarbaum, Deputy Counsel to the President and National Security Council Legal Advisor (via email)
David S. Ferriero, Archivist, NARA (via e-mail)
Ezra Cohen, Chairman, Public Interest Declassification Board (via email)
Mark E. Adamczyk, Esq.
Daniel S. Alcorn, Esq.
Mark Allen, Esq.
Alec Baldwin, Actor
G. Robert Blakey, William J. & Dorothy K. O’Neill Professor of Law Emeritus Notre Dame Law School; Former Chief Counsel, House Select Committee on Assassinations
Jean Davidson, Author—Oswald’s Game
Bernard Fensterwald, III, Esq.
Dan Hardway, Esq./ Former staffer, House Select Committee on Assassinations
Paul L. Hoch, Ph.D., JFK researcher
Max Holland, Author—The Kennedy Assassination Tapes
Douglas P. Horne, Chief Analyst for Military Records, Assassination Records Review Board; Author—Inside the Assassination Records Review Board
Jacob Hornberger, founder and president, The Future of Freedom Foundation; Author—The JFK Autopsy and The JFK Autopsy 2
Andrew Iler, Esq.
David S. Lifton, Author—Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of President Kennedy
Fred Litwin, Author—On The Trail of Delusion: Jim Garrison: the Great Accuser
Edwin J Lopez-Soto, Esq., Former staffer, House Select Committee on Assassinations
Patrick McCarthy, Esq.
Dan E. Moldea, Author—The Hoffa Wars
Jefferson Morley, Author—Our Man in Mexico City
Dale K. Myers, Animator/Author—With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit
John M. Newman, Professor of Political Science, James Madison University; Author—JFK and Vietnam; Oswald and the CIA; and his ongoing series on “The Assassination of President Kennedy”
Sara Peterson, co-Author—The Lone Star Speaks : Untold Texas Stories about the JFK Assassination and Voices from the Shadows
Gerald Posner, Author—Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK
Gus Russo, Author—Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK and Brothers
Dr. Larry J. Sabat, Director, Center for Politics, University of Virginia; Author—Kennedy Half Century
Charles J. Sanders, Esq., Board Member, The James Madison Project
David E. Scheim, Author—Contract on America: The Mafia Murder of President John F. Kennedy
William Simpich, Attorney at Law; Author—State Secrets
Anthony Summers, Author—Not In Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination
David Talbot, Author—Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government
Josiah Thompson, Author-Six Seconds in Dallas and Last Second in Dallas.
David R. Wrone, Ph.D., Professor of History Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Author—The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK’s Assassination
K.W. Zachary, co-Author—The Lone Star Speaks : Untold Texas Stories about the JFK Assassination and Voices from the Shadows
Mark Zaid, Esq.