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.
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.
“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.”
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?
As the United States and Cuba prepare to open embassies in Havana and Washington on Monday, the The Washington Postreports:
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
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.
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.
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 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