Did the CIA try to thwart the nation’s last investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination?
“The CIA not only lied, it actively subverted the investigation,” says G. Robert Blakey, the former general counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which issued its report in 1979.
“It is time that either Congress or the Justice Department conducts a real investigation of the CIA,” Blakey said at a conference last month. “Indeed, in my opinion, it is long past time.”
Blakey, shown at left, urged the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to comply promptly with a federal law unanimously passed by congress in 1992 requiring release of JFK records.
Archives leadership refuses to release the documents until 2017 without CIA or presidential approval. The CIA has said it lacks the personnel to process the documents sooner in ways that protect national security.
But at what point does refusal to cooperate with a murder investigation signify a broken system?
As part of our ongoing Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide to the JFK murder, today’s column examines Blakey’s allegations. They exemplify the intelligence community's ongoing resistance to congressional oversight. A future column here will examine evidence that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had secret working relationships with the CIA and FBI.
Today, we focus on the late CIA officer George Joannides, at right, the agency's liaison to Blakey's congressional staff as they reexamined the validity of the 1964 Warren Commission report on JFK's murder.
Blakey’s written statement here attacked Joannides for obstructing the congressional probe under the pretense of help. Blakey announced his views Sept. 26, 2014 at a three-day conference in Bethesda, MD organized by the non-profit Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC).
The AARC conference title was “The Warren Report and the JFK Assassination: Five Decades of Significant Disclosures.” Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren had led the seven-member commission, which included former CIA Director Allen Dulles among its membership of high-ranking federal officials and former officials.
The commission announced that Lee Harvey Oswald, 24, had acted alone in killing Kennedy with three shots from behind.
Blakey and two fellow congressional researchers, Edwin Lopez and Dan Hardway, said at the AARC conference they will seek missing CIA records about JFK later this fall — unless the Archives complies with their recent request.
Critics have long attacked the Warren report as a whitewash. Some critics cite medical and other scientific evidence to show that it was impossible for Oswald to have accomplished the crime alone, especially if Kennedy's fatal shot was from the front.
Others argue the commission intentionally covered up embarrassing if not criminal ties between itself, the FBI, Oswald, the Cuban exile community, and/or such organized crime leaders as Carlos Marcello, whose turf included the Gulf State region encompassing New Orleans and Dallas.
The CIA had the motive and opportunity for a cover-up and a killing, critics have alleged in multiple books, including JFK and the Unspeakable by peace activist James Douglass, JFK by the late Pentagon liaison to the CIA and Air Force Col. Fletcher Prouty, and Breach of Trust by historian Gerald McKnight.
Veciana is now 86 and was the victim of a shooting in the head in 1979 after he revealed his experiences to House investigators. He formerly led the Cuban exile anti-Castro military operation Alpha 66, a major opponent of both Castro and Kennedy.
Veciana described last month how he saw his CIA handler, David Atlee Phillips, meet Oswald in the lobby of a Dallas office building six weeks before the JFK shooting.
Phillips, a former actor and master of false identities, had nurtured the growth of the DRE, the acronym in Spanish for the Student Revolutionary Directorate, another of the most popular and important CIA-funded anti-Castro groups in the United States. In 1962, Phillips, shown at right, handed over DRE liaison to Joannides, according to historian John Newman, author of Oswald and the CIA and a speaker at the AARC conference.
Phillips was the CIA's chief of Cuban operations in the CIA's Mexico City office in 1963, and after retirement founded the influential Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
The Warren report's theory of the assassination depends in part on Oswald's activities during several months in New Orleans during the summer of 1963 before the Nov. 22 assassination of Kennedy that year.
Oswald, an ex-Marine and former defector to the Soviet Union, worked during the early part of the summer as a maintenance man at the Reily Coffee Company, whose owner is reputed by historians to have been involved with the CIA and anti-Castro actions.
In August 1963, New Orleans police arrested Oswald, shown at right, after he distributed pro-Castro literature on a downtown street and brawled with anti-Castro activists from the DRE.
Oswald then generated newspaper coverage by debating on radio the local DRE leader, Carlos Bringuier -- whom Oswald had privately visited previously in seemingly friendly fashion at Bringuier's clothing store. That visit was one of many curious activities by Oswald that undercuts conventional wisdom.
