Russ Holmes, keeper of the CIA’s JFK secrets, dies

Russ Holmes, CIA's JFK archvist

Russ Holmes, CIA’s JFK archivist

The narrative of Libra, Don DeLillo’s lucid novel about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, is propelled by the ruminations of one Nicholas Branch,a mid-level CIA man in post-60s America. A civil servant, Branch is ordered by anonymous superiors to pull together everything the Agency has on “the six seconds that broke the back of the American century.”

As Branch takes on this Sisyphean task he marvels at the enormity and complexity and opacity of the CIA’s record related to the events that culminated with the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas. As he sifts through the case officer reports, the fitness evaluations, the budgets, and the op plans, the story of Libra unspools.

Russ Holmes, whose death in December was recently announced, was a real-life Nicholas Branch.

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Will Jeb Bush follow his father on JFK secrecy?

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush ‘s JFK moment

One question facing Republican presidential candidate Jeb BUsh  is whether he would, as president, allow U.S. government agencies to continue to withhold 3,600 JFK assassination records from public view after their scheduled release in October 2017.

One reader thinks President Jeb Bush would decide in favor of JFK secrecy. He calls attention to what Jeb’s father said on the issue, particularly George H.W. Bush’s signing statement attached to the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Act.

The first President Bush stated: Read more

Has anybody looked at the new Edward Lansdale records?

Its fun to sit around and chew the fat about the dubious theory that Edward Lansdale was in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963 but Read more

Bill Harvey: ‘Phoney 201 [file] … all documents therein forged and backdated’

“Should have phoney 201 in RI [Records Integration] to backstop this, all documents therein forged & backdated. Should look like a CE file …. Cover: planning should include provision for blaming Sovs or Czechs in case of blow.”

Excerpt from “Project ZRRIFLE” notes, created in December 1960, by Bill Harvey, the CIA officer in charge of this assassinations project.

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Robert Groden: his JFK life depicted in Dutch documentary

And here is the real fascination of this film. It’s just not that simple. It’s not as easy as dismissing Robert Groden as a nutcase. He’s weird. He’s way unusual. He’s obsessive as hell. But how do we know — Do we know? — that obsession is automatically or always wrong or destructive? What if he’s right?

From Dallas Observer: Dutch Documentary Portrays Dallas Conspiracy Guy  Read more

A truth commission could help pave the road to normal U.S.-Cuba relations

As the United States and Cuba prepare to open embassies in Havana and Washington on Monday, the The Washington Post reports:

The two governments have made clear that opening their embassies is only the first step on a long road to “normalization” and that they have many remaining differences on issues including the ongoing U.S. economic embargo, human rights and outstanding legal claims against each other.

One trait the two governments have in common is the practice of extraordinary official secrecy around records related to the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 and the many U.S.-based assassination attempts against Cuban president Fidel Castro. Read more

Are the tax records of Lee Harvey Oswald still secret?

No. They were not available for many years leading to speculation that Oswald might have had other sources of income. Oswald’s tax returns were made public in 1996 with the permission of his widow, Marina Oswald Porter. You can view them here.

National Archives details plans for mass JFK declassification in 2017


Martha Murphy of the National Archives explains the JFK Records Act and the Archives’ plans for declassifying and releasing long secret assassination-related documents held by the U.S. government in October 2017.

Our Man in Mexico: ‘Really great’

Rob writes: “I just finished Our Man in Mexico and wanted to tell you it was really great.” Read more

The JFK question for 2016 candidates

Here’s a question for the presidential contenders of 2016:

Will you declare “unequivocally” your intention to release the remaining JFK assassinations records in 2017?

It is a basic test of the candidates’ commitment to open government and rule of law.

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Gary Mack dies; called attention to JFK acoustic evidence

Gary Mack, curator of The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallasand a nationally known authority on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, has died.

Mack made two important contributions to the JFK story.

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New records surface on General Lansdale and Cuba

The National Declassification Center announced yesterday the release of long-classified records on General Edward Lansdale and Cuba that may help complete the historical record of the end of the Kennedy administration.

The records include:

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More about JFK Primary Sources

In response to yesterday’s post, a man named Will writes that he is the creator of JFK Primary Sources:
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JFK on secrecy: ‘the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts’

“…The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it….And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment….”

President John F. Kennedy’s speech at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, April 27, 1961

 

 

JFK Primary Sources Web site amplifies the historical record

JFK Primary Sources is a new Web site that aggregates an impressive array of links about the assassination of President Kennedy and about U.S. history. The only problem?  Read more