More missing JFK records: the vanishing Church Committee files

Frank Church
Sen. Frank Church

Rex Bradford has illuminates another batch of still-secret JFK records: the files of the Senate committee that conducted the most comprehensive review of U.S. intelligence operations ever.

If you want to understand, the ongoing JFK coverup, you will want to read Bradford’s deep dive on the Missing Church Committee transcripts. It is a useful antidote to the comforting illusion that “the government can’t keep a secret.”

The Church Committee, named after its ambitious liberal chairman, Senator Frank Church, also investigated the CIA’s response to the assassination of President Kennedy in 1975-76.

The missing Church Committee records confirm that the government is keeping secrets about:

  • U.S. intelligence operations in New Orleans in the summer of 1963;
  • about CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders; and
  • about how the FBI investigated JFK’s death.

While this information is kept secret in the name of “national security,” it extremely unlikely that there is much truly sensitive information in these thousands of pages of records. The release of this information would not endanger Americans. It would embarrass the government.

Lost and Found

The good news is that some of this material is scheduled to become public in October 2017, including:

  • Secret testimony of CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton who suspected the KGB was behind JFK’s murder.
  • Interview with William Attwood, the State Department official who handled secret negotiations with Cuba at the time of JFK’s assassination.

The bad news is that a group of more important Church Committee records are missing altogether, namely the transcripts of closed-door interviews with the FBI supervisors who worked on the JFK case in 1963 and 1964.

All of these men are now dead, so their knowledge of how the assassination was investigation cannot be recovered any other way.

“The missing transcripts – almost all of those interviewed – is one clue that something unusual is afoot here,” Bradford observes.

“And then there are names like Orest Pena, the New Orleans bar owner who told the House Select Committee on Assassinations that “he was an FBI informant who reported to Warren D. deBrueys…on several occasions he saw [Lee Harvey] Oswald in the company of deBrueys and other Government agents…”

The transcript of the Church Committee’s interview with Orest Pena is missing too.


Bradford’s careful detective work illuminates something that Senator Richard Schweicker, the Pennsylvania Republican who served on the Church Committee, said regarding Oswald, “Everywhere you look with him there are the fingerprints of intelligence.”

“It seems we may never know for sure,” Bradford writes. “The most we can learn from missing records is the pattern created by the empty space they leave behind.”


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