by Andrew Kreig
In a chaotic chapter of government efforts to suppress research into the evidence regarding President Kennedy's 1963 assassination, President Trump on Oct. 26 suddenly backed away from his promises this week to comply with a 1992 Congressional law and release all remaining documents related to the assassination.
The president released in full via the National Archives website at about 7:30 p.m. some 2,891 remaining documents after a conference call with news reporters beginning at 5:46 p.m. This followed a day in which many in the public long focused on the document release were left wondering until after normal business hours what was happening.
Update: One expert suggested privately to fellow researchers that his preliminary review of the documents and the initial media coverage indicates vast confusion in the news coverage, as follows:
Most journalists who mentioned the numbers of documents in their initial reporting implied that the released documents, 2,891, came from the trove of some 3,100 that had been expected to be released in full on Oct. 26. Instead, the expert said, at least 98 percent of the released documents appeared to be from the larger universe of some 30,000 documents that had been previously released with partial redactions.
In other words, the new information may be far less than implied by initial news reports, even those from major news organizations. A further implication is that staff disorganization in the White House must have been at a monumental level for a 25-year project regarding the murder of a president in broad daylight in what's been called "The Crime of the Century" to crash into such confusion and secrecy on its long-anticipated deadline day.
The White House issued a statement saying that it was giving federal agencies until March 12 to register objections to remaining documents.The White House scheduling a decision on the those objections by April 26, with some documents to be released on a rolling basis in the meantime.
Earlier in the week, Trump had promised compliance and transparency on the documents. They were supposed to have been released by Oct. 26 as part of a process begun after the U.S. Senate and House each passed by unanimous votes in 1992 the so-called "JFK Act" to release all documents absent compelling national security reasons.
This editor has been monitoring these developments closely for years via the Justice Integrity Project and Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA). Along with more than 200 other reporters and interested parties, I joined a White House conference call that began at 5:46 p.m. (EST) whereby officials described how and why they were only partially complying with their own and congressional timetables. Also, I undertook a number of interviews this week with U.S. and international outlets to describe the importance of developments.
The news is summarized in an appendix to this column. It contains a number of news stories and commentaries arranged in reverse chronological order. Another appendix includes our so-far 43-part "Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination," which helps show how virtually all major U.S. media continue to support the controversial 1964 Warren Report claiming that former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone to kill Kennedy in Dallas.
Virtually all major media also couch their coverage in terms of smearing researchers with the term "conspiracy theorists," a term popularized by the CIA in the 1960s to discredit critics of the Warren Report, previously declassified CIA documents show.
Especially notable among the columns this week are those by JFK research experts John M. Newman, Dan Hardway, and Jacob Hornberger. Important also is a news story by the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette in which noted forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, chairman of CAPA, described medical evidence proving that the accused JFK assassin Oswald could not alone have killed Kennedy, as alleged by the 1964 Warren Commission.
Wecht has been a leader in arranging with CAPA and the South Texas College of Law / Houston a unique mock trial, State of Texas vs. Lee Harvey Oswald, that will showcase at the school top medical experts discussing evidence. Proponents from CAPA believe the evidence will show conclusively on the basis of scientific facts that Oswald could not alone have killed Kennedy, in contrast to claims by government authorities and the vast majority of news reporters..Details of the mock trial are here. Many researchers believe also that Oswald did not fire any shots, but such a conclusion is not necessary to raise doubts about the professed certitude of authorities that he acted alone.
Newman, a historian and national intelligence expert, argues that Oswald was an undercover intelligence operative and that agencies have tried through the years to hide embarrassing information. Hardway, an attorney and former staff investigator for Congress into Oswald's alleged activities, argues in his column that intelligence agencies and the news media have concocted the smear "conspiracy theory" to deter honest investigations into the Kennedy death.
Hornberger, leader of the Libertarian think tank Future of Freedom Foundation and also an attorney and a book publisher, predicted early this week that Trump would back away from his promise to release all documents. Hornberger alleged days ago that Trump, as deal-maker, likely promised transparency in order to frighten secrets-keepers at the FBI and CIA to make a secret deal to help protect his own secrets and viability despite ongoing federal probes into his 2016 presidential campaign and subsequent actions.
Trump's White House statement contradicting his earlier statements said in part:
The American public expects -- and deserves -- its Government to provide as much access as possible to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records (records) so that the people may finally be fully informed about all aspects of this pivotal event. Therefore, I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted.
