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Biden administration releases over 1,000 secret JFK assassination files

The previously classified documents relating to President John F. Kennedy's assassination was originally scheduled to be released earlier this year.
Image: Kennedys Riding in Dallas Motorcade
The final set of unclassified documents in the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas is expected to be released by Dec. 15, 2022. Bettmann Archive

The Biden administration on Wednesday released over 1,000 previously classified documents relating to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The 1,491 documents include filings from the CIA, FBI, State Department and other federal agencies. Among them is a report that Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald visited the Cuban and USSR embassies in Mexico in search of a visa in the months before Kennedy's killing. According to a CIA document, another version of which was previously released, one of the people Oswald spoke to was the Soviet embassy's consul, who had ties to the KGB's "assassination department." The documents say they spoke about Oswald's efforts to get a visa to go to the Soviet Union.

Some of the tips investigators chased did not ultimately pan out.

Among the leads disclosed in the filings was a report that the Australians had received a tip in 1962 from a man who claimed he was a driver for Soviet diplomats that there was a plot to kill Kennedy. Officials tried to confirm parts of the man's story and concluded he was a crank. The filings show the U.S. wanted to divulge information about the tip decades ago but was asked not to by the Australian government.

The documents were originally scheduled to be released earlier this year, but President Joe Biden issued an extension for the National Archives to produce the documents in October after the archivist said their work had been slowed by the pandemic.

Under a 1992 law inspired by the Oliver Stone movie "JFK," the National Archives was supposed to have released all of the remaining classified records by October 2017.

The National Archives released a large tranche of documents that month, but held back others at the request of then-President Donald Trump. In a memo, Trump said that "executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns."

The release Wednesday was the largest number of documents to be declassified since then, and the final set of documents is expected to be released by Dec. 15 of next year. In his October order, Biden said all the information should be released "unless the redaction is necessary to protect against an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."