Why the last of the JFK files could embarrass the CIA.
In my opinion the article is lacking in any real depth of the issue. Also, the article is too narrowly focused on the CIA. The article is peppered with well known names long associated with the assassination and that there's this document with so many pages with that name withheld, and there's this document about that name with so many pages withheld, etc.
As recently noted by Jim DiEuenio on Len Osanic's Black Op Radio show, ( Show #746, discussion about 2017 and inaccurate numbers floating about for what will be released is in the first 10 minutes of the show) I am putting together a list of all of the known documents that the ARRB marked for postponed in part of postponed in full. I am using the data the ARRB created on a document by document list. This has taken a great deal of time and I plan to release it in November. I am doing the best I can on this and I wish I did this earlier.
I was surprised and very flattered by Jim's comments. Len usually asks what's new in JFK research and Jim talked about various articles on the www.ctka.net site. As usual Jim mentions a book or two that I don't have. I have been buying a lot of books based on Jim mentioning them on Black Op Radio. Jim is going to do a review of John Newman's book, "Where Angels Tread Lightly."
Then Jim brought up the issue of 2017. There is now an alliance between the AARC, the Assassination Archive and Research Center, a small organization run by Jim Lesar; JFK Lancer, run by Debra Conway; and JFKfacts.org, run by Jefferson Morley. The purpose is to inform the public that by law, the National Archives has to release all of the JFK records in full that the ARRB, the Assassination Records Review Board, looked at. Jim described it as the endpoint of declassification for the ARRB. The last date to defer release of records was 2017. By law the ARRB went out of business in 1998.
Len asked if Jim had any optimism that anything would be released in 2017? And Jim said, yes. Len thought Jim was going to say no because Len is not optimistic. Len is interested in the JFK assassination but he's not as knowledgable about certain subjects as I feel he should be if he's going to offer an opinion about it on his internet radio show. He really doesn't know anything about the ARRB. Jim was quick to point out that the biggest problem we have is that we don't really know the full scope of the JFK records that are, or ought to be released. This is true, we don't.
Jim continues, "If we had an accurate count of what's there, that would be one thing, but Joe Backes who is the guy who has done the best work on this, you know, he doesn't think we have an accurate count of what the archives is holding back. Okay, I'm trying to get him to write an article for CTKA on that. Okay, Jeff Morley puts out one number, which Joe Backes think is a low ball, okay? And so, Joe has gone back through the whole record to try to get a more accurate count of how many documents are really being stowed away. So, I'm interested in getting his numbers. That's what I want to get. I've already heard Morley's numbers, but I want to get Backes's numbers."
Wow, thanks, Jim.
As I am compiling my list of documents known to be withheld in part or in full one runs into several agencies whose documents are not listed in the NARA JFK online database, meaning there's no RIF sheet. So, there's no description of the document or how many pages it has. This is not true of every document from a specific agency but it is true of far too many sources of JFK assassination documents. A RIF number is a 13 digit code that will get you to a specific document. There are three numbers, which will tell you the agency, then 5 numbers. John Newman in his book, "Where Angels Tread Lightly," has some very useful advice in Appendix Eight: Research Methodologies.
"The second block of five numbers, 000-00000-00000, is the most important and what you really want to pay attention to. [Well, actually it's the first set of five numbers, or the second set of numbers] This set of numbers represents, metaphorically, the stack where the librarian placed books that are in some way similar. When searching for records on the Mary Ferrell website the system is even more precise than that. It tells you where similar documents on a person or subject were placed on a particular day for the first time. The same document may have come into the entire collection from different sources and at different times. Therefore a single document may have been placed in the collection multiple times. This phenomenon is reflected in the center RIF block. Documents on David Atlee Phillips, for example, may be in several locations - and are best identifiable by their different center RIF block locations."
Here are some examples of the first set of numbers, a block of three numbers, and the agency that those numbers represent. After awhile you quickly learn that when you see the first three numbers you'll know it's a CIA, or FBI, or whatever agency.
CIA documents, for example, 104-10100-10379
Department of Justice documents that start with 117, for example, 117-10014-10041
State Department documents that start with 119, for example, 119-10022-10395
INS, Immigration and Naturalization Service documents which start their RIF number with 136, for example 136-10001-10356.
National Security Agency, NSA, documents which start their RIF number with 144, for example 144-10001-10051.
