Heritage

How to Read the New JFK Assassination Files

The National Archive released 2,891 documents last month.
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Earlier last month, President Trump tweeted that 3,600 previously classified documents about the Kennedy assassination will be made public.

October 26, 2017, marks the deadline set in place by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 when he signed the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. The documents will be released unless the president intervenes, and thus far, Trump has indicated that he will not.

However, the National Archives released only 2,891 documents, meaning roughly 700 were kept secret.

The organization released the following statement in a press release this evening:

"Based on requests from executive offices and agencies the President has allowed the temporary withholding of certain information that would harm national security, law enforcement, or foreign affairs. The President also ordered agencies to re-review their proposed redactions and only redact information in the rarest of circumstances where its withholding 'is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.' These instructions will allow the National Archives to release as much information as possible by the end of the temporary certification period on April 26, 2018."

Numerous questions remain about Kennedy's murder—61 percent of Americans believe his death was the result of a conspiracy—so naturally, this omission will fuel those theories.

But the reality is, many of these pages will be filled with frustrating government jargon, code words, and ink that has faded away. They'll be public, but they won't be deciphered, and frankly, some experts think they'll be pretty mundane.

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“Most of the information due to be disclosed at the end was classified as ‘not believed relevant’ to the assassination when the Review Board initially met in the 1990s,” reports Time.

But if you're undeterred, and would still like to read the pages yourself, they are available for download now on the National Archives website, which lists the following things you'll need to access the documents:

  • decompression software such as WinZip to “unzip” the contents

  • software such as Adobe Acrobat to view the PDF files

  • software such as Windows Media Player to listen to the WAV files

  • software such as Microsoft Excel to view the XLSX spreadsheet

The site also suggests that "once a file has been unzipped, use the XLSX spreadsheet to understand the content and context of each file."

If that process still seems overwhelming, head over to Politico, they've put together a helpful guide for prioritizing the Kennedy documents, from the obvious (start with the new files) to the thought-provoking ("keep in mind that the crazy theory about an Oswald 'imposter' in Mexico may not be so crazy").

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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