Thursday, July 9, 2020

Patrick Kennedy's wife, Amy Kennedy is running for congress in New Jersey.

And she's been doing quite well so far.  She will be running against Jeff Van Drew who proudly proclaims, "I'm Donald Trump's guy."  So, she should win in a landslide. 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Fair Play Back Issues

 The internet archive has some of John Kelin's Fair Play issues saved.

I'm pretty sure the 20th, 23rd, and 24th were saved.  I just haven't been able to guess the correct URLs for them. For example, gets you issue #25, but doesn't get you issue #24.  

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Turn Texas Blue

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Public Interest Declassification Board to hold virtual public meeting on June 5th at 11:00 a.m.


How can the national security classification and declassification system be fixed?

That depends on how one defines the problem that needs fixing. To the authors of a new report from the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), the outstanding problem is the difficulty of managing the expanding volume of classified information and declassifying a growing backlog of records.

"There is widespread, bipartisan recognition that the Government classifies too much information and keeps it classified for too long, all at an exorbitant and unacceptable cost to taxpayers," said the PIDB, a presidential advisory board. Meanwhile, "Inadequate declassification contributes to an overall lack of transparency and diminished confidence in the entire security classification system."

The solution to this problem is to employ technology to improve the efficiency of the classification and declassification processes, the PIDB said.

"The time is ripe for envisioning a new approach to classification and declassification, before the accelerating influx of classified electronic information across the Government becomes completely unmanageable," the report said. "The Government needs a paradigm shift, one centered on the adoption of technologies and policies to support an enterprise-level, system-of-systems approach."

See A Vision for the Digital Age: Modernization of the U.S. National Security Classification and Declassification System, Public Interest Declassification Board, May 2020.

The report's diagnosis is not new and neither is its call for employing new technology to improve classification and declassification. The PIDB itself made similar recommendations in a 2007 report.

Recognizing the persistent lack of progress to date, the new report therefore calls for the appointment of an Executive Agent who would have the authority and responsibility for designing and implementing a newly transformed classification system. (The Director of National Intelligence, who is already Security Executive Agent for security clearance policy, would be a likely choice.)

Those who care enough about these issues to read the PIDB report will find lots of interesting commentary along with plenty to doubt or disagree with. For example, in my opinion:

*    The useful idea of appointing an Executive Agent is diminished by making him or her part of an Executive Committee of agency leaders. The whole point of creating a "czar"-like Executive Agent is to reduce the friction of collective decision making and to break through the interagency impasse. An Executive Committee would make that more difficult.

*    The PIDB report would oddly elevate the Archivist of the United States, who is not even an Original Classification Authority, into a central role "in modernizing the systems used across agencies for the management of classified records." That doesn't make much sense. (An official said the intended purpose here was merely to advance the mission of the Archives in preserving historical records.)

*    The report equivocates on the pivotal question of whether or not (or for how long) agencies should retain "equity" in, or ownership of, the records they produce.

*    The report does not address resource issues in a concrete way. How much money should be invested today to develop the recommended technologies in order to reap savings five and ten years from now? It doesn't say. Who should supply the classified connectivity among classifying agencies that the report says is needed? Exactly which agency should request the required funding in next year's budget request? That is not discussed, and so in all likelihood it is not going to happen.

But the hardest, most stubborn problem in classification policy has nothing to do with efficiency or productivity. What needs updating and correcting, rather, are the criteria for determining what is properly classified and what must be disclosed. And since there is disagreement inside and outside government about many specific classification actions — e.g., should the number of US troops in Afghanistan be revealed or not? — a new mechanism is needed to adjudicate such disputes. This fundamental issue is beyond the scope of the PIDB report.

The Public Interest Declassification Board will hold a virtual public meeting on June 5 at 11 am.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

What Kerry said...

Friday, April 10, 2020

The return of my ARRB Batch reviews

Hello everyone, some of you may know that I followed the activities of the Assassination Records Review Board ( ARRB ) quite closely in the 1990’s.  A lot of what I did was written up and published on John Kelin’s now defunct website called “Fair Play.”  I sent material to John Kelin and Debra Conway of JFK Lancer.  I also sent out a lot of emails.  This was back in the early days of the internet and while I was lucky enough to have a computer I did not have a scanner.  I did not know HTML or how to create and maintain a website.  I left that up to John.  One of the things I did was to go to the ARRB’s offices in Washington, D,C, and report on their open meetings.  I also followed them around the country as they held public hearings, and when they gave presentations to two professional  organizations, the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association. The thing people best remember and looked forward to were the reviews I did of the documents that the ARRB released.  I did these in batches as they were released.  I did 13 batches and then stopped because, well, life. It got expensive and I was trying to get a graduate degree, a decent job, and just live.  Over time John had two children and had less time to devote to a website. He wrote a pretty good book, “Praise from a future generation,” which you should check out. 