Secret Service documents which start with 154, for example 154-10002-10415.
FBI documents that start with 124, for example, 124-90001-10002. Also, many documents in the 124-10203 range, like 124-10203-10338. And the 10204 range, like 124-10204-10353. and the 10223 range like 124-10223-10093.
Ford Library documents that start with 178, for example 178-10002-10093.
U.S. Army documents that start with 194, for example, 194-10003-10333. Also documents that start with 198, for example 198-100005-10105.
Eisenhower Library documents that start with 203, for example, 203-10001-10000.
Now, sometimes you can take one of these RIF numbers and put it into the Mary Ferrell website and they may have the document, which tells you it was in the NARA JFK database at one time. I do not comprehend how or why the MFF would have not only the RIF but the whole document when you can't even find the RIF number in the NARA JFK online database.
Len then goes on to talk about what I believe to be a total fiction, that some material that was released was being called back and were being reclassified. This BS came about online from some silly, ignorant people who conflated the JFK Records Act, especially in regards to the very first release in August 1993 which predated the existence of the ARRB, (they weren't appointed until 1994,) with George W. Bush's idiotic Executive Order 13292.
Let me talk about Bush's E.O first. This exercise in stupidity was more about blame Bill Clinton for stuff than anything else. Bill Clinton had an Executive Order 12958 which was going to declassify every document that was 25 years old or older from the document's original classification. This affected millions of records. They would also bear upon the previous work and positions of people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who were supporting George W. Bush in the upcoming presidential election.
Then Bush comes into office and I think to protect his father somewhat, President George H.W. Bush, and more likely what Dick Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney did when they were Secretary of Defense, (Cheney under Bush I, and Rumsfeld under President Gerald Ford,) Bush amends Clinton's Executive Order on March 5th, 2003 with a new Executive Order 13292.
There was IMMEDIATE push back on Bush's new E.O. in 2003. The American Historical Association and many others sued the federal government.
Wikipedia's description of Bush's E.O. 13292 is hysterical! "Bush's order appears to allow much more information to be classified and for longer periods; the wording is hard to decipher in some areas[specify]. It also appears to give more power over classification to the Offices of the President and Vice President..."
Essentially, it was a power grab by Dick Cheney to give the Vice President the same authority and powers in dealing with classified materials. This is something that had never existed before.
Now you can read about the push back against this online, but, PLEASE, be aware of what you are reading, that the articles were written in 2003, or a little bit later and refer to Bush's E.O. Bill Moyers talked about this in his show Bill Moyers Journal. You can watch this here.
It's hard to find the material about the criticism and pushback in the context of the time as Obama's E.O. has essentially voided the Bush E.O. When President Obama came into office he issued a new Executive Order, E.O. 13526 which nullified Bush's 13292.
I have previously written about this, here and here. There was an article about people reviewing a large number of records at the JFK library. But, if you read the entire article it clearly stated that Bush's E.O. did not affect any of the records in the JFK Library. So, absolutely nothing was reclassified there.
Now, in regards to JFK assassination materials released in August 1993. I recently attended a presentation John Newman gave in Cumberland, Maryland at a small community college where he too joined the chorus of people thinking material has been reclassified and is being withdrawn from public access. He stated that material released in 1993 cannot now be located by their original 1993 identifying numbers.
While I greatly respect John Newman I have to say that, of course, you're not going to find the material released in 1993 by its original 1993 identifiers because they're in a new building, Archives II, under new record identifiers as created by the ARRB. Now, what I can believe is that there is no guide handy pointing out that this document had this number in 1993, and now it can be found under this number. That should have been done by someone with NARA and they probably didn't bother to do this. Also, the 1993 identifiers should be on the newly created RIF sheets.
So, John is going to have to come up with a list of 1993 documents, with whatever identifiers he has for them, and have that list handy as he goes though documents, then he can create such a guide as he goes along. If he could give me a listing of documents he cannot fins by their 1993 identifiers I would gladly try my best to find them.
If he has such a list and would share it I'd be happy to go through what I have and I might be able to find, okay, this document was released in Aug 1993 and now has this number. In doing my ARRB batch reviews I came across many documents that were once released in 1993 and then were processed by the ARRB. One question I have is was there a listing of any kind of what was released in August, 1993? That would give us a great starting point to look for those documents now that probably have a new number.