& Hot off the presses: A letter containing four recommendations to the keeper of our national records, particularly those records relating to the JFK assassination more than a half-century ago. Congress should have issued these recommendations, forcefully, to the National Archivist last year. It didn’t. What else is new?
Over the years, Yr’s Truly has had numerous opportunities to meet and talk with all of those who have signed this letter. I’m certain they would appreciate more than cursory attention to what they have written, and would be grateful for any support that you may give to their cause. It is your cause, too.
Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, has given years to building the foundation’s impressive database of JFK-assassination-related material. He, and those who have joined him in signing this letter, KNOW THEIR STUFF. I want you to know that they all are intelligent, responsible, reasonable, logical, and dedicated individuals. None is a conspiracy kook. They’ve been at this quest for the truth – whatever it may be — for a long time, and they do not deal in alt-facts. They wait with us for access to the real facts. All of them.
The JFK Records Act of 1992 required the National Archivist to publicly release virtually all JFK assassination records of government agencies – CIA, FBI, NSA and all the rest – by Oct. 26 of last year. Although the Act gave the President authority to block release of individual records for limited security purposes, Trump postponed the release of more than 350,000 still-secret pages for another six months, saying – with a straight face — the agencies needed more time than the quarter-century they’ve already had to “re-review” these musty documents for possible security “concerns.” He later indicated he will make up his own rules on which records will remain secret beyond the new deadline date of April 26.
Congress should have been pissed. Its Act was violated. It wasn’t pissed.
Our vaunted watchdogs — the national media — should have been pissed. Its right to know was violated. It wasn’t pissed.
There has been nary a whimper from Congress. There has been woefully shallow reporting from our national media.
This morning we learned that added to well-known uncertainties of leadership and direction in many of the affected agencies we have a change at the top of the CIA. Will there now be more foot-dragging based on unfounded excuses? Another round of kicking the can down the road? Another deadline-not-met? More ho-hum from the media? More silence from Congress? Don’t bet against it.
If not of concern to those elected to the People’s House, then perhaps the matter is left to the People who elect them. Much has been learned from the records and portions of records previously released. Given the government’s ferocious fight to keep hiding the remainder of those records – those that are obviously the toughest for secret-keepers to cough up — it’s a good bet that there is much more to be learned. A mosaic is being filled in, piece by piece — it looks nothing like the picture painted years ago by our government.
We all should demand respect for the Congress that passed the Act to force release of all records, and to the President who signed it more than 25 years ago, and force an end to this blatant, arrogant violation of our law and our right to know.
This old gringo hopes you’ll take a few moments to review the following letter. I’ve highlighted some points that cannot be ignored, unless we’ve given up altogether on the rule of law and the respect for the body that makes it. You might want to copy it and send it to Mr. Ferriero, or to others on your list who may have some impact on reversing this display of governmental malfeasance. You may even want to express your own ‘disappointment’; maybe even your outrage. I hope you will add your voice.
& Pissed, I’m outta here.
What follows is a letter from the Mary Ferrell Foundation, sponsor of the largest online archive of JFK assassination records, to David Ferriero, National Archivist. The letter makes four recommendations for the improving the release of the last of the U.S. government’s JFK assassination files, now scheduled for April 26, per written orders of President Trump, issued last October.
March 11, 2018 Rex Bradford, President, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Mr. David Ferriero Archivist of the United States
Dear Mr. Ferriero,
The Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization engaged in an ongoing effort to bring accessible and interactive history to a new generation of critical thinkers. As host to the Internet’s largest collection of JFK assassination records, accessed by thousands of persons daily, MFF seeks fulfillment of the letter and the spirit of the JFK Assassination Records of 1992 mandating disclosure of all government records on the events of November 1963.
The Foundation wants to express concern about the ongoing declassification process, offer our expertise in support of improving it, and recommend four actions for you and your staff.
We have conducted an analysis of the state of the JFK records releases based on these four sources:
2016 Listing – A 2016 Archives-produced listing of 3,571 documents that at that time were withheld in full (FOIA NARA-NGC-2016-000132).
