Jump to content
The Education Forum

A Culture of Secrecy - The Government vs. The People

Recommended Posts



“A Culture of Secrecy – The Government Versus the People’s Right to Know,” Anthology edited by Athan G. Theoharis (University Press of Kansas, 1998), with contribution by Matthew M. Aid, Jon Wiener, Anna Kasten Nielson, et al.

Chapter 10

The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board. By Anna Kasten Nelson.

“I’ve never seen any information released that ever did anyone any good.” – Agency representative, ARRB briefing.

Anna Kasten Nelson:

“The John F. Kennedy Assassinations Records Collection Act of 1992 marked an important milestone in the ongoing conflict between the public’s need to know and the culture of secrecy that evolved during the fifty years of the cold war. The act was designed to strip away theories that implicated federal agencies in a conspiracy to murder the young president. Its unintended consequence has been to crack open the door to the inner sanctums of the CIA, FBI, and other intelligence agencies.”

[bK: As Doug Horne notes in his response to this statement, the act was designed not to strip away theories but to release records and let the people decide for themselves what to believe.]

“…The Warren Commission Report concluded that President Kennedy had been killed by bullets fired by only one assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository. Three shots had been fired; one hit the president but did not kill him, one went astray, and the third killed Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally of Texas, who shared the president’s limousine as it slowly moved through downtown Dallas. The commission further concluded that, while Oswald was influenced by Marxist ideology and was sympathetic to Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba, his decision to kill the president came from internal demons, not an external conspiracy…”

[bK: Of course it was the first shot that hit the president but did not kill him and reputedly went on to wound Connally, and not the third shot, that killed Kennedy. Nor did the WC ascribe any motive for the assassin, let alone a decision from "internal demons" ].

“The most thorough and direct study of President Kennedy’s assassination was conducted in 1978-79 by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which examined all three of the assassinations that had rocked the country during the 1960s – those of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy…the HSCA questioned the ‘single-bullet theory,’ the conclusion that a single bullet killed the president and wounded Governor Connally…”

[bK: The HSCA investigated the JFK and MLK cases, but not RFK. The MLK HSCA investigation files remain sealed; ostensibly until Oliver Stone makes a movie about that assassination.]

“…How do five individuals deliberately chosen for their unfamiliarity with Kennedy assassination documents, arguments and theories, carry out their legal mandate?…”

[bK:The Review Board was to be composed of five individuals who had no prior experience working FOR the government, not deliberately chosen for their unfamiliarity with the JFK documents. They were supposed to be familiar with the documents as historians and librarians and scholars.]

“…On one memorable occasion, a board member asked an agency official why his agency always withheld a particular piece of information that appeared to be completely harmless. The official thought for a few minutes before replying that he could not remember the reason, but since the information had never been released he was sure there was a good reason.”

Doug Horne's response:


“Assassination aficionados seeking the ‘Smoking gun’ document(s) will be disappointed.” – Anna K. Nelson – former member of the Assassination Records Review Board, in the anthology, A Culture of Secrecy : The Government Versus the People’s Right to Know, by Athan G. Theoharis (Editor), (University of Kansas Press, 1998).

Doug Horne’s Response:

I can think of several “smoking gun” documents right now, of hand, just by memory:

(a) The Top Secret FBI report sent to LBJ in December 1966 indicated that the KGB secretly briefed its New York office in 1965 that it had evidence that Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy.

(B) Inspector Thomas Kelly of the U.S. Secret Service wrote a memo on February 14, 196w which stated that if, in the future, the FBI were allowed sole jurisdiction over investigations of Presidential assassinations, that a “venal” FBI director could single-handedly control the investigation, and “we could have another Seven Days in May situation.” [“Another”?]

© The sworn testimony of JFK autopsy photographer John Stringer to the ARRB in the summer of 1996 conclusively proved that the photographs of “a brain” in the JFK Collection at the Archives could not be the photographs he shot at a post-autopsy supplemental brain exam – essentially proving that the brain photos in the archives are not of President Kennedy’s brain, but rather some other brain.

(d) The sworn testimony of former FBI agents O’Neil and Sibert to the ARRB in

September of 1997 indicated that the brain photos in the Archives could not be Kennedy’s brain because at the autopsy, JFK’s brain, “was over half gone.”

(e) The sworn testimony of former FBI agents O’Neil and Sibert tot eh ARRB in September of 1997 indicated that the JFK autopsy photographs of an intact back of the head were incorrect, i.e., inconsistent with the large posterior defect they remembered seeing at the autopsy.

(f) Numerous OPLANS released to the ARRB by the Pentagon revealed that the U.S. Military (i.e., the Chairman of the JSC, Lyman Lemnitzer) was openly advocating a U.S. military invasion of Cuba before the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Other staff papers generated in 1962 and 1963 at the one-star level within the Pentagon, recommended that the U.S. invent and employ several ingenious pretexts for an invasion of Cuba with overwhelming U.S. force.

(g) The sworn testimony of Dr. James J. Humes to the ARRB in 1996 indicated that the A-P head x-ray of the President shown to him at the deposition in 1996 did not look the same as he remembered it looking on the night of the autopsy in November 1963. Specifically, the x-ray shows a large metal (bullet) fragment today which Humes does not remember seeing on the x-ray during the autopsy – nor does he remember searching for any such fragment on the body; furthermore, the x-ray shows other characteristics that Humes did not remember seeing at the autopsy, and which he did not understand when viewed in 1996. [The implications of his remarks are that the present x-ray could be a partial forgery.]

“I could go on and on, but the above is sufficient to prove that Anna Nelson is just plane wrong on this count. Or more precisely, the relative importance of a document is in the mind of the researcher or historian, and is determined by his or her knowledge, filters, world view, etc.”

Finally, I do not know how anyone could say this without reading all of the documents, either. Another Board member, Dr. Kemrit Hall, more accurately stated at the ARRB’s sunset news conference that “the real impact of the ARRB’s work could not be estimated for at least ten years.”

Now that is a statement I can respect.

Please give this the widest possible dissemination.

Doug Horne ARRB Staff Member, August 1996-September 1998.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...