Texas History

JFK Assassination Docs Won't Be Released By 50th Anniversary After All

One thing the city of Dallas won't have to deal with in its attempt to keep the 50th Anniversary of JFK's assassination classy is a lot of new information that complicates our picture of November 22, 1963.

Salon reported yesterday that the National Archives is refusing to release 1,171 classified CIA documents related to the assassination in time for the anniversary as it had promised.

In 2010, deputy archivist Michael Kurtz announced that the secret records would be declassified by November 22, 2013. But the National Archives has since walked back that promise in a letter to Jim Lesar of the Assassination Archives and Research Center, who requested the release.

We recognize that, in a 2010 public forum. Dr. Kurtz stated that the postponed JFK assassination records would be included as part of the (National Declassification Center) project. However, as we have tried to explain before. Dr. Kurtz misspoke. Rather, because the postponed JFK assassination records have already been subject to a full and complete government-wide declassification review, they are not part of the 400 million page backlog of records that have yet to receive a final review.

Which unsurprisingly frustrates Lesar, whose nonprofit is devoted to collecting and disseminating information about political assassinations.

"In 1992, Congress unanimously passed legislation that was designed to get all of the JFK assassination-related records released," he said. "There was supposed to be only a very few records whose release could be postponed for periods of time including up until the year 2017, but basically everything was supposed to be released well before then."

Of course, the CIA and National Archives won't say exactly what is contained in the documents, not even the number of pages. The papers could be copies of Lee Harvey Oswald's grocery list for all we know, but Lesar doubts it.

"We don't know. The National Archives does not have a page count, but It appears that there are at least several thousand pages that are still being withheld, and they appear to be on some very important subjects."

Subjects like David Phillips, the CIA's Mexico City station head and specialist in black propaganda who was allegedly responsible for monitoring Oswald on his visits to Cuban and Russian embassies, E. Howard Hunt's records on the Cuban Revolutionary Council, and Yuri Nosenko, the Soviet defector to the United States who brought information about Oswald's surveillance.

The CIA and National Archives' intransigence certainly doesn't help deflate the bubble of speculation about what really happened at the Grassy Knoll. It's been 49 years. Most of the people involved are dead. What's to hide, unless the government is shown in an embarrassing or criminal light?

At the very least, it's a blow to transparency.

"There's no doubt that this is probably the most important historical subjects of greatest interest to the American public," Lesar said. "The National Archives is going ahead with project to declassify 400 million records by 2013, and they're not including what is most significant of the American people. That does not make sense and it flies in the face of President Obama's commitment to openness."

At least this is good news for Mayor Mike Rawlings. This way, come November 2013, the city will only have to silence the same old conspiracy theorists and not have to stamp out new ones.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson