The pink suit that First Lady Jackie Kennedy wore during the assassination won’t be shown to the public until 2103.
After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, the government amassed a considerable amount of documents through its subsequent interviews, investigations, and reports.
Most famous was 1964’s Warren Commission Report, the government’s “official” report headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. The 888-page report determined that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, and also that Jack Ruby acted alone in killing Oswald later that week.
Some have disputed one or both of those findings, alleging a broader conspiracy.
The government has released additional documents through the years. Most recently, at President Joe Biden’s direction, an additional 13,173 documents were released in December 2022. They can be viewed online here.
Since that most recent release, 97% of the government’s Kennedy assassination documents are now publicly available. However, that still leaves three percent which have never seen the light of day.
What the bill does
The JFK Act would require six government departments to publicly release any remaining unreleased documents relevant to the Kennedy assassination, in unredacted form. They would have to comply within 30 days of the bill’s potential enactment.
The bill would apply to the National Archives, IRS, CIA, FBI, Defense Department, and State Department.
It was introduced in the House on January 30, as H.R. 637, by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ1).
What supporters say
Supporters argue that enough time has passed that the public should be able to view all information about one of the most important events in American history, not just “most” information.
“It’s more than just the Kennedy presidency. It’s the tensions and the difficulties. There’s this amazing historical context and content. The world really was almost on [a] knife’s edge,” Rep. Schweikert told the Tucson Sentinel during the assassination’s 50th anniversary in 2013. “I’m hoping there’ll be a gathering of facts and re-educating ourselves in the life, times, and death” of Kennedy.
Some also believe the FBI and CIA are withholding the remaining documents not out of national security, as they’re ostensibly supposed to, but because they may be trying to cover up the extent of their incompetence and missed opportunities leading up to the assassination.
In particular, the FBI and CIA were both monitoring Oswald as a suspicious person in the period leading up to the assassination, due to his Cuban and Russian connections, but failed to stop him.
What opponents say
Opponents counter that there are very good reasons for withholding a small percentage of the government’s record on this subject.
When Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, they allowed a government agency to postpone a document’s release if it could jeopardize national defense, intelligence gathering methods, or foreign relations. The government claims the unreleased three percent of documents fall into those categories.
Indeed, a recent Freedom of Information Act request revealed that much of the withheld documents are either FBI or CIA files about intelligence operations from the 1960s, some of which name government informants from the time who are still alive.
Odds of passage
The bill has not yet attracted any cosponsors. It awaits a potential vote in one of six House committees: Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Judiciary, Oversight and Accountability, or Ways and Means.