Judge Tunheim says JFK files were ‘probably unlawfully withheld’ by CIA

Judge Tunheim

Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the JFK Assassination Records Review Board.

At a Washington press conference Thursday, Judge John Tunheim called for the release of all the government’s files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy later this year.

Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Incredibly enough, thousands of pages of government files related to his murder remain secret, 54 years later.

“It’s time to release them all,” Tunheim said. “There’s no real reason to protect this information.”

Some 3,500 JFK documents remain secret, according to the National Archives data base,

Most of these records were generated by the CIA and FBI. The JFK Records Act of 1992, requires these records to be released by October 26, 2017, or for the president to approve continued secrecy

[The Mary Ferrell Foundation has the best guide to what will happen in October 2017]

The files, Tunheim said, were only cursorily reviewed by the ARRB staff in 1998,  At that time, he said the board determined that the records were “Not Believed Relevant” to the assassination.

But that may no longer be true, he added

George Joannides

George Joannides, CIA officer who stonewalled JFK investigators

“What we thought was not relevant back then might be quite relevant in 2017,” Tunheim said, citing the case of George Joannides, a deceased CIA officer.

“We didn’t think he was that important,” Tunheim said, “and we later learned we were wrong.”

The board declassified a handful of records about his work with anti-Castro Cubans in Miami in 1963, not knowing that Joannides had stonewalled Congressional investigators in 1978 about those very same Cubans who had a series of encounters with Oswald in New Orleans three months before JFK was killed.

Additional files on Joannides were “probably unlawfully withheld by the agency,” Tunheim said. “I don’t know that for a fact but it seems likely.”

What will Trump do?

Tunheim said he had not heard from the Trump administration about the upcoming JFK deadline. “The White House Counsel should know about this,” he said.

The unseen CIA files cover the operational activities of senior agency officers implicated in the JFK story in one way or another. They include the files of veteran officers David Phillips and Anne Goodpasture, who knew about Oswald’s travels, politics, and foreign contacts before JFK was killed; and Bill Harvey and David Morales who were involved in CIA assassination operations in 1963.

See: “7 JFK Files the CIA still keeps secret.”


John Newman, Jim Lesar and I also spoke at the news conference. I will post the video and additional coverage soon.


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