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2017 JFK document releases

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OK, a long winded reply to Tom's questions, sorry, there are no short answers for these sorts of questions and issues -

My take on the CIA's motives  is based on patterns of their behavior during the different investigations.  First off, we know that JM/WAVE conducted an internal investigation to determine if Cuban exiles of any stripe should be treated as suspects in the assassination.  That investigation was quite through, headed by Tony Sforza, and both the data collected and the report itself just disappeared. Whether that had been directed from HQ or initiated by Shackley himself is unknown; what we also know is that the lied in stating that no such inquiries were conducted at JM/WAVE.

Additionally we know that the CIA was desperate to cover up the projects against Castro and in particular the assassination projects. That can be seen beginning with the Garrison investigation and continues through the Church committee and the HSCA. We have an example of a retired CIA operations officer being brought back in to debrief Cuban exiles leaving the agency who had been involved in covert assassination projects which still remain largely unknown – paramilitary projects run out of JM/WAVE with HQ level support,  completely independent of the phase 1 and phase 2 Roselli efforts. That move is in someways similar to what was done with Joannides.

Beyond that the CIA was desperate to cover up its Cuban penetration projects such as AM/SANTA…which may well have involved Oswald.  And everybody was desperate to cover up any trace of reported or known threats to JFK prior to the assassination.  Rumors circulated in the Cuban community about exile threats would have been poison and could have shown up in DRE or other group contact documents (most of which we have never seen since we don't even know who their case officers were).

Being realistic, it’s most likely that any documents directly covering any of the above hot buttons would either have simply been destroyed or classified as matters of national security and not turned over to the investigations - certainly never released to NARA or during the ARRB work.

But given the immense size and breadth of records,  pieces of information pertaining to any of the above could be contained in unrelated documents – and were, which is why we know some of the above.  My guess is that in tagging Joannides, Jeff hit upon some documents that nobody had thought to examine and that is suggestive information in there either on Oswald or threats to JFK.  FOIA's on other Cuban group case officers could be equally explosive.

Specifically to your question, as I understand it the 2017 release only applies to documents already collected at NARA, including through the work of the ARRB.  If you find something via FOIA at the Agency that means it was still held at CIA (or they would have sent you to NARA for it) and the only way you get it if they deny your request is to fight it out in court.  Same for FBI, NSA etc.  As to illegally withholding it from the ARRB, that’s an interesting question and the answer may well be based on what it is that seems to convince judges that the documents do have national security protection.  But let’s face it, the SS destroyed several sets of JFK related files during the initial work of the ARRB with no repercussions and those trip files may well have recorded known threats - that could be a common thread.  

Once you get beyond that things get way too complex for something as limited as a forum  post; I can only say that in Shadow Warfare Stu and I spent a good deal of time looking at the reality of the National Security legislation of 1947/48 and the legal code that goes with it. In general the research community really does not fully appreciate the legal restrictions that are in place (or if we do, we reject them and figure that government employees should go ahead and ignore them and give us what we want). We also fail to recognize that the existing legal code actually demands CIA personnel and others under national security oaths to obfuscate or even lie in court on certain matters.  To be more specific it forces them to choose between the national security codes, their oaths, the jurisdiction of a civil court, their careers and their conscious.

As to Trump, I’m not sure how it’s possible to get an informed decision of any sort about what he may do…if there was ever an example of “situational behavior” it resides in our President Elect.

Edited by Larry Hancock
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Thank you. Agree 100%.


one more thing... (lol)

23 MAY 1967

…Because of the extreme sensitivity of the operations being discussed or attempted, as a matter of principle no official records were kept of planning, of approvals, or of implementation. The few written records that do exist are either largely tangential to the main events or were put on paper from memory years afterward. William Harvey has retained skeletal notes of his activities during the years in question, and they are our best source for dates…

It’s my belief that this was when the CIA destroyed their core JFK documents and it was done under the “cover” of destroying the Castro Assassination IG Report

The record of that destruction is here:


Edited by Chris Newton
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  • 2 months later...

I thought I'd post the original Rex Bradford transcript that started this thread, for ease of access.  (The actual video is available at the Mary Ferrell website, as Larry Hancock originally posted, at http://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Featured_Mark_the_Date.html ):


This is a transcript of a video/slideshow presentation by Mary Ferrell Foundation president Rex Bradford, delivered at the 2016 November in Dallas research conference.  Most of the original slides are included interspersed with the text (click to enlarge them), along with links for further exploration. 


Hello, November [2016] in Dallas.  ...I wanted to record this video missive, to tell you to mark a date on your calendar. 

The date? October 26, 2017.  That's about 11 months away. 

Why is this date important? Because it's the 25th anniversary of the passage of the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992.  But the significance goes beyond the normal anniversary nostalgia.  Here is a section from the JFK Records Act:

"Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act..."

