Will new CIA director Gina Haspel take a tougher line on JFK files?

Ed asks: “What do you foresee as a result of Mike Pompeo being replaced by Gina Haspel as CIA Director?”

Gina Haspel
Gina Haspel, CIA director

I think Haspel will be a zealous defender of the Agency’s secrecy prerogatives. As a career CIA employee, she may actually prove a more zealous defender of the agency’s JFK secrets than her predecessor Mike Pompeo. As someone with torture on her resume, she is unlikely to facilitate public inquiries in the agency’s past.

So I expect that Haspel’s ascension will harden the agency’s institutional position on the JFK files. And we know what that position is: that significant portions of the JFK files must remain secret beyond Trump’s April 26, 2018 deadline for full disclosure.

Last October, Pompeo and FBI director Christopher Wray persuaded Trump that thousands of JFK files had to be secret and Trump stated in writing that he had “no choice” but to go along. More than 21,000 JFK files remain wholly or completely secret.

But Trump also tweeted last fall that everything in the JFK files, except for the names and addresses of living persons, would be made public.

That position is not likely to please or satisfy Gina Haspel.

Full disclosure of the files of CIA officers involved in the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald from 1959 to 1963, including– Birch O’Neal, David Phillips, George Joannides, and Ann Goodpasture –would not harm U.S. national security but they would probably would embarrass the CIA.

It would be good to know the position of CIA historian David Robarge.

I would not be surprised if Trump insists the CIA comply with the JFK Records Act, if only to give himself fodder for attacking “the deep state.” Nor would  be surprised if Trump says (again) that has “no choice” but to continue JFK secrecy into its 55th year. Haspel, it is safe to say, will favor the second option.




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