In September, Oswald traveled to Mexico City for still-disputed purposes.
The CIA reported that it lost or destroyed key documentation, including a tape recording purportedly showing Oswald (or an imposter) talking with Soviet embassy staff in Mexico City. Voice analysis showed that the purported "Oswald" on the CIA tape was someone else, according to a now-public confidential briefing from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to President Lyndon Johnson after Kennedy's assassination.
Even so, the Warren Commission report and the media focused almost entirely on the theory that Oswald was a leftist misfit and murderer. It disregarded evidence that authorities used him as a patsy or that he was a low-level government operative acting under instructions.
Blakey's Background As Congressional Investigator
In June 1977, HSCA Committee Chairman Louis Stokes (D-OH) hired Blakey as chief counsel. Blakey was a Cornell University law professor after an illustrious career as a congressional staffer helping devise legal strategies against the mob, as I reported in a 2011 column, "Learning from Heroes Who Fought the Mafia."
At the committee, Blakely succeeded Philadelphia prosecutor Richard Sprague, whom the committee had forced out after Sprague and his deputy Robert Tanenbaum aggressively pursued conspiracy leads involving Phillips, among other CIA officials. As experienced prosecutors of many murder cases, Sprague and Tanenbaum wanted to follow evidence wherever it led.
Instead, Blakey deferred to the CIA, according to committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi, an independent-minded former magazine writer who described their experiences in The Last Investigation.
“Unlike his predecessor Dick Sprague,” Fonzi wrote, “Blakey saw nothing wrong in seeking a ‘working arrangement’ with one of the subjects [i.e. the CIA] of his investigation....Yet, in the end, Blakey was suckered.”
Fonzi's book and many articles reported also how pressure by congress, including staff firings and tight deadlines, blocked a thorough congressional investigation of the JFK murder.
Blakey and his congressional team tried to explore, among other things, suspected relationships between Oswald, Cuban exiles and the CIA.
Investigators asked Joannides, for example, the name of the CIA case officer for the DRE.
Joannides denied the CIA was working in 1963 with the anti-Castro group. That, of course, frustrated document requests on the topic as the committee's two-year existence sputtered to an end.
In fact, Joannides had been the CIA's liaison for the DRE's still-vibrant relationship in 1963 with the agency. Joannides, who died in 1990, had led the CIA's anti-Castro psychological warfare operations among South Florida Cuban exiles.
The deception came to light because JFKFacts.org founder Jefferson Morley and his attorney James Lesar obtained CIA records during more than a decade of litigation in the federal civil case Morley v. CIA.
Lesar is a longtime specialist in federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law who also leads the AARC as president.
Morley is a former Washington Post reporter who left the paper after it proved reluctant in his view to pursue leads in the JFK murder case. Morley authored the 2008 book, Our Man In Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA. Scott was the CIA's station chief in Mexico City and helped the embassy foster fears in Washington immediately after JFK's death that Cuban's leader had ordered JFK's murder. The trail implicating Castro, which most historians now dismiss as false, helped steer the Warren Commission into claiming to reduce world tensions that Oswald acted alone.
One secret CIA document even described the Joannides work with congress in the late 1970s as an "undercover" assignment -- a remarkable description for the CIA in its work with elected officials who are supposed to supervise the agency.
A vivid perspective comes from two of Blakey's researchers, his former Cornell law students Dan Hardway and Edwin Lopez.
Their assignment was to investigate CIA awareness of Oswald's activities in Mexico City during a seven-day trip Oswald took in late September 1963. "Implicit in that assignment," Hardway wrote, "was the issue of whether Mexico City indicated any operational connection between Oswald and the Agency."
Hardway has described in two recent speeches and memos, available on the AARC website, how the CIA sought to control his part of the committee's investigation.
Hardway said he received from a CIA liaison at the beginning of his work a flattering preliminary suggestion that he work for the agency.
But the agency increasingly gave Hardway and Lopez false information and withheld information, Hardway recalled, and then complained to the House committee chairman that Hardway and Lopez were behaving improperly as too aggressive.
In March 1979, the committee issued a 686-page report (not counting 12 volumes of exhibits) that concluded that Kennedy was probably killed in a conspiracy by Oswald and other unknown persons. The committee suppressed Lopez and Hardway research, a 300-page document that has become known as the “Lopez Report.” In 1993, the Lopez Report was released in redacted form, available here.