Recently, Bill Simpich asked if the batch reviews were still on the internet somewhere.  Surprisingly, they are.  A professor in Taiwan has a link to them from the Internet Archive.  Now keep in mind this was the best I could do back then.  I was a one man Mary Ferrell Foundation ( MFF ) before we had the MFF.  Now we have that great treasure and can see scanned images of the documents.  So, I never really got back to doing batches as the amount of documents became way too much to physically acquire and comment upon.  Fortunately, technology has improved and there has been a cultural change.  No one makes physical copies anymore.  People bring in their own scanners and or digital cameras then you can make your own digital copies for free.  But, you have to be in Archives II to do that and it takes time and money to do so.

So, the good news is they’re back. A professor in Taiwan, Robert Reynolds had them on his blog. Alan Dale asked if he could put them on the ARRC site.  I said sure.  Unfortunately, he’s not done this well. (No offense meant, Alan. ) Viewing them through the AARC site which is a blog site with text in the middle bordered with stuff on both sides distorts the text from how it originally appeared.  So, it’s really best to view them through the good professor’s site / link to the internet archive and then you can see them as they originally appeared. Either way, they’re back.   

Mr. Reynolds, has a blog “Rabitt’s Warren" in which he explains that he got active in the case only in 2017 as NARA released some of what they were supposed to release.  Coming at this so late and being so distant he’s ignorant of a great deal of what happened because he wasn’t involved earlier and didn’t have the ability to interact with the ARRB and the research community. So, I’m going through his posts. He has a separate blog devoted solely to JFK and the docs. I want to explain some things and I’ll probably refute some things.  I cannot go through 40 or 50 posts about how and why the collection of over 300,000 JFK Assassination documents are in the state they’re in, and why they’re not all open in full as they should be in a day.  One point is correct.  I never really did review the First Batch properly as these came out with no problem.  The ARRB gave out copies of these first 16 CIA records at their offices, and I think NARA did too.  So, at the time everyone had these when I jumped into the deep end of the pool in 1995.  These are all available from The Mary Ferrell Foundation site.

1.) 104-10007-10037

2.) 104-10007-10040

3.) 104-10007-10043

4.) 104-10007-10046

5.) 104-10007-10195

6.) 104-10008-10109

7.) 104-10015-10052

8.) 104-10015-10093

9.) 104-10015-10153

10.) 104-10015-10154

11.) 104-10015-10165

12.) 104-10015-10181

13.) 104-10050-10002

14.) 104-10050-10077

15.) 104-10054-10023

16.) 104-10054-10204

I am working on a large project to determine exactly how many RIFS there are in the entire JFK Records Collection.  I’ve been working on this for over 2 years.  I’m nearly done, then I want to go back over it a bit.  I may have made a few errors and I don’t consider this to be definitive just yet. I do think it will be the best resource so far, and with collaborative input from the community I think it can be the definitive guide.  Another X factor is that NARA in consultation with the intel agencies released material under the JFK Act that was never really announced or published in the Federal Register as the ARRB decisions were.  Malcolm Blunt and I just happened to have been there when they did this one day, and if memory serves that is what the 6th Batch really was.  So, a lot of the RIF numbers I have for which there is no specific ARRB notice may have been released in a similar manner.  I hope to present this at a JFK conference when we get through this COVID-19 pandemic.  So, don’t any of you lovely people dare get this damn thing so that we can have hugs and drinks together soon.   

As Maddow says, watch this space.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Gideon has been found

I don't have words for this.  It's so awful.  

Monday, April 6, 2020

Body of Maeve McKean found, son's body still missing

From NBC News
Doha Madani

Authorities found the body of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean on Monday, five days after her canoe apparently capsized in the Chesapeake Bay.

McKean, 40, the daughter of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, went missing late Thursday afternoon along with her son 8-year-old son, Gideon. The pair went out into waters near the family's home in Shady Side, Maryland, about 25 miles south of Annapolis.

A preliminary investigation found that McKean and her son may have been paddling the canoe out into the bay to retrieve a ball and were unable to paddle back to shore.
Maryland Natural Resources Police said Monday that McKean's body was found in 25 feet of water about 2.5 miles south of her mother's residence, where the canoe had launched. Authorities used aviation and underwater imaging sonar technology to find her body.
The authorities said they would resume their search for Gideon on Tuesday.
David McKean wrote a long Facebook post Friday in tribute to his wife and young son, calling his wife "the brightest light" he had ever known. 
She was magical - with endless energy that she would put toward inventing games for our children, taking on another project at work or in our community, and spending time with our friends," he wrote  
He described Gideon as a child who had deep passions and spent hours reading, learning about sports and "trying to decipher the mysteries of the stock market."

