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Can we trust the Ferrell Foundation?


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Larry, thanks for your response. FYI: I submitted an FOIA to the CIA for records about Ferrell and got back a "rejection" response. I had asked, among other things, for copies of any FOIAs she had submitted to the CIA and the agency told me specifically that it had no record of having received any FOIA request from her.

I also submitted an FOIA to the FBI for any records on Ferrell and got back a "no responsive records" response. (I'm appealing that response.) The bureau did not tell me specifically, in its cover letter, that it had found no records of any FOIA requests from Ferrell and in looking back over my initial FOIA I see that I didn't specifically ask the bureau to provide copies of FOIA requests from Ferrell. (I've learned that I have to tell these agencies, esp. the FBI, exactly what to look for and where to find it and even then they sometimes ignore me.) Re: the possibility of the MFF site having received documents as the result, presumably, of FOIA requests from the AARC to NARA -- do you know offhand if those FOIAs (I assume they were FOIAs) were written and submitted by Bernard Fensterwald, who, I understand, founded AARC?

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John, I don't know that when Mary was getting documents that she was using FOIA per se, I know I wasn't back in the 90's and she was at it decades earlier. It was just a matter of doing NARA requests and getting records out of the JFK collection, not from individual agencies. You requested them by mail from NARA and they did pulls for you or you went there and copied them yourself. As I understand it both Weisburg and AARC got bulk copies of JFK collection records due to the result of legal actions. So we are talking about batches of documents from NARA and the JFK collections...WC, HSCA, and even the Church Committee etc rather than documents specifically released via FOIA request from the original agencies generating them.

I've only gotten into FOIA effectively when I knew very specifically what I was looking for and could go to the original agency, and even then in many cases they respond that the records in question have been turned over

to NARA so then its off to NARA. Basically FOIA is a "forcing" tool to get records out of the agency of you can define them pretty tightly, the MFF collections may well contain documents produced that way

by researchers and donated by my guess is the vast amount are bulk pulls directly from the various JFK collections at NARA.

Also for the sake of full disclosure, its been many years since I went to NARA myself, fortunately by friend and co-author Stu Wexler is close to NARA and also expert at FOIA. He's done the yeoman's work with NARA and still fights multi-year battles over our FOIA requests; he recently got a batch of FOIA material that we had requested three years ago and got that only after two constructive challenges of FBI rejections. Most of my current work tends to take me to other sources and collections other than the NARA JFK collections.

Edited by Larry Hancock
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What is the AARC? Is it the same as the ARRB?

No. Assassination Archives and Records Center. Their holdings came from many different sources.

Bud Fensterwald was a major player, and other researchers act as advisors. Jim Lesar is now the major figure at AARC.

BTW: My usual complaint: If we are now going to obsess about the motives of other researchers, that's tinfoil hat stuff. Count me out.

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Larry, thanks for your response. I confess to still being a little unclear about how the material that is known as the Ferrell archive or collection actually became part of that archive or collection. My impression, based on what I've read previously about Ferrell, is that the process of accumulating documents apparently took decades, but the exact means by which the documents (and other materials) made their way from various places, such as, perhaps, NARA, to Ferrell's home in Dallas, remains somewhat opaque to me. (I understand, based on a story in The Dallas Morning News, that some, if not most, of the Ferrell material is now at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.)

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John, I'm afraid I can't give much further in terms of detail as I was not acquainted with Mary in the earliest decades of her collection. I do know she did request and obtain large numbers of documents directly from the NARA bulk files (I described how that works/worked in an earlier post), friends helped her sort them, filed them and prepare indexes. Those documents were from the JFK investigations records collections that were legally turned over to the National Archives. Beyond that individual researchers did their own trips and requests to NARA and many donated copies to Mary. Eventually that collection was put on line at the MFF web site, a massive effort of scanning and posting. And those documents were added too by bulk collections from the ARRC (originally many of the ARRC documents had been made available on CD) as well as from other collections held by NARA. Hopefully you have visited the MFF site for a good idea of the range of documents available. Later, documents and other materials including some correspondence, personal files and even books were transferred to Baylor University where they are held now and are publicly available. If you are anyone else is in search of details beyond that you can certainly contact Rex Bradford directly through the MFF web site or I can send you his email. He does have a full time day job and at this point all his MFF work is strictly volunteer so you probably won't get an instant response.

Of course all the original documents in the collection are still available at NARA, on microfilm and in print so anyone wishing to do primary research only has to go directly to NARA - the same way many of us did in the pre-HTML, MFF days.

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Forgive me for invoking you here, Larry, but that's one of the reasons why newbies should slow down a bit and respect the prowess of people (like Larry) who have immersed themselves in the large proportion of documents that are NOT online. A person who has put in the time and sees the big picture is probably going to be a bit wiser and more nuanced than a newbie.

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Stephen Roy @#40

Stephen, you invoke the appeal to authority.

No one here knows why JFK was killed or how.

Yes, some here have studied the case closely. But yes, there is a lot of group think.

The plotters knew how to kill JFK. Knew how to set up Oswald. Knew how to manipulate the American government.

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Yes, I absolutely invoke the appeal to authority. A person who knows more about something...knows more about it. An expert knows more than an amateur. A doctor is usually more skilled than a first-year-med student. Someone who has plowed though NARA, the ARRB releases and other materials is probably wiser and more nuanced than one who has read a few books and occasionally visits MFF.

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My thanks to the people on this forum who responded in a helpful, respectful way to my questions.

Edited by John Kirsch
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