Top official: CIA secrecy around JFK records is ‘ridiculous’

A top U.S. government official said Thursday that the CIA’s continuing secrecy around 1,100 documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy is “ridiculous.”

Nancy Sodeberg, chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board.

Nancy Soderberg, chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board, made the remarks after a public meeting of the board in Washington D.C.

“I think everybody here agrees with you that those records should be public,” Soderberg told attorney Jim Lesar after the event. “It’s ridiculous they’re still withheld.”

Nonetheless, Soderberg said the documents would not be released until 2017, according to a prior agreement with the CIA.

(See “On JFK records, Archivist Ferreiro sides with CIA, ignores the public.)

Soderberg’s candid remarks may carry weight in Washington because of her national security credentials. She is a former staff director of the National Security Council Staff who holds the formal title of “ambassador.”

The PIDB’s mission is to “insure records on specific subjects of extraordinary public interest that do not undermine the national security interests of the United States” are made available to “Congress, policymakers in the executive branch, and the public.”

The JFK Records Act, passed in October 1992, mandated that all of the government’s assassination-related records must be made public within 25 years.

As first reported in JFK Facts last June, the CIA retains 1,100 records related to JFK’s assassination that have never been seen by the public. In 1998, the CIA decided the records are “Not Believed Relevant” to JFK’s assassination.

In fact, some of them are quite relevant: See “Top 7 JFK files the CIA still keeps secret.”

By law the records have to be made public in October 2017 unless the President specifically approves continuing secrecy.






15 thoughts on “Top official: CIA secrecy around JFK records is ‘ridiculous’”

  1. those of you discussing Bill Clinton’s interest might also want to check the recent releases of his presidential records. there are some interesting nuggets in there on response to the JFK Act and general declassification issues

    1. Well, duh, but in 1998, Bill Clinton did express interest in the JFK assassination.
      “Former President Bill Clinton was host to John Tunheim, right, and members of the Assassination Records Review Board in 1998.”

      So if Bill Clinton gets back into the White House even as his wife is President instead of him, do you really think he’s just going to sit on his hands? I think he will have some say in the release of the CIA files in 2017, if Obama doesn’t do that before he leaves office. If a Republican wins, one of your guys, all bets are off. Then the CIA gets to keep its secrets.

      1. No doubt Bill Clinton has an interest in JFK’s life and death. So what? What did he do about the assassination as President? Clinton was given the KGB files on Oswald in 1992. We don’t even know if he read them. Yes, I believe Clinton will sit on his hands should Hillary become President. He’ll do nothing to distract from her office. No way Obama does anything about the files before he leaves office. You truly believe he knows anything about this? BTW, not only am I not Photon, I’m also not a Republican. Keep plugging.

        1. [Not] Photon,

          If Bill Clinton does have an interest in JFK’s death, and because he supported the AARB file release after Oliver Stone’s film came out, it seems consistent that he would also not block the promised release of CIA files in 2017 that are still hidden from the public.

          Or do you think CIA is just playing it’s tax-paying supporters like Lucy played Charlie Brown with the football?

          1. Just as an observation .As I recall Paul May posted on this blog, then Photon showed up and Paul stopped posting completely. Now Photon has disappeared, but Paul May is back in business.
            It just goes to show how Jim DiEugenio gets it right time after time.

      1. My guess is that if Hils tried to have the files released, the complete files on her career would find its way into the public eye. I don’t think she wants that. I’ve heard it said that every president wants to know “The Answer”. I’ve been told that Gerald Ford was told. I assume that others were told. I’m sure Nixon knew. The ARRB is the closest we’ve come with big files releases. I suspect that the rest will dribble out over the years, including that which Mr. Morley seeks. But it will be awhile.

  2. Larry Schnapf

    Under section 704 of the enabling legislation of this board, the President can request the Board to make a determination to release certain records.

    There is also sub-section 704(c) dealing with special requests:

    EXTRAORDINARY PUBLIC INTEREST.—(1) The Board shall also make recommendations to the President regarding proposed initiatives to identify, collect, and review for declassification classified records and materials of extraordinary public interest.

    (2) In making recommendations under paragraph (1), the Board shall consider the following:
    (A) The opinions and requests of Members of Congress, including opinions and requests expressed or embodied in letters or legislative proposals, and also including Public Interest Declassification Act of 2000, as amended specific requests for the declassification of certain records or for the reconsideration of declinations to declassify specific records.

    (B) The opinions and requests of the National Security Council, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the heads of other agencies.
    (C) The opinions of United States citizens.
    (D) The opinions of members of the Board.
    (E) The impact of special searches on systematic and all other on-going declassification programs.
    (F) The costs (including budgetary costs) and the impact that complying with the recommendations would have on agency budgets, programs, and operations.
    (G) The benefits of the recommendations.
    (H) The impact of compliance with the recommendations on the national security of the United States.

    So with all due respect, Ms. Soderberg’s comments are somewhat disingenuous. There is alot more that could be done if the desire was there.–IMHO

  3. If “everybody here agrees…records should be public. …it’s ridiculous they’re still witheld”, why will she not commit to releasing them now?
    The overlooked fact here is that if the President in 2017, no matter who that may be, so deems it, they will remain sealed.

  4. Actions speak louder than words.

    I’ll vote for Hillary even though I think she’s less than an ideal presidential candidate for one reason: Bill was good on the ARRB and was a big admirer of JFK’s.

  5. 2017 is coming up fast. The only problem as I see it is that in 2017 (after January) Obama won’t be president any longer. Could President Obama release the files as one of his last presidential orders, in January of 2017? Does anyone know?

    1. Before 2017, there will be a suspicious fire or some such thing that will destroy the records. Mark my words.

    2. I put up that question too…I suppose he could do something before 12 Noon on Jan 20, 2017-as he would still be President until the new one gets sworn in at that time.

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