Releases – Six sets of document releases in 2017 on 7/24, 10/26, 11/03, 11/09, 11/17, and 12/15.
2018 Listing – A 2018 Archives-produced listing of 798 withheld and 21092 redacted documents still to be released (FOIA NARA-NGC-2018-000072).
JFK Database – The official Archives database of metadata for JFK records.
While over 35,000 documents have been released in 2017 before and since the statutory deadline of October 26, 2017, a great deal of material remains withheld or redacted. The 2018 listing indicates that 21,890 documents, comprising over 368,000 pages, are still withheld in full or in part. Based on our analysis, we believe the true number is even higher, as will be discussed in this letter.
The JFK Records Act mandates disclosure of virtually all of this material. The view of Judge John Tunheim [who chaired the Congressionally-mandated Assassination Records Review Board of the 1990s] is that this material can and should be released in full; we concur and share his disappointment that it did not happen by the statutory deadline. President Trump has expressed the view that only the names of living informants should be withheld from released JFK files after April 28, 2018. Our view is that the names of living informants should be disclosed as well, and in any case current withholding is far beyond that limited scope.
Recommended Action #1: Release all JFK files in their entirety.
To that end, we are concerned that the release of partially redacted JFK material has not been accompanied by explanations for continued withholding, as required by Section 4 (3)(e) of the JFK Records Act.
This law requires the ARRB to “publish in the Federal Register a notice that summarizes the postponements approved by the Review Board or initiated by the President, the House of Representatives, or the Senate, including a description of the subject, originating agency, length or other physical description, and each ground for postponement that is relied upon.”
Section 5 (g) (2) (D) (i) and (ii) requires any postponement to be justified by “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.”
While the ARRB no longer exists, this provision is still in force. The failure to provide explanation for the current postponements constitutes non-compliance with the Act.
Recommended Action #2: We believe it is your duty, under the law, to require all agencies to provide and publish in the Federal Register explanations for each and every postponed document (or portion of a document) before you certify that all JFK records have been released.
The JFK Records Act also states “no portion of any assassination record shall be withheld from public disclosure solely on grounds of non-relevance,” unless the ARRB decides otherwise. Since the ARRB no longer exists, non-relevance cannot be grounds for continued postponement.
The MFF is concerned about anomalies found in our analysis of the 2016 and 2018 listings, as compared with the 2017 listings and the JFK Database. Of several issues and anomalies discovered, two data points in particular require your attention:
MFF has identified 375 JFK records that seem to have fallen through the cracks. These are records that were listed in the 2016 listing but not released, and yet not present in the 2018 listing. Was this an error in the 2018 listing, or are these documents no longer scheduled for release?
Recommended Action #3: MFF recommends full disclosure of any and all JFK documents identified as JFK records by the ARRB, in particular those 375 which appeared in the 2016 listing but are no longer referenced.
We have identified 795 documents that have been released but do not appear at all in the official online NARA database of JFK records. For example, the National Security Agency released 244 JFK records in 2017 that are not listed in the database. Our question: are there other non-disclosed JFK documents from NSA or other agencies that are not in the 2018 listing or scheduled for release? The JFK Records Act (section 4) requires that “The Archivist shall prepare and publish a subject guidebook and index to the collection”; no complete index currently exists.
Recommended Action #4: MFF recommends that the database be updated with the latest information from all government agencies to ensure accountability and public confidence in the disclosure process.
We would be happy to supply further details, including listings of which record numbers are being referenced in the counts above.
In closing, we thank your and the Archives staff, led by Martha Murphy Wagner, for your diligence in making the JFK Records Collection available to the public. As the most popular and studied body of records in the Archives, the JFK collection deserves your closest attention.
Rex Bradford President, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Debra Conway Vice-President, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Jefferson Morley Board Member, Mary Ferrell Foundation
William Simpich Board Member, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Larry Hancock Board Member, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Marie Fonzi Board Member, Mary Ferrell Foundation
For some recent background on this matter:
and numerous articles on the subject at Jeff Morley’s jfkfacts.org, including this: