The Central Intelligence Agency reclassified portions of once-public JFK assassination files in April 2018, according to a study by the Mary Ferrell Foundation, the largest online archive of government files on JFK’s assassination.
Is this CIA incompetence? Or CIA trickery?
I would guess the former because the reclassified information seems to be trivial. But the latter can’t be ruled out. In any case, re-classification is not harmless. It removes information from the online public record of President Kennedy’s assassination, a blatant violation of the JFK Records Act.
Take a look.
In December 2017, the CIA declassified the name of a Miami businessman who reportedly offered to put up $50,000 in 1964 toward the Mafia’s “asking price” of $150,000 for the assassination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Here’s the declassified passage.
Four months later, in April 2018, the CIA reclassified the name of the deceased in the public version of the document.
Another example of reclassification is more troubling.
A December 1963 cable about Lee Harvey Oswald, released in 1994, is entitled “File note for a sensitive and restricted cable.” In April 2018, the CIA reclassified the title of the document. If you look for this document the National Archives database, the title is “Restricted.” This might be trickery.
[To reporters and researchers who want to verify this instance of CIA reclassification, go to the National Archives JFK Assassination Collection Reference System. Download the first spreadsheet (104-10019-10006jfk-rif-104-10001-10000-thru-104-10215-10450.xlsx). Search for the December 1963 Oswald document by its Record Information Form (RIF) number: 104-10019-10006.]
A Church Committee record on the arrest of Sylvia Duran, released in December 2017, has four redactions. The version released in April 2018 has five redactions. The acronym COS (Chief of Station) is newly redacted. On what grounds is this anodyne acronym withheld from the public record?
Another Church Committee document, released in 2017, on Robert Maheu, the former FBI agent who introduced CIA officials to Mafia figures willing to assassinate Fidel Castro, has five redactions. The version released in April 2018 has 13 redactions — including the removal of non-sensitive words such as “CIA source”, “COS”, and even just “source.” This sort of redaction is so pointless as to be strange.
In this 1964 memo about syndicated columnist Drew Pearson’s conversation with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, the source “CIA Station Chief in Cairo” is redacted. But the CIA had already released the very same phrase in the December 2017. This strikes me as incompetence.
Here’s a 1966 memo about Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union, released in April 2018, in which the word “British” is redacted several times. Five months earlier, the CIA disclosed the word “British” in this version of the document. Is it important to hide the fact that British authorities passed information to the U.S. 55 years ago? Apparently the CIA’s redactors can’t agree on the answer to this simple question.
Such is the madness of the government’s secrecy culture. Even when directed by law to disclose on a subject of maximum public interest, the CIA seeks to conceal already public information–yet another reason why President Biden need to declassify all the JFK records on October 26.