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President Bush Sr. and Clinton Suffocate JFK Records Act in the Crib

Benjamin Cole

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Chapter 2

Establishment of the Review Board
and Definition of "Assassination Record"

A. Introduction

The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act) provided optimistic deadlines by which Congress believed that government offices, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Assassination Records Review Board should complete particular activities. This chapter describes the actions taken by the Review Board to begin its work. Initially, it was clear that the Review Board needed to provide critical guidance by defining the term "assassination record." The Board's definition of that term was the foundation that enabled the Board to begin the critical task of reviewing records.

B. Delay in Start Up

When Congress drafted the JFK Act, it estimated that the Review Board would require a maximum of three years to accomplish its work. There were, however, a number of delays in the early phase of the Board's operation that affected the ability of the Board to meet the deadline set by Congress.

Although President Bush signed the JFK Act into law on October 26, 1992, and although the act required the President to make nominations within ninety days, President Bush made no nominations.

President Clinton did not nominate the members of the Review Board until September 1993, well after he took office in January 1993, and the Board was not confirmed and sworn in until April 1994.

During the 18 month period between the passage of the JFK Act and swearing-in of the Review Board members, some government agencies proceeded with independent reviews of their assassination-related files, as the JFK Act required, but without the Review Board's guidance. Unfortunately, once the Review Board began work, it became apparent that government offices realized that they would need to re-review files under the Review Board's strict standards. Thus, while Congress passed the JFK Extension Act in 1994 (1) to reset the clock and to give the Board a full three-year mandate, it did not foresee the additional delays that occurred as a result of government offices' early attempts to comply with the JFK Act without the Review Board's guidance.


So President Bush Sr. simply did not comply the JFK Act at all (thus setting the precedent that continues through to the Biden Administration) and Clinton waited 450 days, instead of 90 days as required by law, before getting a nominated member of the JFK Review Board installed. 

Of course, in some ways, every federal investigation of the JFKA, when conducted on a deadline, will fail.  If people who want to withhold information can "wait it out," they will do so. 

JFKA researcher Doug Horne, who worked on the ARRB (this was during the Clinton Administration), describes it as people largely uninterested in their work, and looking for the next job in the Administration or elsewhere since the ARRB jobs were, by definition, dead-end. Horne took interest in his work, with invaluable results. 

Of course, rare is the government investigation that is earnest, rather than expedient or politicized. 


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7 hours ago, Michael Griffith said:

I am not surprised by Bush Sr.'s shameful failure to nominate board members, but Clinton's long delay in nominating board members has always puzzled me. 

Why the surprise?

Has anyone in the entire DC establishment and related media ever---ever---gone to the mat to get the JFK Records released? 

"Democracy Dies in Darkness"--WaPo logo. 

Has the WaPo printed anything about the Biden Administration deep-sixing JFK Records? 

The DC establishment unloaded on Trump from every direction possible---but never criticized Trump for putting the JFK Records back into the vault. That was not a shortcoming. 


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