And the National Archives is busy getting ready to do just that.  They have published, and we have put online at maryferrell.org, a document listing 3,571 records which to this day have remained withheld in full.  There are another roughly 35,000 documents which feature redactions--like this page of the Lopez Report.  In 11 months, all of those redactions are supposed to be lifted. 

Oh but wait, I forgot to read the rest of the sentence in the JFK Records Act.  "Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full.....yadda yadda.....unless the President certifies, as required by this act, that: (i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and (ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

We'll come back to this point. 


So, is this event going to be a big deal? What's in these records? Will we get to see what's behind the whiteout on this page from the CIA's so-called family jewels" document, released in 2007 with much fanfare as a sign of new openness?

Personally, I have given up on the hunt for the smoking gun, but I also am very much looking forward to this release.  We already have the RIF sheets - the metadata including titles, subjects, number of pages, etc.  for all 3,571 fully withheld documents, so we have a sense of what to expect. 

This metadata, by the way, along with metadata for the full collection, is now all available and searchable at maryferrell.org, in a project called the JFK Database Explorer.  The metadata cards I'll be showing in this presentation were grabbed off these MFF pages. 

Here's a breakdown of those 3,571 documents by agency - FBI and CIA documents make up the bulk of them, but there's a fair number of IRS records too.  Why? Tax returns. 

  • FBI: 35%
  • CIA: 33%
  • DOJ: 15%
  • IRS: 5%
  • HSCA: 5%
  • STATE: 3%
  • OTHER: 5%


Here are metadata slides for a few of those IRS records.  Tax returns for Lee Harvey Oswald - 1959, the Paines - 1962, hmm, here's the William B.  Reilly Coffee Company, where Oswald worked in New Orleans. 

Most of the FBI documents still with held are marked NBR - Not Believed Relevant, so many of them may not be of much interest, though I'm sure that judgment will differ from reader to reader. 

But in general, and you can scan through these for yourself using the JFK Database Explorer, just from the titles and subjects it's clear that there is much of interest in these still-withheld records.  And the simple fact that these have been withheld for this long adds a bit of mystery.  In some cases, like IRS records, the withholding is directly related to general government practices around documents.  In other cases, it's not at all clear why some documents are withheld. 

Let's have a look at a few interesting samples. 

  • There are withheld DOD records on military contingency planning around Cuba. 
  • LBJ's intelligence briefings for two weeks starting the day after the assassination. 
  • 15 pages of LBJ's daily diary entries from June 6, 1967, during the 6-day War. 
  • Minutes of the Special Group from August 30, 1962. 
  • A transcript of a 1964 interview with Robert Kennedy from the papers of William Manchester.  See the note "closed by court order until 2067." Perhaps instead it will be 50 years early? What court order?
  • A 49-page Church Committee record entitled "FBI ON WARREN COMMISSION"
  • Here's one of a few Department of Justice documents with "PUBLIC MAIL" in the record series.  (Is this Garrison memo from a mail intercept, or mailed to them by an inside informant, or what - by what means does "public mail" end up on a copy of a memo from one of Garrison's staff to the DA?)
  • A few more Church Committee interview transcripts not included in the 1990s releases, including one with none other than CIA CounterIntelligence chief James Angleton. 

The House Committee on Assassinations has some still withheld records:

  • A 100-page document on the strange story of Regis Blahut's mishandling of JFK autopsy photos. 
  • A transcript of the HSCA interview with Orest Pena, the New Orleans bar owner who told them that Oswald was palling around with the FBI.  There are actually 3 copies of this 1978 interview with different RIF numbers - all still withheld in full. 

Some of these are just intriguing even if they probably won't amount to much.  Here's an HSCA 1-pager with the no title and the subject "REVOLVERS" - really?

For me, the CIA records here hold the most interest:

  • Anybody into the Nosenko story will have a happy Christmas.  Many transcripts  - lengthy reports  - even some magnetic audio tapes .
  • Here's an 84-page document on Bernard Barker, the Cuban exile and Watergate burglar who often shows up in CIA files as AMCLATTER-1. 
  • An 86-page file on the DRE Cuban exile group - you know Carlos Bringuier et al - helpfully labeled "Not Believed Relevant." Note the term "operations" - we'll come back to this. 
  • A 40-page CIA file on HSCA investigator Ed Lopez. 

There are a whole bunch of these volumes of Oswald's 201 file here, withheld in full; they presumably are just copies of what we already have.  Though the comment field notes "duplicate retention file contains classified information."

There are some finance reports for the Cuban Revolutionary Council exile group. 

  • A 49-page CIA report from 1967 on Vietnamese leader Diem, or possibly the coup in which he was overthrown and murdered. 

