Reporters Beware: CIA's Misleading Talking Points on JFK Files

Editor's Introduction: Guest columnist Jefferson Morley, right, writes a timely and important column about the serious difficulties journalists and their jefferson morley newaudiences must overcome to understand documents about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy (JFK) mandated for release this month under a 1992 law.

Morley, who has litigated for some two decades to secure release, argues that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) provided misleading explanations to key reporters this month as it sought to minimize how much information it has successfully suppressed in the latest document release on Dec.15 via a Biden White House process coordinated via the National jefferson morley coverArchives and Records Administration (NARA).

Morley knows the process well. A former Washington Post reporter who covered the topic in depth three decades ago, he went on to write several well-received books on the topic. The first was Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA (University of Kansas Press, 2008), which revealed the shadowy life of the CIA's spymaster chief in Mexico City during the period preceding and during the JFK assassination.

For years, Morley published on the website "JFK Facts" as a free information service for the public. Recently, he relaunched the site on Substack, with this column republished by permission. He is now also vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which under the direction of President Rex Bradford has digitized, indexed and otherwise archived the world's largest private collection of JFK-related and similar assassination digitized documents.

Appendices to this column provide links to archives plus sample news and commentaries from JFK Facts and other prominent sources regarding the Dec. 15 JFK document disclosures. Some articles, particularly from mainstream news organizations, are included to provide context but they are not necessarily endorsed by the Justice Integrity Project and other serious researchers for their overall themes and specifics. Most mainstream treatments, now as since the days following the assassination, adhere to the controversial view that former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK, acting alone. That view, which has prompted generations of expert critics to document evidence discrediting the government's claim, has never been supported by a majority of the American public, according to opinion polls. 

Our Justice Integrity Project (JIP) has published scores of commentaries in a "JFK Assassination Readers Guide" and this editor this month rejoined the board of directors of Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) to help clarify the facts during the upcoming 60th anniversary year of the JFK assassination.

-- Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project Editor


A worker cleans the Central Intelligence Agency logo at an entrance to its headquarters in Langley, Virginia (File photo).

A worker cleans the Central Intelligence Agency logo at an entrance to its headquarters in Langley, Virginia (Associated Press photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Reporters Beware: CIA's Misleading Talking Points on JFK Files 

How the Agency steers journalists away from what it is hiding on Kennedy's assassination

By Jefferson Morley

Below are the CIA’s talking points on the December 15 release of JFK files. They were distributed to select Washington reporters in an effort to blunt the terrible press coverage that the Agency has been getting from mainstream news organizations because of its continuing failure to comply with the JFK Records Act.

Any news reporters, podcasters, tweeters, or commentators tempted to rely on the CIA’s statements about the JFK files should contact JFK Facts or the Mary Ferrell Foundation for comment and fact checking.

The CIA’s talking points are NOT reliable, as our notes show.



Editor's Note: CIA comments below are in Italics. Responses from Jefferson Morley are introduced with CAPITAL LETTERS.


On the Record from a CIA Spokesperson:

CIA is committed to the JFK Act’s goal of ensuring maximum transparency with respect to Government records concerning President Kennedy’s assassination.

john_f_kennedy_smilingFALSE: The CIA resisted full disclosure on its “sources and methods” related to Lee Harvey Oswald since the day President Kennedy was killed. When Commission attorneys pressed for access to CIA files on Oswald, in March 1964 counterintelligence chief James Angleton said he wanted to “wait out” the Commission.

In May 1964 Deputy CIA director Richard Helms lied under oath when he told the Warren Commission that the CIA’s information about Oswald obtained from other government agencies before Kennedy was killed was “probably minimal.” In fact, Angleton had been monitoring Oswald’s travels, politics, and personal life since November 1959. His staff was even reading Oswald’s mail while JFK was alive.

george joannidesIn June 1978, undercover officer George Joannides, left, lied to the House Select Committee on Assassination investigators by saying he didn’t know the identity of the CIA officer who funded the Cuban exiles who publicized Oswald’s pro-Castro activities before an after JFK was killed. Joannides himself was that officer.

HSCA counsel G. Robert Blakey told PBS Frontline that Joannides obstructed Congress, a felony .

In January 1998, a CIA official falsely disavowed any knowledge of Joannides’ actions in 1963. For the details see [Jefferson Morley] post, “How the CIA Deceived the JFK Review Board.”

CIA: In accordance with the President’s 22 October 2021 memorandum, CIA undertook an intensive one-year review of all previously unreleased information remaining in CIA’s JFK Assassination Records collection, in close collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration, and with an adjusted approach to ensure maximum transparency with NARA and the public.