"But he was also incredibly social, athletic, and courageous," McKean wrote. "And he was brave, leading his friends in games, standing up to people who he thought were wrong (including his parents), and relishing opportunities to go on adventures with friends, even those he'd just met."

Friday, April 3, 2020

Maeve McKean and son lost, presumed drowned.

From a Facebook post:

David McKean is with Maeve McKean.
I am writing here to address the countless people who have loved my wife Maeve and my son Gideon. As many of you have seen, they went missing in the Chesapeake Bay yesterday afternoon. I tried to reach out personally to as many people as possible before the news became public. However, I know that I was only able to scratch the surface. For those of you learning of this news here, I am sorry. I know Maeve would have loved for you to have gotten a personal call.
Despite heroic efforts by the Coast Guard and many state and local authorities, the decision has now been made to suspend the active rescue effort. The search that began yesterday afternoon went on throughout the night and continued all day today. It is now dark again. It has been more than 24 hours, and the chances they have survived are impossibly small. It is clear that Maeve and Gideon have passed away.
The search for their recovery will continue, and I hope that that will be successful.
I know that people have many questions about what happened as we grapple with this tragedy. Here is what I have come to understand. We were self-quarantining in an empty house owned by Maeve’s mother Kathleen on the Chesapeake Bay, hoping to give our kids more space than we have at home in DC to run around. Gideon and Maeve were playing kickball by the small, shallow cove behind the house, and one of them kicked the ball into the water. The cove is protected, with much calmer wind and water than in the greater Chesapeake. They got into a canoe, intending simply to retrieve the ball, and somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay. About 30 minutes later they were spotted by an onlooker from land, who saw them far out from shore, and called the police. After that last sighting, they were not seen again. The Coast Guard recovered their canoe, which was capsized and miles away, at approximately 6:30 yesterday evening.
Gideon was 8, but he may as well have been 38. He was deeply compassionate, declining to sing children’s songs if they contained a hint of animals or people being treated cruelly. He hated if I accidently let a bad word slip. He spent hours upstairs reading, learning everything he could about sports, and trying to decipher the mysteries of the stock market. But he was also incredibly social, athletic, and courageous. For his school picture, he gathered a couple of his many friends to be in the shot with him. He played every sport he could, complaining to me that even though he was often playing six days a week, there was still that seventh day, and why hadn’t I signed him up for something else. And he was brave, leading his friends in games, standing up to people who he thought were wrong (including his parents), and relishing opportunities to go on adventures with friends, even those he’d just met. It is impossible to sum up Gideon here. I am heartbroken to even have to try. I used to marvel at him as a toddler and worry that he was too perfect to exist in this world. It seems to me now that he was.
Maeve turned 40 in November, and she was my everything. She was my best friend and my soulmate. I have already thought many times over today that I need to remember to tell Maeve about something that’s happening. I am terrified by the idea that this will fade over time. You could hear Maeve’s laugh a block away—and she laughed a lot. She was magical—with endless energy that she would put toward inventing games for our children, taking on another project at work or in our community, and spending time with our friends. There were weeks when we had people over to our house so often that our kids would be confused when we were just having dinner as a family. Maeve once spent the hours before New Year’s Eve organizing a 40-person party at our house, complete with a face painter, during a cross country flight home, while also reading to one of our kids in her lap. She once landed in DC after a 30-hour trip home from Asia, and then took a cab straight to the pool to play with our kids. She did the Peace Corps, she ran the Boston Marathon, she knew how rub Gabriella’s legs when they cramped, and being in her presence somehow allowed you to be a better version of yourself. She was the brightest light I have ever known.
At seven, Gabriella is heartbroken, but she amazes me with her maturity and grace. Toby is two-and-a-half, so he’s still his usual magical and goofy self. I know soon he will start to ask for Maeve and Gideon. It breaks my heart that he will not get to have them as a mother and brother.
There has been an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from so many people. Given who Maeve and Gideon were, I am not the least surprised. I am trying my best to respond. Many have asked what they can do. I don’t have any answers for that right now. If people have photos of Maeve or Gideon, those would be great for us to have, especially for me to share with Gabriella and Toby. And feel free to tell stories here. As Gabriella and Toby lay sleeping next to me last night, I promised them that I would do my best to be the parent that Maeve was, and to be the person that Gideon clearly would have grown up to be. Part of that is keeping their memories alive. Any help with that would be welcome.