Release all the Files -- and Post Them Online!
One of the boxes from the Garrison files at NARA.
I am sure there will be lot of hand-wringing over the fact President Biden has signed an order certifying compliance with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
As I have indicated earlier, the only withheld in full documents are IRS files and some grand jury testimony. These will probably never be released.
All CIA documents have been released, albeit many still have redactions. Robert Reynolds has the full scoop on the state of the releases. He estimates that about 350 documents have redacted social security numbers -- if that person is still alive, I certainly understand why that information should not be released.
Does anybody really believe these Social Security Numbers should be released?
As a Canadian, I know just how insidious secrecy can be. Canada's Access to Information Act is completely broken, as noted in a series of articles in the Toronto Globe & Mail.
And it isn't because Canada is hiding JFK assassination documents. It's just the way far too many governments operate -- it's easier to keep documents secret than to vet them properly for release.
Of course, I want to see more JFK documents released without the redactions.
However, I don't believe there is anything salient in them regarding the assassination itself. And Judge Tunheim has told us, over and over again, that there are NO bombshells in the remaining documents.
I have other important concerns about JFK documents. NARA was supposed to digitize the current JFK collection. I would like to see an update to this. They were supposed to have finished in August of 2023. It appears they are far behind their schedule.
And, NARA also has not yet completed their updated JFK Assassination Collection Reference System.
We have to rely upon several spreadsheets to find documents. When will their new system be ready?
As part of the effort to democratize access to the Collection, NARA will add digitized materials to the National Archives Catalog, develop a dynamic Next Generation Finding Aid using the NARA API, refresh existing webpages about the Collection, and provide quarterly updates regarding project status and online availability of the Collection.
In December of 2022, I emailed NARA and asked them about their project. Here is their reply:
Dear Mr. Litwin,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the digitization of the John F. Kennedy Assassination Collection records. Earlier this year, we conducted an assessment of the records in advance of digitization to determine the appropriate digitization equipment and archival preparation needs. We are currently in the process of interfiling records that were originally withheld or redacted that have since been released and have started to prep the records in advance of the scanning process. We plan to begin systematic scanning of the Collection, starting with the Warren Commission records, in January 2023. The digitized records will be made available in the National Archives Catalog on an ongoing basis so I encourage you to check our catalog and the National Archives website for updates.
If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Denise Henderson Director of Digitization Digitization Division Office of Research Services
I have yet to see any updates and any new digitized records.
To sum up, the U. S. government needs to release more files without redactions, complete the new finding aid, and complete the digitization of the JFK collection. And I would like to see some clarity on the RFK papers at the JFK Library? Isn't it strange that people like RFK Jr., are upset at Biden and NARA, but have not pushed the JFK library to release the RFK documents in their possession. Let's see those too, please.
There is also some important work to be done by private organizations.
The Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF) is an essential source for documents on the JFK assassination. I couldn't have published any of my books, or most of my blog posts, without accessing their website. It is indeed unfortunate that most HSCA documents are not in their collection. There are thousands of HSCA pages that are completely public but are not online. One of the factors that makes the MFF so important is that they provide searchable .pdf files, and so I'd love to see the HSCA material online at Mary Ferrell.
Over the last three years, I have traveled across the United States conducting research at a variety of private archives. The papers of Gus Russo, Richard Billings, Irvin Dymond, Gerald Posner, James Kirkwood, Dick Russell, Patricia Lambert, and Richard Sprague contain valuable information on the assassination and most of this material is not online. I would like to see this material be put online as I am sure that other researchers could find this information useful. The New Orleans Public Library has three boxes of Garrison documents not available elsewhere.
One private archive that contains hundreds of thousands of pages is the the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC). The archive is unfortunately closed right now, but most of its material has been digitized. It is not yet available online, and there are very important papers that cannot be accessed right now. For instance, the AARC has the papers of Zachary Sklar, the screenwriter of JFK and the editor of Garrison's book, On the Trail of the Assassins. I'd sure like to see that collection. The AARC also has many Garrison documents that are not yet available online. Who knows what other treasures are in their files?
Let's get it all out, within reason, and let's get it all online.
The truth of what happened on November 22 1963, lies in the millions of pages already released in full. The few remaining redactions will actually tell us little about what happened.
Previous Relevant Blog Posts
An analysis of redactions and a good case study of how Mark Lane twisted the truth.