President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992
n.a United States federal law that mandated the transfer of records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy from agencies throughout the federal government to the National Archives and empowered a review board to ensure the collection and release of all relevant recordsNARA 1995, 291Release of the newest files brings the number of once-classified CIA and FBI records that have been made public in response to the congressional JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 to more than 900,000. The collection is available for researchers in the textual research room at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.Foerstel 1999, 183–184For example, the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 mandates an independent review of all government records relevant to the assassination of President Kennedy. Toward that end, the law empowered a special Assassination Records Review Board to ensure the centralized collection and “timely disclosure” of all relevant records.David 2007, 226Beginning in the 1990s, several statutes and executive orders declassified narrow categories of classified records. Two of the better known statutes are the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandated gathering and declassification review of all records concerned with the death of the president, and the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998, which required a similar effort with respect to records on war criminals.Mathis and Murphy 2017In response, legislation was introduced in Congress in early 1992 to create a review process that was outside of FOIA and specifically designed to speed the release of assassination records. President George H.W. Bush signed the bill on October 26, 1992, and it became Public Law 102-526, the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (the JFK Act).NARA 2023bJohn F. Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963. Almost 30 years later, Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The Act mandated that all assassination-related material be housed in a single collection in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The resulting Collection consists of more than 5 million pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and artifacts (approximately 2,000 cubic feet of records). Most of the records are open for research.
This law was enacted in the wake of the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK. It required that all records be released exactly twenty-five years from the date it was enacted, October 26, 1992, unless the President of the United States has certified that “(i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or conduct of foreign relations; and (ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”Starting on July 24, 2017, tens of thousands of records were released in 2017; however, based on requests from executive offices and agencies, President Donald J. Trump allowed the continued temporary withholding of certain information. More than 18,000 additional records were released on April 26, 2018. President Joseph R. Biden released thousands of additional records in 2021, 2022, and 2023.The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives consists of more than five million pages of records, the vast majority of which were made available by the late 1990s.