On Thursday, the United States government is scheduled to release as many as 100,000 pages of heretofore secret documents pertaining to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“The documents have either never been disclosed or been made public only in redacted form, and are due to be released by the National Archives and Records Administration under a law passed in 1992 after the Oliver Stone movie JFK stoked interest,” The New York Times reports. “The last of the documents were required to be released 25 years after the law was signed, but the incumbent president, in this case Mr. Trump, can order some withheld in response to concerns by the intelligence agencies. White House officials said he had not made up his mind whether to do so.”
The impending release has historians of JFK, the Cold War, and other contemporaneous events pondering what new insights, if any, they’ll gain from the contents of the documents.
Many members of the public are similarly focused on learning new facts.
But the release should also serve as an occasion for reflection about why U.S. government officials keep so much of the information they possess from the public for so long.
Ask yourself that question as the contents of the impending release are pored over and reported. Ask, “Did I learn anything of interest that could’ve been declassified back in 1992, or 1989, or 1975, without any likelihood of doing harm to the public?”