Saturday, January 31, 2015

Things are not as they appear, and not always as we claim

I have to correct something a colleague in JFK research is claiming.  I hope she'll take this well.

Pam Brown in her blog is claiming that when she got a copy of what she's calling "The Fergusson Memo," which is on Ford Motor Company stationary from F. V. Fergusson it was dated December 18963.  And when Anthony Marsh got his copy of the same document it did not have a date on it.

Well, not so much. Pam does have the memo on her site here.  Unfortunately, the way she scanned and uploaded it you can't click on it and large it.  That may be a feature that has and that the increasingly popular site doesn't offer.  Or maybe it does it differently. In any case Pam has the full and complete document which she is calling MB2B Exhibit 6. OH, I got it, well, sort of.  Anyway, you can see it on her site.

Okay, so then she shows the copy Marsh got.  And as I suspected, the document was stapled or adhered to, in a bad way, with other documents.  It was not freed from them when someone copied it.  You can ask them to remove staples from documents. You have to ask them, and they will do it with a small metal spatula.  They look like this:

They may grumble a bit and not want to do this but if you're polite and stand your ground they should do this for you. If you're at Archives II onsite and can see that you need a staple removed or you need to separate a document from how it's adhered to other documents.  Each situation is different and each individual person you ask may comply but you never really know. They should do this for you, easily.

This is the Marsh copy. 
The date is there but because it was adhered to other documents this information got distorted because someone didn't separate it out.  So, the top of the document has a curve to it which distorted the information.  

So, I have to disagree with her main argument that NARA deliberately deleted or cut off the date of the Fergusson memo they gave to Anthony Marsh.  

I also have to disagree with her assessment of NARA staff and how documents are processed once given to NARA.  The Jim Garrison material was large and I think it's fair to say highly disorganized.  In addition there was a bit of a struggle getting the grand jury records which then DA Harry Connick Sr., the father of the singer, said he ordered their destruction when he came in as DA.  However, an employee took them under the guise of obeying that order but kept them, thank god, and did not destroy them, thinking they were historical and unique. The ARRB found out about this and I think there was a lawsuit, and in the end the ARRB got the material and it went over to NARA.  I wrote about this in detail at the time, and I showed a local news show at a COPA conference that showed that a reporter knew that Garrison's grand jury records relating to his investigation of the JFK assassination and of Clay Shaw still exist. Connick had egg on his face and he didn't get it. He wasn't comprehending that what he told the ARRB when they came to New Orleans was a lie.

Now when NARA gets stuff you usually could not go to Archives II and see it right away.  It had to be "processed," and that usually means showing the material to interested parties in our national security state. So, agency ABC doesn't like something then they work it out with the ARRB and maybe something was postponed in part or in full.

Now in the very, very early days when they were still building Archives II and I mean like carpeting wasn't laid down yet, the electrics were not quite done yet, there were empty and brand new shelves, somewhere around 1993, or 1994, you could see some stuff before they got it properly processed because stuff was coming in fast, and they didn't have the staff to properly deal with it.  So, my friend Anna Marie Kuhns-Walko found a lot of things because what they would call artifacts were right there in with the paper reports. "Archivists" like to separate stuff like that out, much to the annoyance of all JFK researchers who would have wanted to see the stuff in the original condition it was given to Archives II.  I was told about one specific example where the Secret Service copy of the Zapruder film was right there in with the papers of the SS.  That copy was made prior to the "accident' with the original which resulted in the splice mark when the limo goes behind the Stemmons Freeway sign.  There was a bit of a kerfuffle as Anna wanted a copy of that.

You see, their procedures weren't in place yet. They like to outsource to a vendor to make copies of film, videotape, DVDs, etc.

So, to document her find she photocopied the round can the film was in and everything she could to prove she saw a Zapruder film can in with the Secret Service stuff she was looking at that day.

I can also state that one nice summer I went to Archives II with the late, great Ed Sherry, I can't believe you're gone man, and Malcolm Blunt and Lise Kirkham.  And I was being properly anal in getting documents as they were listed by the ARRB in the Federal Register for what I would call one of my ARRB Batch reviews and we came across some Garrison material in amongst FBI material.  This was in one of the first 13 batches I did, it was an ARRB notice where they just put "In addition we released..." and there was a long list of FBI RIFs.  And the thing we found that we all laughed at was an actual legal size folder from Garrison's office that said on the outside of it "Current Shit."

So, I think it's more a case of early chaos and a bad job of photocopying rather than a deliberate conspiracy to mess about with JFK researchers.  

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