I recently enjoyed speaking with Jacob Hornberger about the secrecy surrounding thousands of JFK assassination records on his DIY talk show “The Libertarian Angle.”
Tag Archive for National Archives
The JFK Facts report on Tuesday that the National Archives retains approximately 3,600 documents related to JFK’s assassination that have never been made public is the most specific accounting of still-secret JFK records yet.
Yet it is far from complete.
Some background on yesterday’s post: 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.
The U.S. government retains approximately 3,600 records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that have never been made public, according to the latest count of the National Archives.
Martha Murphy, a National Archives official, told a public forum in Washington on April 10, that only .01 percent of the JFK Assassination Records Collection at the Archives has not been made public. In a follow-up email with JFK Facts. Murphy acknowledged that she had misplaced the decimal point. The actual figure is 1.1 percent, she said. Read more
The National Archives responds to the wishes of the public.
That’s the good news from yesterday’s forum at the Archives building in Washington, D.C. In her lengthy and detailed statement, Martha Murphy, de facto chief of the JFK Assassination Records Collection, laid out the Archives’ plan for the release of thousands of pages of assassination-related records by October 2017.
In the past, JFK Facts has taken Archivist David Ferreiro and his staff to task for their passive position on the continuing stonewalling of the CIA, which retains more than 1,100 assassination-related records and has insisted on redactions of hundreds of thousands of other documents.
Now the Archives is taking a more proactive role. In her remarks at the forum, JFK archivist Martha Murphy made clear that the Archives is proceeding on the assumption that the CIA and other agencies will release all of their JFK records and remove all of redactions on JFK records, as mandated by law, in October 2017, unless specifically ordered by the White House. Under the terms of the JFK Records Act, federal agencies can only continue to postpone release of documents with the approval of the White House. By default the records will become public.
This is the appropriate public stance for the Archives to take because that is what the JFK Records Act requires. That’s rather different than the public position the Archives took two years ago. At a public forum in August 2013, Archives general counsel Gary Stern gratuitously told citizens demanding the enforcement of the JFK Records Act that there was no “conspiracy” to keep records out of public view. Stern also regurgitated the CIA’s absurd talking point that it didn’t have “the time or resources” to declassify JFK records.
JFK Facts pointed out that the agency somehow found the time and resources to declassify its records about the Katyn Forest massacre in Poland in 1941, a tragic and historically important event to be sure but one in which, unlike the tragedy of Dallas, no Americans lost their lives.
When the National Declassification Center’s blog asked for public suggestions for what records should receive priority when it came to declassification, the largest number of comments by far came from people urging the release of JFK records. The public’s overwhelming preference was ignored in favored of the CIA’s prerogatives.
When I expressed some bitterness about this state of affairs, well-placed Washington friends assured me the Archives was doing all that it could behind the scenes, that Ferreiro and Stern favored full disclosure, and that public criticism would accomplish nothing. I’m willing to believe that. I know Stern personally favors full disclosure, and I trust Ferreiro does too. All of that is beside the point.
The National Archives does not work for the CIA. The National Archives works for the American people and the JFK Records Act, passed in 1992, is clear: all government records must be “immediately” reviewed and released. For the CIA to say, two decades after the passage of that law, that it lacks the “time and resources” to come clean about the murder of a sitting president was not only extraordinarily revealing about the agency’s everyday contempt for the memory of President Kennedy. It was — and is — an evasion of the law.
The National Archives deserves credit for putting the CIA (and other) agencies on notice that it expects compliance with the law by October 2017. This doesn’t mean the CIA cannot and will not seek postponement of some records. If there is no public attention to the issue, I think they probably will.
The National Archives is getting serious about a big JFK records data dump in October 2017, according to officials who spoke at a public meeting in Washington today.
At the 25:00 mark in this video Martha Murphy of the National Archives outlines plans for declassification of still-classified JFK files in 2017.
A JFK Facts reader was there and filed this report.
POLITICO has picked up on a story that I first reported on JFK Facts in May 2013.
“We drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value records,” writes David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, in the Third Open Government Plan released yesterday.
The report makes clear what “high value records” the public wants to see. When the Archives sought input in April about the government’s declassification priorities, nineteen commenters called for release of JFK assassination records. That was almost 40 percent of all comments received and more than double the number of comments on any other subject. (See p. 42 of the report.)
So what did Ferriero do?
“Stone’s movie, [David] Belin’s speech, and the likelihood of congressional action prompted several commission lawyers to discuss how we might best respond to the movie and support legislation making assassination records public ….”
From the invaluable Bryan Bender at the The Boston Globe: “Some experts contend that the only way to ensure public access is for the president to give broader declassification powers to the National Archives.”
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. See our authoritative list of the Top 7 JFK files the CIA still keeps secret.
You can do something about it.
One JFK Facts reader has submitted the comment below:
In case you missed it, JFK activist Karl Golovin got a retired CIA counterintelligence officer, Willam Nolte, to say on camera that the agency’s extreme overclassification of 1,100 ancient JFK assassination records does “great harm to the historical record.”