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David Talbot: We need a Snowden for JFK assassination documents


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David Talbot wrote on Facebook today:

We need an Edward Snowden for the Kennedy assassination case. Under the JFK Records Act passed by Congress in 1992, all government agencies were compelled to release documents related to the Kennedy presidency and assassination (thank you, Oliver Stone, for that essential legislation). But the CIA continues to withhold about 1,100 key Kennedy documents, and the FBI and other agencies are sitting on thousands more. The National Archives, which has been processing these remaining documents, is supposed to release them about a year from now, in October 2017. But nobody in the JFK research community who has been fighting the CIA for these documents for many years (including Jefferson Morley and me) expect the spy agency to abide by the law next year.

What are in these hidden CIA documents? Among other things, they relate to William Harvey, David Phillips and Howard Hunt -- central players in the CIA assassination operations against Fidel Castro and others, and prime suspects in the Kennedy assassination, ever since the congressional investigations of the 1970s.

I became especially interested in Harvey while researching "The Devil's Chessboard" after I learned from the children of Harvey's late deputy, F. Mark Wyatt, that their father strongly suspected his boss played a role in the Kennedy assassination. Before he died, Wyatt -- who served under Harvey in the Rome CIA station in 1963 -- told the European TV journalist Fabrizio Calvi that he spotted Harvey on a flight to Dallas not long before the JFK assassination, and when Wyatt asked him why he was going there, he received a vague reply. Wyatt thought Harvey was a dangerous character --while working together in Rome, he pressured Wyatt to arrange for the assassination of Italian Communist leaders (which Wyatt resisted, to Harvey's rage). Wyatt later said that his former boss also made incriminating remarks after the Kennedy assassination.

Naturally, I was eager to get my hands on Harvey's CIA travel records in 1963 to confirm that he did fly to Dallas that fall, when he was based in Rome and had no apparent reason to go there. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for those records through Washington attorney James Lesar -- but years later, the CIA is still stonewalling me, as they are authors like Jeff Morley (who has sought agency records on James Jesus Angleton for his forthcoming book on the counterintelligence chief, and other agency officials tied to the Kennedy case).

This is why I'm extremely skeptical the CIA will obey the law next year and release these documents. National Archives officials have said they are eager to release the historical material to the public, but the CIA remains cagey about whether they will allow it. In the past, the agency has cited vague national security reasons for blocking these papers -- even though the documents relate to a long-ago Cold War past.

And this is why, if the CIA and other federal agencies continue to defy the law next year, we need an Edward Snowden to uphold the JFK Records Act and do the right thing. There are many honorable people who work in the National Archives and have access to these documents, as there are within the CIA itself.

This history belongs to the American people...by law. But, as the enemies of the truth in Washington well know -- and as George Orwell warned us -- those who control the past, control the future.

When government agencies brazenly defy the law and the public will, it's up to citizen heroes to make sure justice is served.

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