As a result of this intensive one-year review, CIA released thousands of additional documents in full. In addition, thousands of documents remain released in part, many of them with fewer redactions than before the intensive review.

MISLEADING: Here’s one example what the CIA means by “fewer redactions.”

Take a look at this 1961 memo from White House adviser Arthur Schlesinger to JFK about “CIA Reorganization.” You will see a page and half of text redacted on pp. 3-5.

On Dec. 15, the CIA released the document with exactly one more sentence declassified (on page 3)—and left the rest of the redactions intact, on the grounds that release of the information in this ancient memo would harm national defense today.

What the CIA says “fewer redactions,” they mean in practice is “almost as many redactions.”

CIA: As of today, 95% of the CIA documents within the JFK Act records collection have been released in their entirety, and no documents remain fully redacted or withheld in their entirety.

MISLEADING: The remaining 5 percent of documents amount to more than 3,000 records with redactions. These records include

— 44 ‘denied in full’ documents from the Joannides files;

— Schlesinger’s censored memo;

— Close-door testimony of CIA officers responsible for the surveillance of Oswald in Mexico City;

— Testimony of a senior CIA officer about why Oswald was not debriefed on his return from the Soviet Union;

— A 1963 job description for Anne Goodpasture, a CIA officer who handled a tape of Oswald’s voice, remains redacted.

— FBI report on a “daring” marksman identified by friends (and Cuban intelligence) as a Dealey Plaza gunman;

Q: What kind of progress has CIA made in its review?

We have been working closely and actively with the National Archives and Records Administration to review these documents quickly and will keep doing so.

We have made tremendous progress in our review of CIA’s collection of records. We’re talking about over 87,000 documents originally included in the JFK Act collection. And as of today, CIA has completely disclosed more than 84,000 of those to the public without any redactions. That amounts to about more than 95% of those documents, released in full.

No documents remain redacted or withheld in full.

FALSE: The 44 Joannides documents that Judge Tunheim told President Biden should “absolutely” be released remain “denied in full.”

Q: There are claims that CIA is withholding information related to Lee Harvey Oswald. Is this true?

The assertion that CIA has been holding, and has not disclosed, a set of documents about Lee Harvey Oswald that were part of now-deceased, former CIA officer George Joannides’ files in the JFK Collection is false.

MISLEADING: It is true the CIA has released the Joannides documents that the ARRB put in the JFK Collection in the 1990s. The Agency has NOT released the 44 Joannides documents that it refuses to put in the JFK Collection, despite Judge Tunheim’s recommendation.

CIA: We believe all CIA records substantively related to Mr. Joannides were previously released, with only minor redactions, such as CIA employees’ names and locations.

ABSURD. In September 1978, when Joannides served as liaison to the HSCA, the CIA generated a fitness evaluation of his work. This document is “denied in ful.” In July 1981, Joannides received a medal, in part for his work in Miami in 1963 and his work with the HSCA. A five-page memo about WHY Joannides received this medal is “denied in full.”

The CIA’s claim that these records are not “substantively related” to Joannides’s assassination-related work is absurd on its face.

Q: The previous Chair of the ARRB has claimed CIA withheld information concerning Mr. Joannides and Oswald by not providing it to the ARRB. What is CIA’s response? We are not aware of any instances in which CIA withheld information from the ARRB.

IMPROBABLE: The CIA claims to be unaware of Judge Tunheim’s Dec. 5 letter to President Biden in which Tunheim stated the CIA “deliberately misled us in a very material way” on the Joannides files.

The CIA also claims to be unaware of this January 20, 1998 memo, written by its employee J. Barry Harrelson, in which the Agency falsely claimed the CIA did not know the identify of the case officer who ran the DRE/AMSPELL program at the time of Kennedy’s assassination. (The Review Board subsequently discovered the CIA DID know who ran the DRE/AMSPELL program: it was Joannides.)

Q: What is contained in CIA’s collection regarding Oswald? Did the CIA ever have contact with him?

CIA looked into Oswald based on his defection to the Soviet Union and travels to Mexico City in the 1960s.

SELECTIVE. The CIA opened a file on Oswald upon his defection in November 1959. Angleton’s Counterintelligence Staff monitored his actions, travels, and politics constantly over the next four years. In 1961-62, the CIA read the mail of the man described as a “lone gunman. In September 1962, deputy director Helms received this FBI report on Oswald who had returned from the Soviet Union. When Oswald was arrested for fighting with CIA-funded Cubans in New Orleans in August 1963, Angleton’s top aide, Jane Roman, was notified.

