About 30,000 JFK files were supposed to be fully released yesterday. The American people only got 2800.
By using the 2800 figure and comparing it to the touted 3100 figure, Trump’s people apparently hoped that the busy media would not realize how badly he had dropped the ball. I can assure you that The Washington Post and The New York Times completely missed it. Even the well-respected NBC News (and many other outlets) got it wrong, saying “2891 of at least 3140“ were released, falling into Trump’s trap.
Almost 30,000 documents remain concealed from the American people.
How many of the touted 3100 got released yesterday? Jimmy Falls at WhoWhatWhy did a careful count and told me he came up with 52.
What has happened completely violates the JFK Act of 1992, which was designed to ensure that all the records of the assassination went into the hands of the people.
The JFK Act states that “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 enactment of this Act, 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.”
Trump’s excuse was basically that the big dog ate his homework. You can read it here. He wrote that there is going to be a “temporary withholding” to find out if the documents qualify for continued postponement.
The law says “no later than 25 years” unless there is an identifiable harm. Trump had to resort to asking for an additional six months to see if there was an identifiable harm. Sorry. Time is up.
What’s in these documents? More things you can imagine. Here are a few quick examples:
This newly released 1975 CIA memo mentions how “one summary paper covers our involvement in research on techniques for influencing human behavior and on methods of protecting Agency personnel against hostile use of drugs or “brain working” techniques.”
Newly lifted redactions reveal that two weeks before the assassination, LITAMIL-9 (Luis Alberu Soeto) met with CIA officer Robert Shaw (known as “Lawrence Barker”). A Cuban embassy employee, Alberu monitored the compound for the CIA. Sylvia Duran was the secretary at the Cuban consulate who interviewed Oswald when he sought a visa to go to Cuba two months before the JFK assassination.
Sylvia is still alive, and perhaps the most important witness on the report that Lee Oswald tried to obtain a visa to visit Cuba in September 1963 in Mexico City. Sylvia has stated repeatedly that she did not place a tapped phone call with Lee Oswald to the Soviet consulate. If Sylvia is telling the truth, it would indicate that both her voice and Oswald’s voice were impersonated on the telephone, as documented in the wiretap transcripts. (Full disclosure: I wrote about this story in my online book State Secret).
Many have accused Sylvia of being a CIA agent. This document proves that she was not, as Shaw reported that LITAMIL-9 advised him that he thinks “Sylvia is a very intelligent girl. He thinks we might be able to gain her cooperation by getting a desirable male next to her – she is, according to L-9, ‘a little putita.’“
The release of a redaction on a “Harvey Lee Oswald” document. “Harvey Lee Oswald” is an inversion of Lee Oswald’s name – many believe this was routinely done by various agencies so that the agency could truthfully say that it had no file on “Lee Harvey Oswald.” The CIA had a large number of “Lee Henry Oswald“ files right up until that day in Dallas.
This 1972 “Harvey Lee Oswald” document needs some context. The CIA Director had issued a directive saying that no source or defector could be asked any questions about Oswald.
It reveals that Jane Curtis had to return any questions that she had about Oswald to her boss. Curtis had worked on the Oswald investigation since the time of the assassination. She was not allowed to pose them to defector Oleg Lyalin.
Who was Lyalin? A Soviet specialist on “wet affairs” (assassinations). Lyalin told the US that the “Department 13 assassination program” had ended as early as 1959. This was extremely damaging to the notion that Oswald had gone to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City to speak with KGB agent Valeriy Kostikov, who was supposedly an active member of the “wet affairs” at Department 13. It was this story that convinced Chief Justice Earl Warren to lead the Warren Commission – LBJ told him that a war with the Soviets would result in 40 million American dead.
There are many more stories like these waiting to be explored. The Mary Ferrell Foundation has scanned more than a million of these documents with walkthroughs that take the reader through the various Cold War histories and controversies. It’s a fascinating process. Students in New Jersey have drafted a Cold Case Act to study the civil rights murders of the 20th Century using a similar approach.
There was nothing fascinating about what happened yesterday. Today’s media decision makers were massively unprepared for the clash between Trump and the intelligence agencies.
The intelligence agencies won. They generally do. They are the big dogs.
The mass media, like the intelligence agencies, realize how badly they blew it in 1963. Both sectors continue to justify their institutional failure. They can’t tell the story straight. It’s like reverse muscle memory.
Lessons learned? Interested in analyzing the problems with intelligence, then and now? Thanks to Trump, we have a six-month window to conduct a clinic on how to do your homework. Let’s try to get it right.
Bill Simpich is an Oakland attorney who knows that it doesn’t have to be like this. He was part of the legal team chosen by Public Justice as Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2003 for winning a jury verdict of 4.4 million in Judi Bari’s lawsuit against the FBI and the Oakland police.