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Are any records being held back on Ruth Paine?


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Posted (edited)

The film "The Assassination & Mrs. Paine" ends with words across the screen. The viewer sees this, one sentence on the screen after another, in order:

"At the urging of the CIA, President Trump postponed the release date of the final JFK files until October 2021."

"In October 2021, President Biden chose to continue blocking the release of the files."

"Dozens of files related to the Paines remain classified."

"Michael Paine passed away in 2018."

"Ruth Paine lives in Northern California."

If a viewer is on the fence concerning the accusations aired in this film concerning Ruth Paine, these closing words on the stark screen, "Dozens of files related to the Paines remain classified", have impact. Those words gave even me a start when I viewed the film. I had a twinge of wondering, could there possibly be something there I don't know about--some surprise? And if I thought that, the rest of viewers will even more. That is the power of those closing words. It is the last thing viewers see, the last thought that they take away from this film.

But it just isn't true.

I checked with Robert Reynolds, of National Chi Nan University in Taiwan, an authority on the JFK Assassination Records Collection. He has a blog at http://jfkarc.info/, which people can look at to find out more about his research on these records. 

All files on Ruth Paine and Michael Paine have been released except tax records. No file remains withheld except for tax returns which are forbidden by law from being released under the law which mandates the release of all JFK assassination documents. There appears to be one Paine-related document which, though released, still has a redaction in it, the name of a source. The number of tax return documents are perhaps two dozen. No decision of a president is capable of releasing those tax returns, by law. (Only the citizen or an Act of Congress overturning existing law is capable of releasing a citizen's tax records.)

That President Biden has blocked the release of files relevant to the JFK case is true, but that President Biden has blocked the release of any file related to the Paines is not true. All of those files are already all out now except for the tax returns--there is nothing more there on Ruth Paine. There is no CIA involvement for Ruth in any of the documents. It simply isn't there because it never was there in the first place.

(And that is hardly surprising, given that except for attending a Quaker conference in London in 1951, through to the time of the assassination and after, Ruth Paine did not travel outside the U.S., where CIA operates.)

Here are Robert Reynolds' findings, for which I thank him and this is quoted with permission:

"The updated JFK database now available at National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) has corrected the current status field for all records. This field now tells us which records are still redacted and/or withheld. According to the latest numbers at NARA, there are still 515 records withheld in full and 14,236 records redacted (this is after the December 2021 release). 
 
"Searching the updated database, I found 18 tax records withheld in full for Michael and/or Ruth Paine. These date from 1956-1963. Another 4 documents from Ruth and Michael's FBI files (HQ 105-126128 and HQ 105-126129) are redacted under the JFK Act section 11(a). Again, this is tax info.
 
"I also did a general search for Paine, Payne, Hyde (Ruth's maiden name), Hoke (the married name of Ruth's sister Sylvia) and Bielefeldt, a friend of Ruth's parents who wound up working for the CIA. I found only two redacted documents: 
 
"1) CIA JFK Doc 1261. There are several copies of this in the ARC (see e.g. https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=154242). It redacts only one name, a CIA employee in CI/SIG. 2) application papers from John Lindsay Hoke, the husband of Ruth's sister Sylvia (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=160292). After he was fired from AID (for promoting his invention, a sun-powered boat), he applied for a job at CIA at least twice, but was turned down.
 
"So one can get up to two dozen records withheld/redacted for Ruth Hyde Paine, but virtually all of these are tax info for her and Michael. These are barred from release under the JFK Act. Other than tax info, almost everything in the Assassinations Record Collection on Ruth has already been opened to the public."
 
And so even in the closing words with which the film ends, Ruth Paine is maligned.
Edited by Greg Doudna
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  • Greg Doudna changed the title to Are any records being held back on Ruth Paine?

Thanks for proving conclusively that dozens of records related to the Paines are being kept classified, Greg.

Doesn't it make you suspicious that dozens of their tax records are sensitive enough to still be kept under lock and key for 59 years and counting? According to you, the Paines are innocent. If that were truly the case, then what could these tax records show? And yet for some mysterious reason these nearly six decade old tax records of these innocent Quakers are mixed in with other documents that are characterized as being potentially threatening to US national security today. Is that just a coincidence? An accident? If so, and these tax documents of the Paines don't show any connection to the CIA, then let's give researchers access. What could be the harm in that? I don't think revealing Ruth's income and deductions from 1962 could jeopardize either Ruth or United States national security now, do you?

6 hours ago, Greg Doudna said:

Ruth Paine did not travel outside the U.S., where CIA operates.

You believe the CIA would never conduct domestic activities. Interesting.

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Greg, this is a good post. I agree Ruth Paine was maligned in the film. Of course, you will get the nutty remarks about the CIA paying Ruth and Michael Paine hidden in the tax returns. That's to be expected from the Paine Bashers in this forum. 

You post evidence, and they post baseless speculation. 

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3 minutes ago, Denny Zartman said:

Thanks for proving conclusively that dozens of records related to the Paines are being kept classified, Greg.

Doesn't it make you suspicious that dozens of their tax records are sensitive enough to still be kept under lock and key for 59 years and counting? According to you, the Paines are innocent. If that were truly the case, then what could these tax records show? And yet for some mysterious reason these nearly six decade old tax records of these innocent Quakers are mixed in with other documents that are characterized as being potentially threatening to US national security today. Is that just a coincidence? An accident? If so, and these tax documents of the Paines don't show any connection to the CIA, then let's give researchers access. What could be the harm in that? I don't think revealing Ruth's income and deductions from 1962 could jeopardize either Ruth or United States national security now, do you?

You believe the CIA would never conduct domestic activities. Interesting.

Fine by me but I'm not the one to ask. The law says you have to ask Ruth Paine.

No it does not make me suspicious that the law is being followed. Nor do I have any doubt that that (following the law) is the reason those tax records are not being released by the Assassinations Records board, not contents.

It also would not make me suspicious if Ruth Paine, if she were asked (I don't know that she has), would tell people like you who have abused her beyond all reason, the Quakerly equivalent of "screw you". (That is me being rhetorical.)

You are following the logic that Ruth Paine must be guilty because otherwise why would the law possibly protect a citizen's tax documents? 

Sounds exactly like the old Obama "birther" conspiracy theory. Obama must be covering up a secret birth in Kenya because otherwise he would accede to demands to show his long-form birth certificate.

The Secretary of State of Hawaii later did release that at Obama's consent. It showed he was born in Hawaii, the same place that two newspaper announcements of Obama's birth published the week of the birth had appeared in Hawaii, the same place that the physician who delivered Obama as a baby said he had done it. In a shocking development nobody could have foreseen, birthers were not convinced but charged the Hawaii vital statistics records on Obama were fake. 

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Posted (edited)

The tenaciousness of baseless beliefs

Those who would condemn any president or assassinations record board for not releasing Ruth Paine's tax documents do not understand the law. Those who condemn Ruth Paine for refusing to allow release of her tax records do not know if Ruth Paine has even been asked, and probably have not considered or thought through carefully what it would mean if Ruth Paine were asked and declined.

There is a case example that may shed light on this. A naive person under the illusion that ideas which gain traction in the JFK assassination conspiracy community are affected by matters of evidence and that people who hold and promote such ideas are responsive to facts, might think, if only Ruth Paine would release those tax returns (if she were asked for a first time)--if only she would do that--that would go a long way toward clearing things up, and people might be less unreasonable with her. So, by this reasoning, it is partly her fault that people are suspicious of her, whether or not she is innocent. She could clear this up. And she will not (if she refused the request). This gives reasonable grounds for suspicion, doesn't it? How could anyone possibly deny that?