In short, the CIA’s knowledge of Oswald was NOT limited to his defection and his visit to Mexico City.

CIA: CIA never engaged Oswald. CIA information regarding Oswald, including Oswald’s visit to Mexico City from 27 September to 3 October 1963, was included in prior releases. There is no new information on this topic in the 2022 release.

MISLEADING: The Agency’s assets in the DRE/AMSPELL program engaged Oswald in August 1963 by collecting intelligence on him, mounting political action against him, and generating propaganda about his pro-Castro activities in New Orleans. According to his July 31, 1963 job evaluation, Joannides funded the DRE/AMSPELL program for purposes of “political action, propaganda, [and] intelligence collection.”

The CIA did not engage Oswald. The CIA’s assets, guided and monitored by Joannides, did.

BOTTOM LINE: Any news reporter, podcasters, or commentators tempted to rely on the CIA’s statements about the JFK files should contact JFK Facts or the Mary Ferrell Foundation for comment and fact checking.



JFK Assassination Documented and Related Resources Include

NARA Government Documents

National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), Washington, DC. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or nara logohistorical reasons that they are kept forever. 

In 1992, Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. The Act mandated that all assassination-related material be housed in a single collection in the NARA. The collection consists of more than 5 million pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and artifacts (approximately 2,000 cubic feet of records). Most of the records are open for research. JFK researchers may search the NARA online database of recently declassified and still-classified records from the Kennedy assassination investigations. The site provides a Kennedy Assassination Collection Simple Search Form. Some names appear in various forms. For example, records pertaining to Clay Shaw are sometimes coded "CS" while others show up under the search term "Clay Shaw."

NARA News December 2022

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), National Archives Releases New Group of JFK Assassination Documents, Staff Report, Dec. 15, 2022. In accordance with President Biden’s memorandum of December 15, 2022, the National Archives today posted 13,173, documents containing newly released information subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act). Released documents are available for download.

At the direction of the President, and following the December 15, 2021, release, the National Archives and the agencies responsible for withheld documents conducted an intensive review of each remaining redaction withheld under section 5 of the JFK Act. This was the first review under the JFK Act that was done in an interagency manner at the redaction level.

john_f_kennedy_smilingThe John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (the Collection), established by the National Archives in November 1992, consists of approximately five million pages. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without restrictions on access since the late 1990s. Following today’s release, over 97% of records in the collection are now available.

As permitted under section 5 of the JFK Act, agencies appealed to the President to continue postponement of certain information beyond October 22, 2021. Section 5 of the JFK Act permits postponement for an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations where the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The President then provided agencies with a temporary certification until December 15, 2022, to allow for a review of all documents withheld in part under section 5 of the JFK Act and directed agencies “to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency, disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.” Today’s release is the result of that review. Section 5 postponement decisions now affect less than 4,400 documents in the Collection.

As of the December 15, 2021 release, all documents subject to section 5 of the JFK Act had been released in their entirety or in part, and no documents subject to section 5 of the JFK Act remained withheld in their entirety.

CIA LogoThe Collection also includes 515 documents withheld in full and another 2,545 documents withheld in part under sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Act. Section 10 of the JFK Act addresses records withheld under court seal or for grand jury secrecy, and section 11 of the JFK Act addresses records subject to section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code or a deed governing access to or transfer or release of gifts or donations to the United States Government. Information subject to sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Act cannot be released independently by NARA, the agencies, or the President, though some of these documents also contain information postponed under section 5, which has been made available and posted today.

The National Archives and the Department of Justice are working together to determine whether information in five records withheld in full under court seal or for grand jury secrecy under section 10 of the JFK Act can be released.

Also posted online today are the letters from agencies requesting postponement, agency indices, and agency transparency plans.

Online Resources:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), JFK Assassination Records: 2022 Additional Documents Release, Staff Report, Dec. 15, 2022. NARA is processing previously withheld John F. Kennedy assassination-related records to comply with President Joe Biden’s Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Temporary Certification Regarding Disclosure of Information in Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, requiring disclosure of releasable records by December 15, 2022.

The National Archives has posted records online to comply with these requirements.

Accessing the Release Files: The table below displays metadata about all the released documents. You can also download the spreadsheet as an Excel file (1.4 MB).


