The Obama administration has declassified 175 batches of long-secret government records, the National Declassification Center announced last week, a milestone in a government-wide push to make public 404 million documents that have been deemed unnecessarily classified.
Yet the NDC effort will not make public 1,100 long-suppressed CIA records related to the assassination of President Kennedy. Why not?
The existence of the secret records was revealed by the chief of the CIA’s Public Information Programs Division, Delores Nelson, in a sworn affidavit, filed in federal court in connection with my lawsuit seeking the files of deceased CIA officer George Joannides.
The National Archives says the CIA lacks the “time and resources” to review the records, which were known to, but not reviewed by, the staff of the independent Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s. In a public forum last summer, NDC and National Archvives announced they would not challenge the CIA’s claim. The records will now be released in 2017 at the earliest, and maybe not even then.
The CIA’s claim that it lacks the time and resources is curious. The agency has had the time and resources to review and release records related to the Katyn Forest massacre of 1942 in which Soviet army killed thousands of Polish military officers, a tragedy in which no Americans died. The NDC has boasted publicly about declassifying records about “How to build a flying saucer,” not exactly a matter of widespread public interest.
Yet the NDC and CIA officials contend — with straight faces — that they lack the time and resources to review and release records related to the murder of a sitting American president.
The CIA itself deemed the records to be related to JFK’s assassination in the 1970s. In 1976. Agency officials collected the files from agency archives as they prepared to respond to the first congressional investigation of JFK’s death. The records were not shared with the House Select Committee on Assassinations unless they specifically asked for them. The CIA now claims that the records are “Not Believed Relevant” to JFK’s assassination.
That claim has never been confirmed by anyone outside of the agency and is probably factually incorrect.
In two posts earlier this year: JFK Facts has identified seven important JFK files among the 1,100 documents.
These files concern the secret operations of
- E. Howard Hunt, former Watergate burglar, who made a video for his son late in life in which he insinuated that CIA officers had plotted against JFK’s life. The CIA retains six files on Hunt’s operations containing 332 pages of material.
- David Phillips, the chief of anti-Castro operations in 1963, who oversaw the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City six weeks before JFK’s assassination and who gave contradictory and evasive testimony to investigators. Phillips also organized a CIA-sponsored assassination conspiracy to kill a top general in Chile in 1970, according to the non-profit National Security Archive at George Washington University. The CIA retains four files containing 606 pages of material on Phillips.
- William K. Harvey, the one-time chief of the CIA’s assassination program who was known for his hatred of the Kennedys. Harvey’s biographer, a former CIA officer turned Newsweek correspondent, devoted a whole chapter of his book to examining allegations that Harvey was involved in JFK’s murder. The CIA retains one file on Harvey containing 123 pages of material.
- David Sanchez Morales, deputy chief of the CIA’s Miami station in 1963, who later boasted of being involved in JFK’s death, according to a friend. “We took care of that SOB,” he reportedly said. The CIA is keeping secret a 61-page administrative file on Morales.
- George Joannides, chief of psychological warfare operations in Miami in 1963, whose agents in the Cuban exile community took the lead in publicizing Lee Harvey Oswald’s pro-Castro activities before and after JFK was killed. In 1978 Joannides misled congressional investigators about his role in the events of 1963. In 1981 he received a CIA medal for his actions. The CIA is keeping 295 documents about Joannides secret in their entirety.
The Obama administration fully supports the CIA’s concealment of these records. On the other hand, if you want to know how to build a flying saucer, you government has public the documents you want.