We have a case example that tells exactly how well releasing exculpatory documentation works out in the real world, not the naively assumed world: Obama birtherism. Obama birtherism for a long time focused on the question of why Obama (unlike any prior president for whom no such demand had previously been made) refused the simple demand of birthers who were suspicious of Obama that he produce his birth certificate to show he really was a native-born American and not a Kenyan imposter, and satisfy their questions on the matter. That is how Trump rose to national prominence politically in the United States. He got the start of his political career on this issue. The fact that Obama was the first black president was of course said by birthers to be only coincidence. The image was Sheriff Trump throwing the black man up against the side of the cruiser because he did not like his looks and demanding "your papers!". 

For a long time Obama did not and looked like he would not ever release his long-form birth certificate. Some actions in court were brought by birthers attempting to compel Obama to do so. Obama spent some money on lawyers to oppose and defeat those actions in court, one after another. Obama's opposition to being compelled to do what no previous president had been demanded, was interpreted by birthers as further evidence he was concealing the real truth, that he was not a legitimate native-born American, had no right to be president--he was an IMPOSTER American. Across the land, those suspicious of Obama saw this as evidence that their suspicions were justified. They just could not imagine any other rational explanation for Obama's refusal. 

Then Obama did voluntarily (not compelled by any legal action) have his long-form birth certificate released, in April 2011, by the relevant agency in the Hawaii state bureaucracy which had those records. A 2017 Newsweek article shows how well that worked out in the body politic of America. This is 2017, six years after the long-form birth certificate had been released (and no real reason to think it would be much different today):

"Survey results released by YouGov Friday show that 51 percent of Republicans said they think former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, compared to just 14 percent of Democrats. Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election were especially convinced of Obama's African origins: Fully 57 percent said it was 'definitely true' or 'probably true' that the 44th president came from Kenya.

"The data--which included responses from 1,500 adults polled between December 3 and 5--proves that the birtherism conspiracy theory is alive and well, despite the fact that Obama hasn't been in office for nearly 11 months. And Trump may be to blame. Obama was born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961, but the billionaire spent years saying otherwise. Since latching onto the idea that Obama was born in Kenya, he's tweeted about it nearly 40 times, according to Slate. He cast doubt when Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011, famously writing that 'an "extremely credible source" has called my office and told me that Barack Obama's birth certificate is a fraud'." (https://www.newsweek.com/trump-birther-obama-poll-republicans-kenya-744195)

(More on the 2017 poll showing over half of Republicans believe birtherism is true and Obama never was a real native-born American, six years after the long-form birth certificate had been released: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/poll-persistent-partisan-divide-over-birther-question-n627446.)

Here is a hypothetical question: if you were Ruth Paine and you were innocent, would you release your tax records if JFK assassination conspiracy believers asked or demanded you do so who falsely accused you of having been a CIA spy, of having wittingly helped assassinate President Kennedy, and of having fabricated mountains of physical evidence out of a motive to see Oswald falsely incriminated?

What advantage would it be to an innocent Ruth Paine to disclose those tax records to public scrutiny? Can you think of any? 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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Individual income tax records are protected from disclosure under Title 26, USC. Any unauthorized disclosure of Title 26 data by anyone [government employee, ex-government employee, hackers, etc.] subject the person disclosing the information to HEFTY fines, possible imprisonment, or both.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7213

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Robert Reynolds informs that he found three more Paine family related released documents--related to John Hoke, Ruth's sister's husband, in this case-- with redactions, more than the one formerly reported. Each of these have two names redacted (hidden). 104-10120-10303  https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=153461; 104-10120-10304  https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=153462; 104-10120-10305  https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=153463. Thanks to Robert for this update, in the interests of accuracy.

That makes, after this correction (not counting tax records which cannot be released): zero withheld documents, and of the released, four which still have any redactions, of all Paine family related documents. I will post any further corrections that may come to light here. Any others with such information are invited to do so here too.

Max Good: second request, please, respond: what is your source for the closing claim in your film of dozens of Paine files remaining classified?

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