At the committee's 1979 press conference announcing the public committee report, Blakey provided his personal view that the Mafia had been involved in JFK murder planning. He repeated that theme in two books and last month at the AARC conference.
Last month, Blakey says he still believes that Oswald killed Kennedy. Blakey also fielded a question on whether he believed in the commission’s so-called “Single Bullet Theory.”
“Yes!” Blakey responded. The Single Bullet Theory advocated by the Warren Commission majority (but with a dissent long hidden from the public) is that one bullet fired by Oswald caused seven wounds in JFK and Texas Gov. John Connally and then emerged in near-pristine condition. The purported bullet is shown at right after allegedly found on a hospital stretcher.
Why Care About What's Next?
Blakey's criticism of the CIA for lying to congressional investigators is significant regardless of what the still-hidden evidence might show. In a sense, his continued support for the Warren Commission's main conclusions on Oswald's guilt and the Single Bullet theory helps underscore the diversity of those calling for release of secret evidence.
Blakey made his allegations most formally in an eight-page letter, which is now on the AARC website, which contains also a link to his former researcher Hardway's recollections.
Hardway, an attorney based in West Virginia, said he has come to believe that Blakey, while showing a certain "naïveté" toward to the CIA's intentions at the beginning, ultimately did the best he could in gaining access to CIA records in the face of the "political reality" of the agency's power in the nation's capital.
"Given those constraints," Hardway said, "I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Bob for getting us to where we are today."
Regarding ultimate guilt, Hardway wrote in 2013 after remaining away from research for many years, "I still believe it is more probable than not that there was an intelligence operational involvement in the assassination. We may never know how closely Phillips worked with Joannides."
Official Responses To Requests for CIA Documents
Morley and Lesar have identified 1,171 CIA documents that the CIA and Archives have refused to release on national security grounds until 2017. Morley fears the agency will stall again on delivery in 2017. Aside from that prediction, the last witnesses and suspects in the JFK murder are dying off, hindering further investigation.
In response, NARA Public Affairs and Communications Director Miriam Kleiman told me, "We are on track to release the remaining withheld information by 2017, as the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 requires.” She directed me to a 2012 letter from NARA General Counsel Gary M. Stern to Lesar providing reasons for delay.
More generally, Hardway recalled an incident that summarized his observations during his year of work from 1977 to 1978. He said he and Fonzi showed their credentials to a retired CIA officer in Florida prior to an interview.
"So you represent congress," the officer said. "What the f*** is that to the CIA? You'll be gone in a few years, and the CIA will still be here."
"That," Hardway wrote, "really sums up a lot of the problems that we had."
No News Is Good News?
In last month's conference, Blakey said the CIA’s misconduct hurt the Assassination Records Review Board (AARB), which congress created to administer the 1992 JFK Act following public outrage triggered by Oliver Stone’s movie, “JFK.”
“I believe,” Blakey continued, “that this rises to the level of probable violation of the law that prohibits impeding the due and proper inquiry of a committee of Congress....I no longer trust anything that the Agency [the CIA] has told us in regard to the assassination.”
Official Washington mostly ignores these disputes, or treats them as trivia that will vanish in good time.Neither President Obama, nor congress, nor the media have paid much attention. A rare exception in the mainstream media has been Boston Globe reporter Bryan Bender, who attended the AARC conference and published a column Oct. 15, “Answers sought on CIA role in ‘78 JFK probe.”
To date, the CIA has not explained why it misled Robert Blakey, congress, the Warren Commission and the public.
At this point, only an informed public can assess whether the congressional probe was "The Last Investigation" -- or was a stepping stone to a new commitment to the truth about a president's murder that continues to taint American public life.
Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination
* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series
At right is a photo by this editor in Dallas showing Dealey Plaza. The Texas Book Depository Building where Oswald worked is behind the row of trees. The car in the center lane is near the location of President Kennedy's limo at the time of his fatal shooting.
- Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013.
- Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos , Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films in 2013.
- Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. Leading video, events and archives from the last 50 years. *
- Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
- Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
- 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,' Nov. 19, 2013.
- Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013. Self-censorship.
- JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
- JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Dec. 9, 2013. The CIA implicated itself in the cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out. *
- JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Reactions to our Dec. 9 column.
- Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *
- Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears, May 26, 2014. *
- Experts To Reveal Secrets of JFK Murder, Cover-up at Sept. 26-28 DC Forum , Sept. 5, 2014.
- Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later, Sept. 22, 2014. *
- JFK Experts To Explode Myths, Sign Books In DC Sept. 26-28, Sept. 24, 2014.
- Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing, Sept. 27, 2014. *
- JFK Readers Guide: Assassination Books, Reports, Oct. 15, 2014. *
- Former U.S. House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records, Oct. 18, 2014. *
- The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters -- As Does C-SPAN's Coverage, Nov. 11, 2014. *
- JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, Nov. 24, 2014. *
- JFK Assassination Readers Guide To 2013-14 Events, Nov. 28, 2014. *
- CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report, Dec. 1, 2014. *
- Nearly Too Late, Public Learns of Bill Moyers’ Conflicts Over PBS, LBJ, Jan. 2, 2014.
- Why Bill O'Reilly's Lie About JFK's Murder Might Matter To You, March 17, 2015.
- Free Videos Show Shocking Claims About CIA, JFK Murder Probes, June 29, 2015.
National Archives Website
National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), Washington, DC. National Archivist David S. Ferriero, shown at left, is the head of the agency, appointed by the President of the United States. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept forever.
In 1992, Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. The Act mandated that all assassination-related material be housed in a single collection in the NARA. The collection consists of more than 5 million pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and artifacts (approximately 2,000 cubic feet of records). Most of the records are open for research.
JFK researchers may search the NARA online database of recently declassified and still-classified records from the Kennedy assassination investigations. The site provides a Kennedy Assassination Collection Simple Search Form. Some names appear in various forms. For example, records pertaining to Clay Shaw are sometimes coded "CS" while others show up under the search term "Clay Shaw."
C-SPAN3: American History TV, American Artifacts: JFK Assassination Records, Sept. 28, 2014 (1 hour, 29 min.). A visit to National Archives in College Park, Maryland to learn about the vast collection of artifacts related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Martha Wagner Murphy, Head of the Special Access and Freedom of Information Act staff appears to discuss how records are preserved, including the so-called "magic bullet," Oswald's rifle, and the Zapruder film.
C-SPAN, National Declassification Center forum available below via YouTube, Washington, DC, 2012. NARA General Counsel's Gary Stern’s most relevant comment began at 95 minutes into the video and lasted for seven minutes.
Related News Coverage
C-SPAN 3, JFK AARC Warren Report 50th anniversary conference opening, "Conference Preview" by AARC President James H. Lesar and "Current Implications of the JFK Assassination Cover-Up" by historian and author Andrew Kreig with introduction by moderator Alan Dale, Sept. 26, 2014, cablecast Nov. 2, 2014 (55 min.). Researchers talked about assassination related documents that have been declassified in the past 50 years. In September of 1964, the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy released their findings to the public in the “Warren Report” -- named after the commission’s chairman -- Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. This was part of “The Warren Report and the JFK Assassination: A Half Century of Significant Disclosures,” a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the release of the Warren Report. People in this video: "JFK Conversations" Host Alan Dale, AARC President James Lesar and author/attorney Andrew Kreig, speaking on Current Implications of the JFK Assassination Cover-Up.
C-SPAN 3, JFK Assassination and the CIA, Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), Oct. 26, 2014, recorded on Sept. 26, 2014 (90 min.). In "Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City," retired U.S. Army Intelligence officer and former assistant to the NSA director Dr. John M. Newman discussed declassified documents and code-names related to the CIA, Cuba and the assassination. A longtime professor, Newman is the author of JFK and Vietnam and Oswald and the CIA. This is part of a conference by AARC marking the 50th anniversary of the release of the Warren report entitled, The Warren Report and the JFK Assassination: A Half Century of Significant Disclosures. The first of many panels/sessions was on C-SPAN 3.
Other episodes in series:
- In "The HSCA and the CIA," former HSCA researchers Edwin Lopez and Dan Hardway described their time in the late 1970s working for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Sept. 26, 2014, cablecast Nov. 2, 2014 (1:23 hours). Introduction by Alan Dale.