Other Government or Public-Private Archives

Dallas Municipal Archives, Dallas TX. Beginning in 1989, the Dallas Police Department transferred to the Dallas Municipal Archives, police records relating to the assassination. The collection is reported to contain nearly 12,000 documents and photographs. These include homicide reports, affidavits, witness statements, newspaper clippings and correspondence. The collection is also available on microfilm. The Municipal Archives possesses the original files, except those that have been transferred to the federal government permanently.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, MA. The facility is dedicated to the memory of the nation's thirty-fifth president and to all those who through the art of politics seek a new and better world. "Located on a ten-acre park, overlooking the sea that he loved and the city that launched him to greatness, the Library stands as a vibrant tribute to the life and times of John F. Kennedy." 


Mary Ferrell Foundation

Mary Ferell FoundationMary Ferrell Foundation (MFF), Ipswich, MA. Rex Bradford, President. The Mary Ferrell Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) group engaged in an ongoing effort to bring accessible and interactive history to a new generation of critical thinkers.

With a wide topic base including the assassinations of the 1960s, the Watergate scandal, and post-Watergate intelligence abuse investigations, the MFF’s vast digital archive at contains over 1.3 million pages of documents, government Mary and Buck Ferrellreports, books, essays, and hours of multimedia.

This site is open to all for browsing. Memberships are available that unlock the site's powerful search engine and allow access to PDF copies of documents. Institutional memberships are also available. Find out more about membership in the MFF here

The late Mary Ferrell, a legal secretary in Dallas who immediately suspected after the JFK shooting that archives would be vital to public understanding, is shown at left and at right with her late husband, Buck.


JIP Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination

Justice Integrity Project, Readers Guide To JFK Assassination, Washington, DC, curated by Andrew Kreig. To help researchers of President Kennedy's 1963 assassination and its current implications, the Justice Integrity Project began publishing what is now a 50-part  Reader's Guide in 2013 to coincide with the shooting's 50th anniversary.


Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX. Steven Fagin is president. The museum chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history.


Spartacus Educational

John SimkinSpartacus Educational, United Kingdom. This is a web-based educational maintained by John Simkin, right, an educator. Its index of key figures and topics in the JFK assassination is here. The material is hot-linked to extensive bios and photos. There are approximately 500 names listed in Simkin's database of important figures, witnesses and possible conspirators. The  web-based Spartacus archive contains many topics beyond United States history and the JFK murder.


The Assassination Archives Research Center 

Assassination Archives Research Center (AARC), Silver Spring, MD -- Washington, DC. President James Lesar. The AARC's holdings comprise one of the most extensive collection of records on the JFK assassination in private hands. It has approximately 1,500 books on assassinations, organized crime, covert activities, and a wide variety of other subjects relevant to the study of assassinations and related topics. Its “main files” consist of newspaper and magazine articles, unpublished manuscripts, trial transcripts, photographs, tapes, notes, letters and other materials that fill some 36 four-drawer file cabinets. 


'JFK Facts' Recent Coverage

The Justice Integrity Project strongly recommends that any serious JFK assassination researcher purchase for $60 a year (as our organization did) a subsciption to the "JFK Facts" site and newsletter edited by Jefferson Morley. Shown below are headlines and excerpts from several recent editions.  

Dec. 19

JFK Facts, Analysis: Tucker Carlson, the Liberal Media, and JFK, Jefferson Morley, right, Dec. 19, 2022. A sea change in how the media talks about jefferson morley newKennedy's assassination. The coverage of the U.S. government’s latest JFK document dump on December 15 marked a sea change in how American mass media talks about Kennedy's assassination.

“I turned on “Morning Joe” and I thought I was at a conference in Dallas,” one researcher told me. Jim DiEugenio, producer of Oliver Stone’s JFK documentary, laughed out loud when I asked him about Tucker Carlson’s scorching JFK segment on Fox, which JFK’s nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr., called, in a now-deleted tweet, “the most courageous broadcast in 60 years.”

Katy Tur at MSNBC expressed hope for full JFK disclosure soon. So did Jim Acosta at CNN. NBC’s Chuck Todd was even tougher, reporting “The law demands full JFK record release, but ‘clearly the CIA doesn’t care about those consequences.”’

Dec. 17-18

jefferson morley newJFK Facts, Analysis: Reporters Beware: CIA's Misleading Talking Points on JFK Files, Jefferson Morley, right, author, vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation and former Washington Post reporter, Dec. 17-18, 2022. How the Agency steers journalists away from what it is hiding on Kennedy's assassination.

Dec. 17

JFK Facts, Analysis: Never Mind Biden's Order, JFK Secrecy Prevails, Jefferson Morley, Dec. 17, 2022. For some reason, the CIA cannot kick the habit of resisting transparency on a presidential assassination.