At the same time, executive departments and agencies (agencies) have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. I have no choice --today -- but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our Nation's security.
To further address these concerns, I am also ordering agencies to re-review each and every one of those redactions over the next 180 days. At the end of that period, I will order the public disclosure of any information that the agencies cannot demonstrate meets the statutory standard for continued postponement of disclosure under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (44 U.S.C. 2107 note) (the "Act").
A CIA spokesperson added:
We welcome the President’s directive to conduct further review of the records in the JFK Assassination Records Collection to identify any additional information that can be released, while still protecting our officers, partners, sources, and methods.CIA has been working diligently to release to the public as much CIA information as possible from the collection.
Pursuant to the JFK Assassination Records Act of 1992, more than 87,000 CIA records were identified as falling within the scope of the collection.
Of those, CIA has already released more than 69,000 records to the public in full, without redaction. Every single one of the approximately 18,000 remaining CIA records in the collection will ultimately be released, with no document withheld in full.
While some of these 18,000 records currently contain targeted redactions, the information redacted represents less than one percent of the total CIA information in the collection.
CIA’s current redactions were undertaken with the intent to protect information in the collection whose disclosure would harm national security -- including the names of CIA assets and current and former CIA officers, as well as specific intelligence methods and partnerships that remain viable to protecting the nation today.
The news coverage from mainstream media focused heavily on reporters' claim that "conspiracy theorists" dominate the debate and steer the public away from what the reporters consistently claim is Oswald's guilt. The news organizations bring forward for the most part the same few supposed experts who with near-unanimity allege that Oswald in fact killed Kennedy, acting alone.
CNN -- whose parent company Time-Life played a key role in suppressing the Zapruder film that provided contrary evidence to the mainstream narrative that Oswald killed Kennedy with three shots from the rear -- exemplified the questionable news coverage the evening of Oct. 26. CNN's commentators repeatedly mocked critics of the official narrative. The anchors and experts (clearly cherry-picked to reiterate the death's official narrative) framed their discussion around whether delays in providing evidence would fuel "conspiracy" thinking. That stressed the commentators' theme that the most important documents in the case were those involving Oswald's purported Communist sympathies.
Our immediate goal with this column is to report the evening's breaking news ASAP.
Future reports here will follow up in more depth with analysis of why the U.S. mainstream news media remain so committed to reiterating a narrative that the American public reject by large majorities, according to public opinion polls showing that between 60 and about 75 percent of Americans reject the Warren Report's main conclusion -- and thus the standard news accounts by media elites.
As a further preview, we note that we now know conclusively that the CIA led the way in a secret propaganda campaign against the American public and in violation of the CIA's charter to manipulate the nation's news media to popularize the smear "conspiracy theorist." This is shown by a previously declassified 1967 CIA document, known as "CIA Dispatch 1035-960."
The 50-page CIA memo instructed its agents to contact their media contacts and disparage as "conspiracy theorists" those who were criticizing the Warren Commission findings that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and acted alone. The 1967 document is here in the original, and here in reformatted text of its summary. Minutes of CIA meeting that same year indicated fear that New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison would win a conviction in his murder conspiracy case naming International Trade Mart executive Clay Shaw as being at the center of a plot to murder the president.
Shaw, the only person ever indicted in connection with the JFK murder, was acquitted after he denied that he was involved with the CIA and after many key prosecution witnesses died in untimely fashion.
Garrison outlined his theory of the case in video that NBC broadcast in 1967 (under rules then requiring a right of reply) in response to NBC's attacks on Garrison to thwart his prosecution. In a 27-minute address to the nation, Garrison argued in favor of a rational evaluation of evidence and against what he called a dangerous "fairy tale" being spread by the Warren Commission and powerful media about the Kennedy murder case in order to confuse the public. At the eight-minute mark or so, Garrison talks specifically about the importance of his documentary evidence -- even though he possessed only some of the four million pages of evidence declassified primarily in recent years about the assassination.
The 1991 film JFK by Oliver Stone portrayed Garrison as a truth-seeker, and led to popular pressure on Congress to order release of suppressed JFK assassination documents. Some four million pages have been released so far. These provide informed researchers fairly clear ideas of what had caused Kennedy's murder and why it still matters.
To be continued.