- In "U.S.-Cuba Back-channel Communications After the Bay of Pigs," Dr. Peter Kornbluh, Director of the National Security Archive's Cuba Documentation Project, talked about President Kennedy’s attempts to open up private channels of communication with Cuba. Introduction by Brenda Brody. Sept. 27, 2014.
- In "CIA and the HSCA: How CIA Controlled the HSCA and the Writing of Its Final Report," Dr. Joan Mellen discussed the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) relations with the HSCA. Sept. 27, 2014.
Noted JFK Assassination Researcher Ed 'TreeFrog' Sherry Dies
Baylor University W.R. Poage Legislative Library, JFK Researcher Ed 'TreeFrog' Sherry Passes, Library Director Ben Rogers, October 2014. I only knew Ed 'TreeFrog' Sherry for just a few years through the Dallas conferences. He visited Poage Library a couple of times. On his first visit he immediately noticed that we needed research lockers. He quickly funded the project and continued to support the library. In May when he was facing surgery, he began sending his materials to Waco with the help of a friend. He continued this the entire time he was sick. The final boxes were sent last week and arrived on Tuesday, the day before he died. He even sent his Army dog tags for safe keeping as a reminder of his military intelligence service which served as the background for his later Kennedy research. While he was in the hospital, he took time to write out as best he could a short biography of his military service. This will be added to his web site next week. His generous spirit will continue as he has provided for the long-term care of his papers. Tributes from other JFK educators and researchers here.
JFK Lancer, November in Dallas Conference: 50 Years Since the Warren Report, Nov. 21-22, 2014. Jim Marrs, Gayle Nix Jackson, Bill Simpich, Brian Edwards, Casey Quinlan, Sherry Fiester, Pat Speer, Stu Wexler, Debra Conway, Alan Dale, Larry Hancock, Jim DiEugenio.
Advocacy for Release of Hidden JFK Murder Records
President John F. Kennedy is shown in a file photo with his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson.
OpEdNews, CIA and the National Archives Thwart The JFK Act and Obstruct Democratic Accountability, Jim Lesar (shown in file photo), Sept. 16, 2014. All records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy ("JFK") are already supposed to be public. That's what Congress intended when it unanimously passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 ("JFK Act"). It hasn't happened. The National Archives and the CIA are still withholding thousands of pages of JFK Act records in their entirety, even though it has been more than a half century since the Warren Commission issued its Report on the murder of the President. NARA's actions violate the law and its intent, and severely erode the principle of democratic accountability, on which America's government is based. This violation directly raises the issue of who writes the law, who rules in the United States: the elected representatives of the people in Congress or the intelligence agencies? Over 1,100 CIA files dealing with the John F. Kennedy assassination remain classified in apparent defiance of the JFK Records Act, which requires them to be speedily reviewed and made public.
Boston Globe, Answers sought on CIA role in ‘78 JFK probe; Investigators say files could prove interference, Bryan Bender, Oct. 15, 2014. It was nearly four decades ago that Eddie Lopez was hired by a congressional committee to reinvestigate the 1963 murder of President John F. Kennedy, a role that had him digging through top secret documents at the CIA. In the end, the House Select Committee on Assassinations reported in 1978 that it believed the assassination was probably the result of a conspiracy, although it couldn’t prove that, and its conclusions are disputed by many researchers. But now Lopez is seeking answers to a lingering question: Could still-classified records reveal, as he and some of his fellow investigators have long alleged, that the CIA interfered with the congressional investigation and placed the committee staff under surveillance? “It was time to fight one last time to ascertain what happened to JFK and to our investigation into his assassination,” Lopez, who is now the chief counsel for a school district in Rochester, N.Y., said in an interview. He is joined in the effort by two other former investigators, researcher Dan Hardway and G. Robert Blakey, the panel’s staff director.
