Former CIA official on JFK secrecy: ‘You do great harm to the public record’

 After a speech on CSPAN about the impact of Edward Snowden’s revelations by William Nolte, a former CIA counterintelligence official, Karl Golovian asked him about the 1,100 JFK records that the CIA is still keeping secret until October 2017.

Nolte, a critic of Oliver Stone, responded that it sounded like a classic case of over-classification and a disservice to the public, but….

Watch a clip of Nolte’s comments here.

Nolte said:

“I do think that there are 1,100 files from that period there still sitting classified … and we all know we classify too much and keep it too long….This goes back to my concern about Venona [a U.S. counterilligence operation in the late 1940). When you have a public dispute of this sort and you’re sitting on records that can help resolve that dispute, you do great harm to the public record.”

The Venona files, kept secret for decades, clarified the long-standing controversy over Alger Hiss, the former State Department official accused of being a communist. The Venona files indicated that Hiss had been a source for Soviet intelligence.

Nolte’s comment is obviously true and welcome. But when asked if he would support the release of the JFK records, Nolte stammered and said “No.”

That was telling too. Post-Snowden, the secrecy system can be challenged in principal but challenging on the specific issue of JFK records is still a bridge too far for this CIA man

You can watch Nolte’s entire comments here. He comments on Stone’s “JFK” around the 7:25 mark.

6 thoughts on “Former CIA official on JFK secrecy: ‘You do great harm to the public record’”

  1. History is written by the victors? This aphorism is at the core of the theory shared by some that the Texas School Book Depository was not chosen at random (as esoteric as that argument may seem).

    Relating to the rewriting of history, most recently there was a move within the Texas educational system to do just that:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=0

    Relating to Joe McCarthy’s blacklist (and its relationship to the Venona Project), Texan John Henry Faulk successfully challenged McCarthy’s witchhunt:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49uOfSjZSu4

    But now the Texas Board of Education wants to rewrite that history?

    I think Nolte and American citizens in similar positions need to step up and risk their reputations for the greater good. This is not about over classification, a red herring in my view. This is about the ongoing abuse of power.

  2. To William Nolte my response is: people than enslave a nation’s history in secrecy do its citizens great harm. Explain to your kids why their teacher can’t teach them their history because the people you work for won’t allow it.

  3. The withheld files are probably over-classified, like the Venona files. That’s telling.

    The Venona files when released backed the prosecution of Alger Hiss. So we’re to believe, I assume, the withheld JFK files back the-Oswald-did-it story. If so, let’s see the files. I’d like nothing more than certainty that some person(s), anyone, killed JFK. If the arrow points without doubt at Oswald, so be it. At this point, however, there’s far too much doubt except for those who are credulous or biased.

    Nolte is no friend of the JFK assassination research community. Good for Karl Golovin.

    1. I think you guys misheard what he really said. Go back and listen closely.

      In response to the first comment from the questioner, Nolte essentially agreed with the potential problem of the files continuing to be withheld and likened it to the issue of “over-classification” that he had touched on before in the context of the Venona Project.

      The follow-up question was if he (Nolte) “had any advice ON HOW the Agency could be prompted to go ahead and disclose those records”? It was not a request for his direct or indirect support.

      “I really can’t give that much advice as to how to get that done. It is not a perfect process. Every agency is its own master.”

      I personally saw his answer as being a lament that there is no consistency or philosophy of declassification across the government, but I clearly got the sense he favors releasing any and all of the still held JFK documents ASAP.

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