For Mexico City watchers, there will be an abundance of releases including:

  • A 167-page CIA document on Valeriy Kostikov, the Soviet agent stationed in Mexico whose name was used as part of the "world war III" scenario that the Warren Commission we now know was created to push back against. 
  • A still-withheld Warren Commission record, a memo from CIA to the White House Situation Room 4 days after the assassination, regarding the man named Gilberto Alvarado Ugarte who was then telling US and Mexican officials a story that he saw Oswald take money in the Cuban Embassy to kill Kennedy.  The timing here is precisely at a point where there are gaps in our understanding of how LBJ turned from being against a Presidential Commission the day before, to being for it a day after, and thus may shed more light on that process. 
  • A taped interview with the Tarasoffs, the CIA translators whose account to the HSCA concerning the so-called "Oswald calls" was at odds with the CIA's narrative.  This presumably is a tape of the already-released transcript, but we'll see.  Because for one thing there are two different audio interview records. 
  • A 221-page document on June Cobb, a person fascinating enough that a whole book could be written on her.  Given that this is volume 7, it appears the CIA already has. 

And there's much more. 

Then there are some documents that I want to show before segueing into a discussion of the possibility that we might not see all of these documents in 11 months. 


As I mentioned, most of the still-withheld FBI records are, perhaps rightly or perhaps wrongly, marked Not Believed Relevant.  But not all of them. 

  • This one is a one-pager whose title is [RESTRICTED], and whose subjects are MICHAEL MCCLANEY and [RESTRICTED].  Many of you may know that McClaney was the owner of the land in Louisiana where an anti-Castro training camp was raided in the summer of 1963. 
  • The redaction in the title and subject is, according to this postponement form associated with this record, withheld due to "cooperating individual or foreign government, currently requiring protection." So perhaps we will finally learn who blew the whistle on the training camp. 

There are CIA records as well that the agency may well consider especially "sensitive":

  • This is a 260-page "201 FILE OF PROTECTABLE SOURCE" for agent LITAMIL-9, who was a double-agent working inside the Cuban Embassy, for which an identification and associated references is made on the Mary Ferrell Cryptonym Database Project.  LITAMIL-9 for instance informed to the CIA on the demeanor of Silvia Duran when Duran returned to the Embassy, after having been arrested by the Mexican government at station chief's Win Scott urging and harshly interrogated. 
  • There is a 96-page FIELD DOUBLE AGENT GUIDE for instructing such persons. 
  • And there are a number of "OPS files" - operational files - listed under names such as William Harvey, David Phillips, Ann Goodpasture, E. Howard Hunt, James O'Connell, Harold Swenson, and others.  Richard Snyder, the US State Department Embassy official in Moscow during Oswald's defection, has a CIA operations file .  Curious.


And it's these sorts of records in particular, and also in the other 35,000 documents with redactions many of which are about "sources and methods".  In this page from the Lopez Report, what is redacted are agent names. 

In this page from Richard Helms' testimony to the HSCA, this one short redaction is the name of an agency of the Mexican government, and Helms is telling the Committee that revealing this cooperation would cause "bad feelings between Mexico and the United States." The amount of this stuff - agent names, identification of cooperating foreign governments, intelligence-gathering methods - leads me to wonder whether the CIA in particular, more than the other agencies where these documents come from, may try to stop the 2017 releases. 

The bar that the law sets is pretty high - identifiable harm, and of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest - but really the bottom line is that the President can make this determination.  And if an agency makes a forceful case, will President Clinton-or-Trump-not-known-at-the-time-of-this-recording go along?

Expect to hear more from the Mary Ferrell Foundation, as well as other groups like CAPA, about this topic in the coming months. 

Another issue is, in the event of the release of these records, dissemination of them.  In email exchanges I've had with the Archives, they seem fully committed to the release - again, barring Presidential action - but are pretty vague at this point about their stated goal of putting the documents online. 

I am determined to get these records online even if they only come out in the Archives in paper form.  Expect to hear more on this topic too, including a way interested researchers can help.  Given the number of records here, it may be very helpful to pre-identify "high value" documents to be obtained and electronically published as soon after release as possible.  I plan to put up a page on the MFF site that will allow interested researchers to participate in identifying those high-value records.... 

-- Rex Bradford [Nov. 2016]

Edited by Paul Trejo
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And to make it even easier -- here's how many JFK documents, approximately, each US Government Agency will be releasing by10/26/2017:

FBI:  35% ~ 1,245 documents
CIA:  33% ~ 1,175 documents
DOJ:  15% ~   535 documents
IRS:   5% ~   175 documents
HSCA:  5% ~   170 documents
STATE: 3% ~   101 documents
OTHER: 5% ~   170 documents

TOTAL = 3,571 documents

It is obviously premature for anybody to say with any certainty that they know what is contained in those thousands of documents.  Still -- I will offer my guess today.  Those documents will show conclusively that the US Radical Right in Dallas was behind the JFK shooting.  Several of them testified for the Warren Commission -- and lied through their teeth. 

--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo
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