AlterNet, Dear Mr. President, It's Time to Obey the Law: Release the JFK Secret Service Records and End Other Needless Secrecy, Thom Hartmann and Lamar Waldron, Sept. 25, 2014. It's time for the Secret Service, CIA, and FBI to obey the law by releasing their 50-year old files, and to pardon the first Secret Service whistleblower. Last week's problems with the Secret Service and White House security also warrant your attention. Secrecy is especially ironic since this week marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the Warren Report, the book-length finding issued by the Warren Commission, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson and chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Secret Service was one of several government agencies--along with the CIA, the FBI, and the Office of Naval Intelligence--that were found by later government committees to have withheld crucial information from the Warren Commission. Congress passed the 1992 JFK Records Act unanimously, to release all of the files related to the JFK assassination, including records about the covert US operations against Cuba in the early 1960s that surfaced in so many of the official JFK investigations. While more than 4 million pages were released, even today the National Archives refuses to say how many pages of files remain secret. Is it 50,000 pages, a figure put forth by some experts? 90,000 pages, a figure extrapolated from CIA fillings in a Freedom of Information lawsuit? Or the figure reported by NBC News in 1998 of "millions" of pages, which was confirmed by a report from OMB Watch, which quoted someone who worked with the National Archives as saying "well over a million CIA records"--not pages, but "records"-- remained unreleased.
WWL AM/FM (New Orleans CBS-affiliate), Eric Holder's resignation as U.S. attorney general, morning host Tommy Tucker (right) interviewed on Sept. 26, 2014 author and Justice Integrity Project Director Andrew Kreig to review of Holder's performance during six years as the Obama administration's Attorney General. A particularly focus of the interview was the issue of transparency, including records the administration continues to hide regarding the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy despite the requirements of disclosure under the 1992 JFK Act unanimously passed by congress.
WND, JFK theorists gather, press for document release, 50th anniversary of controversial Warren Commission Report, Jerome R. Corsi (shown at left), Sept. 27, 2014. On this 50th anniversary of the publication of the Warren Commission Report, the Washington-based Assassinations Archive and Research Center, or AARC, opened a three-day conference Friday featuring an all-star cast of JFK assassination “conspiracy theorists.” AARC President James Lesar began the conference by urging attendees to lobby Congress in support of a Freedom of Information Act request his organization has filed with the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA. AARC is protesting a NARA decision to withhold from the public until at least 2017 more than 1,000 classified government documents on the JFK assassination. Lesar and his organization argue the 1992 JFK Records Act mandated the public release of all JFK assassination files in the government’s archives.
Boston Globe, Government still withholding thousands of documents on JFK assassination, Bryan Bender, Nov. 24, 2013. There were the Pentagon’s top-secret reviews of Lee Harvey Oswald — before and after the assassination. The files about the CIA operative who surveilled the alleged assassin and whose knowledge was purposely hidden from congressional investigators. The sworn testimony of dozens of intelligence officials and organized crime figures dating back nearly four decades. And the government personnel files of multiple figures officially designated as relevant to the investigation. The documents are just some of the collections that the law stipulates are relevant but government archivists acknowledge have not been released to the public a half a century after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
JFK Countercoup, The Air Force One Radio Tapes Update -- The Story Thus Far, Bill Kelly, Oct. 1, 2014.This was a presentation on the Air Force One radio transmission tapes from Nov. 22, 1963 at the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) conference in Washington D.C. When President Kennedy was originally invited to Dallas, LBJ had arranged for him to receive an honorary degree from Texas Christian University (TCU). However, after it was announced, the TCU trustees rescind the invitation, much to the embarrassment of LBJ and the city of Dallas, whose civic leaders invited the President to address their previously scheduled meeting that was to honor those who founded the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, whose director was Arthur Collins of Collins Radio. If you read Kennedy’s "Undelivered Speech," his copy now stained with his blood, his remarks are clearly aimed towards the people who run these defense industries, and he mentions Collins’ graduate research center in the opening paragraph of his remarks. One of the first things Kennedy did as President was to order the recording of all radio communications made from Air Force One when it was in the air as well as the ability to record his telephone calls and Oval Office conversations, recordings he said he would later use when it came time to write his memoirs.x
Boston Globe, A dark corner of Camelot, Bryan Bender, Jan. 23, 2011. 50 years after President Kennedy asked his brother Robert to oust Castro, RFK’s files at the JFK Library remain in family control, largely out of view. Documents on Robert F. Kennedy’s service as attorney general could help fill gaps in the history of US covert operations against Cuba, relations with Fidel Castro, and the Cuban missile crisis, but many are secret. Documents on Robert F. Kennedy’s service as attorney general could help fill gaps in the history of US covert operations against Cuba, relations with Fidel Castro, and the Cuban missile crisis, but many are secret. Stacked in a vault at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester, individually sealed and labeled, are 54 crates of records so closely guarded that even the library director is prohibited from taking a peek. And yet, archivists contend, the trove contains some of the most important records of Cold War history: diaries, notes, phone logs, messages, trip files, and other documents from Robert F. Kennedy’s service as US attorney general, including details about his roles in the Cuban missile crisis and as coordinator of covert efforts to overthrow or assassinate Fidel Castro. A half-century after those critical events, a behind-the-scenes tussle continues over the Kennedy family’s refusal to grant permission for researchers to freely review them. The disagreement lingers even as the JFK Library this month celebrated the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s inauguration by providing “unprecedented’’ access to thousands of records of his presidency. “The RFK papers are among the most valuable, untapped archival resources of foreign policy and domestic history left to be excavated,’’ said Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at George Washington University’s National Security Archive, who has been rebuffed several times in his attempts to gain access to the papers.
