A memo signed by Biden on Oct. 22 was released by the White House, citing the pandemic for the delay. It did not make clear exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the release of the records, which have to be released to comply with a 1992 act of Congress that was signed by then-President George H.W. Bush
“Temporary continued postponement is necessary to protect against 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 immediate disclosure,” Biden said in a statement.
The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, the White House said, “permits the continued postponement of disclosure of information in records concerning President Kennedy’s assassination only when postponement remains 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.”
But earlier this year, the National Archives and Records Administration ruled that the pandemic significantly impacted the agency and needed additional time to release the information, the White House memo noted.
Sensitive information pertaining to the assassination will be released in December 2022, the White House continued. Material that is deemed “appropriate for release to the public” will be released on Dec. 15, 2021, the memo said.
Kennedy was assassinated while his motorcade was driving through Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963. Authorities arrested former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald for the murder, but about two days later, he was killed by a nightclub owner and alleged mob associate Jack Ruby. Ruby died in 1967.
Over the years, the assassination case has continued to trigger debates, theories, documentaries, books, and movies. Over the years, polls have found that a majority of Americans believe that individuals other than Oswald were involved.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration released a trove of documents about JFK’s assassination, including records from the CIA, FBI, and other agencies. Trump had pushed back the release of some of the records to 2021 over “identifiable harm to national security, law enforcement, or foreign affairs.”
Some of the documents released by Trump included new information about Oswald’s attempts to obtain a Soviet or Cuban visa while in Mexico City.
The Oct. 22 White House statement also ordered the archivist to come up with a plan to digitize the agency’s entire collection of JFK assassination records and make them available online.