For 29 years and two months, the CIA redacted the words “with the Australia security service” from this JFK document on the grounds that its disclosure would cause an “identifiable harm” to national security.
The truth is this anodyne information could have been released long ago. Would it really threaten U.S. national security in the 21st century to know that the CIA made a phone call to their Australian counterparts a half century ago? Would any American adversary or enemy benefit today from learning this unsurprising fact? Is ISIS or the Chinese Communist Party going to gain some advantage? The logic is tortured.
Some people say this is an example of the secrecy system on autopilot. CIA types will argue, “It might be obvious that the U.S and Australian secret services communicate with each other but if we don’t acknowledge the relationship, we maintain the confidence of an ally.”
But in the context of JFK assassination records, where the CIA has a long record of deceit and delay, I see another dynamic at work. The purpose of this type of declassification is to generate headlines that give the impression that the CIA is in compliance with the JFK Records while delaying release of 90 percent of the still-secret documents for another year and maybe longer.
Meanwhile, documents on Operation Northwoods and AMSPELL remain redacted, along with files on the CIA officers who were informed about Lee Harvey Oswald’s politics, personality, and foreign travels before Kennedy was killed. As I told the Washington Post, the JFK declassification process is a “ruse.”