JFK Facts, 1,100 JFK documents ignored in Obama’s push to open records, Jefferson Morley (shown at right), May 14, 2013. The Obama administration has declassified 175 batches of long-secret government records, the National Declassification Center announced last week, a milestone in a government-wide push to make public 404 million documents that have been deemed unnecessarily classified. Yet the NDC effort will not make public 1,100 long-suppressed CIA records related to the assassination of President Kennedy. Why not? The National Archives says the CIA lacks the “time and resources” to review the records, which were known to, but not reviewed by, the staff of the independent Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s.
In a public forum last summer, NDC and National Archives announced they would not challenge the CIA’s claim. The records will now be released in 2017 at the earliest, and maybe not even then. The CIA’s claim that it lacks the time and resources is curious. The agency has had the time and resources to review and release records related to the Katyn Forest massacre of 1942 in which Soviet army killed thousands of Polish military officers, a tragedy in which no Americans died. The NDC has boasted publicly about declassifying records about “How to build a flying saucer,” not exactly a matter of widespread public interest. Yet the NDC and CIA officials contend — with straight faces — that they lack the time and resources to review and release records related to the murder of a sitting American president. The CIA itself deemed the records to be related to JFK’s assassination in the 1970s. In 1976. Agency officials collected the files from agency archives as they prepared to respond to the first congressional investigation of JFK’s death. The records were not shared with the House Select Committee on Assassinations unless they specifically asked for them. The CIA now claims that the records are “Not Believed Relevant” to JFK’s assassination. That claim has never been confirmed by anyone outside of the agency and is probably factually incorrect.
In two posts earlier this year: JFK Facts identified seven especially important JFK files among the 1,171 documents requested from the Archives and CIA.
- E. Howard Hunt, former Watergate burglar, who made a video for his son late in life in which he insinuated that CIA officers had plotted against JFK’s life. The CIA retains six files on Hunt’s operations containing 332 pages of material.
- David Phillips, the chief of anti-Castro operations in 1963, who oversaw the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City six weeks before JFK’s assassination and who gave contradictory and evasive testimony to investigators. Phillips also organized a CIA-sponsored assassination conspiracy to kill a top general in Chile in 1970, according to the non-profit National Security Archive at George Washington University. The CIA retains four files containing 606 pages of material on Phillips.
- William K. Harvey, the one-time chief of the CIA’s assassination program who was known for his hatred of the Kennedys. Harvey’s biographer, a former CIA officer turned Newsweek correspondent, devoted a whole chapter of his book to examining allegations that Harvey was involved in JFK’s murder. The CIA retains one file on Harvey containing 123 pages of material.
- David Sanchez Morales, deputy chief of the CIA’s Miami station in 1963, who later boasted of being involved in JFK’s death, according to a friend. “We took care of that SOB,” he reportedly said. The CIA is keeping secret a 61-page administrative file on Morales.
- George Joannides, chief of psychological warfare operations in Miami in 1963, whose agents in the Cuban exile community took the lead in publicizing Lee Harvey Oswald’s pro-Castro activities before and after JFK was killed. In 1978 Joannides misled congressional investigators about his role in the events of 1963. In 1981 he received a CIA medal for his actions. The CIA is keeping 295 documents about Joannides secret in their entirety.