STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Trump frustrated by secrecy with Kennedy assassination files

The tale of the final hours before the congressionally mandated 25-year release deadline adds a new chapter to the story of Trump's troubled relationship with his spy agencies.

Published: 28th October 2017 01:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th October 2017 02:43 PM   |  A+A-

US President Donald Trump (File | AP)

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON: It was a showdown 25 years in the making: With the world itching to finally get a look at classified Kennedy assassination files, and the deadline for their release just hours away, intelligence officials were still angling for a way to keep their secrets.

President Donald Trump, the one man able to block the release, did not appreciate their persistence. He did not intend to make this easy.

Like much else surrounding investigations of the 1963 killing of President John F Kennedy, Thursday's release of 2,800 records from the JFK files was anything but smooth.

It came together only at the last minute, with White House lawyers still fielding late-arriving requests for additional redactions in the morning and an irritated Trump continuing to resist signing off on the request, according to an account by two White House officials. They spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.

The tale of the final hours before the congressionally mandated 25-year release deadline adds a new chapter to the story of Trump's troubled relationship with his spy agencies.

He again flashed his skepticism and unpredictability in dealing with agencies long accustomed to a level of deference.

The CIA began work months ago to get its remaining assassination-related documents ready for release on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the process.

The person, who was not authorised to publicly to discuss the process and spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the goal was to have all the agency's documents ready to be released in full or with national security redactions before the deadline.

Since taking office, Trump has challenged the integrity of intelligence leaders, moved to exert more control over US spying agencies and accused his predecessor of using government spycraft to monitor his campaign. In the JFK files matter, one White House official said, Trump wanted to make clear he wouldn't be bullied by the agencies.

Whatever occurred in the lead-up to deadline day, Trump was irritated on Thursday that agencies still were arguing for more redactions. Under a 1992 law, all of the records related to the assassination were to be made public unless explicitly withheld by the president.

Just before the release on Thursday, Trump wrote in a memorandum that he had "no choice" but to agree to requests from the CIA and FBI to keep thousands of documents secret because of the possibility that releasing the information could still harm national security.

Two aides said Trump was upset by what he perceived to be overly broad secrecy requests, adding that the agencies had been explicitly warned about his expectation that redactions be kept to a minimum.

"The president and White House have been very clear with all agencies for weeks: They must be transparent and disclose all information possible," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said yesterday.

Trump's tweets, an official said, were meant as a signal to the intelligence community to take seriously his threats to release the documents in their entirety.

According to White House officials, Trump accepted that some of the records contained references to sensitive sources and methods used by the intelligence community and law enforcement and that declassification could harm American foreign policy interests.

But after having the scope of the redactions presented to him, Trump told aides he did not believe them to be in the spirit of the law.

On Thursday, Trump's top aides presented him with an alternative to simply acquiescing to the agency requests: He could temporarily allow the redactions while ordering the agencies to launch a new comprehensive examination of the records still withheld or redacted in part.

Trump accepted the suggestion, ordering that agencies be "extremely circumspect" about keeping the remaining documents secret at the end of the 180-day assessment.

"After strict consultation with General Kelly, the CIA and other agencies, I will be releasing ALL JFK files other than the names and addresses of any mentioned person who is still living," Trump wrote in a tweet yesterday. "I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest."



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

IPL_2020
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp