[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George H. W. Bush (1992-1993, Book II)]
[October 26, 1992]
[Pages 2004-2005]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Signing the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records 
Collection Act of 1992
October 26, 1992

    Today I am signing into law S. 3006, the ``President John F. Kennedy 
Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.'' This legislation 
provides for the review and, wherever possible, the release of records 
about the assassination of President Kennedy that have not yet been made 
public. I fully support the goals of this legislation.
    In the minds of many Americans, questions about President Kennedy's 
assassination remain unresolved. Although the Government already has 
released many thousands of documents, the existence of additional, 
undisclosed documents has led to speculation that these materials might 
shed important new light on the assassination. Because of legitimate 
historical interest in this tragic event, all documents about the 
assassination should now be disclosed, except where the strongest 
possible reasons counsel otherwise.
    While I am pleased that this legislation avoids the chief 
constitutional problems raised by earlier versions of the bill 
considered by the Congress, it still raises several constitutional 
questions. First, S. 3006 sets forth the grounds on which the release of 
documents may be postponed, but this list does not contemplate 
nondisclosure of executive branch deliberations or law enforcement 
information of the executive branch (including the entities listed in 
sections 3(2) (G) through (K)), and it provides only a narrow basis for 
nondisclosure of national security information. My authority to protect 
these categories of information comes from the Constitution and cannot 
be limited by statute. Although only the most extraordinary 
circumstances would require postponement of the disclosure of documents 
for reasons other than those recognized in the bill, I cannot abdicate 
my constitutional responsibility to take such action when nec- 
essary. The same applies to the pro- 
vision purporting to give certain con-

[[Page 2005]]

gressional committees ``access to any records held or created by the 
Review Board.'' This provision will be interpreted consistently with my 
authority under the Constitution to protect confidential executive 
branch materials and to supervise and guide executive branch officials.
    Second, S. 3006 requires the Board to report to the President and 
the Congress. If the bill were interpreted to require simultaneous 
reports, S. 3006 would intrude upon the President's authority to 
supervise subordinate officials in the executive branch. I will construe 
the provisions to require that the Board report to the President before 
it reports to the Congress.
    Third, the bill purports to set the qualifications for Board 
members, to require the President to review lists supplied by specified 
organizations, and to direct the timing of nominations. These provisions 
conflict with the constitutional division of responsibility between the 
President and the Congress. The President has the sole power of 
nomination; the Senate has the sole power of consent.
    I note also that S. 3006 provides that, upon request of the Board, 
courts may enforce subpoenas that the Attorney General has issued at the 
Board's urging. I sign this bill on the understanding that this 
provision does not encroach upon the Attorney General's usual, plenary 
authority to represent the agencies of the United States, including the 
Board, whenever they appear in court.
    S. 3006 will help put to rest the doubts and suspicions about the 
assassination of President Kennedy. I sign the bill in the hope that it 
will assist in healing the wounds inflicted on our Nation almost 3 
decades ago.

                                                             George Bush

The White House,
October 26, 1992.

                    Note: S. 3006, approved October 26, was assigned 
                        Public Law No. 102-526. This statement was 
                        released by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
                        October 27.