Since the 1992 passing and signing of the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, millions of pages of this collection have been released to researchers and the public by the National Archive and Records Administration.
This Thursday, as prescribed in the act, the rest of the documents should finally be made public - and we want your help going through them.
There are two possible obstacles for researchers to overcome before they can dive into this data dump. One obstacle is a provision in the law that would allow the sitting President to forgo this disclosure for the following reasons:
(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.
Luckily, this obstacle does not seem to be an issue:
Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
The more pressing challenge will likely be the format in which the files will be shared with the public.
This past July, there was a release of 3,810 documents grouped in 18 sections. It was a clear reminder of the differences between something being “released” and “accessible,” as the massive release caused a number of technical challenges just sifting through it all. It is perhaps in light of this previous release that NARA’s team of four archivists and three technicians has seen fit to do a massive data dump this Thursday, October 26th, 2017.
To help organizer those interested in going through the documents - largely information from the Department of Justice and Central Intelligence Agency - MuckRock will be hosting a Slack channel chat Friday to discuss methods and best practices for researchers who are interested in taking the dive into this data set. The chat will start at 2 p.m. Eastern in #foia-help. As a community, we can help each other over come the difference between “released” data and “accessible” data!
For more information, and to join the Slack channel, click on the button below.
Image via Wikimedia Commons