JFK Facts, Analysis: "They Released All the Records We Needed to See--Except the Records We Needed to See," Jefferson Morley, Dec. 17, 2022. Morning Joe weighs in for full disclosure of the Joannides files

JFK Facts, Analysis: Note from a Friend of Lee Harvey Oswald, Jefferson Morley, Dec. 17, 2022. Ernest Titovets befriended an young American in Russia 60 years ago and defends his name to this day.

ernst titovets new coverPaul Hoch, a contrarian computer programmer from Berkeley Calfornia, runs an email list-serve where JFK authors of all stripes bicker and bemoan to no end about their favorite subject, while also sharing tips and stories and opinions. It’s a good place to learn. So I sat up and paid attention when Ernst Titovets posted a note about the the late David Lifton, JFK author. Unlike the rest of us, Titovets is not a spectator to the JFK tragedy. He is in the cast of history

Titovets is a biochemist from Minsk, Belarus. As the rare English speaker in that city in the early 1960s, young Titovets became friends with young Lee Harvey Oswald. His book, Oswald Russian Episode, is among the most affecting in the JFK literature for its intimate portrait of a young man demonized by history.

JIP Editor's Note: Oswald Russian Episode was republished in a hardcover edition in a 2022 edition, with all of the book's editions available via and Kindle, and its author available for interviews via Eagle View Books or JIP.

Dec. 7

JFK Facts, From That D.C. Press Conference on the CIA and Oswald, Plus a New JFK Poll, Jefferson Morley, right, Dec. 7, 2022. Judge Tunheim and former CIA officer jefferson morley newcomment on CIA's pre-assassination interest in the so-called 'Lone Gunman.'

Here’s the Dec. 6 Mary Ferrell Foundation press conference that’s making news at home and abroad..

In my presentation I add more detail to my Nov. 22 post, “Yes, There Is Smoking Gun” laying out what we know about CIA operational activities around accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the summer and fall of 1963 and where the rest of the story is concealed.

Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the Assassination Records Review Board, says that the 44 CIA documents I seek should be made public on Dec. 15.

Former CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen also comments. Watch the livestream on YouTube. 

Dec. 5

JFK Facts, Analysis: Major Break Coming in the JFK Assassination Story, Jefferson Morley, right, Dec. 5, 2022. The CIA is concealing a secret operation that jefferson morley newinvolved accused assassin Oswald.

Many Americans wonder why the CIA is still concealing records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which happened nearly 60 years ago.

We now have the answer. The CIA is hiding something terribly embarrassing, if not incriminating, about its role in the JFK story. In mid-1963, senior Agency officials approved a covert operation that used Lee Harvey Oswald for intelligence purposes, three months before Oswald allegedly shot and killed the president in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The CIA hid this operation from the Warren Commission in 1964, from the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978, and from the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in 1998. The explosive story is told in 44 JFK records that the CIA has “denied in full” to the public.

In an Oct. 2021 memo, President Biden set December 15 for federal agencies to disclose all records related to the assassination. Whether the CIA will release records related to the undisclosed Oswald operation is a test of Biden’s order and the 1992 JFK Records Act, which mandates release of all assassination-related information in the government’s possession.

I will explain what we know—and do not know—about the undisclosed Oswald operation at a press conference at the National Press Club tomorrow, Tuesday December 6.

The event, sponsored by the Mary Ferrell Foundation, puts this major development in the Dallas tragedy into legal, political, and historical context.

  • Foundation president Rex Bradford will speak about what has been learned about JFK’s assassination in the past 25 years and what remains to be done.
  • Attorney Larry Schnapf will speak about the foundation’s lawsuit against Biden and the National Archives for failure to enforce the JFK Records Act.
  • Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the ARRB, will speak about the board’s work and about how the CIA misled the review board on the still-secret records.
  • Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, former CIA officer, will comment on the evidence of the undisclosed Oswald operation.
  • Fernand Amandi, pollster and MSNBC analyst, will present the results of a nationwide poll on Americans’ attitudes toward JFK’s assassination and President Biden order on JFK files.

Watch the livestream on YouTube.

Nov. 27

JFK Facts, Analysis: The Ultra-Reactionaries: Global Analysis of the Dallas Coup, Jefferson Morley, right, Nov. 27, 2022. As we turn to another anniversary of jefferson morley newNovember 22nd, the media narrative of the public skepticism is that these “wild conspiracy theories” fueled a lack of trust in government, and somewhere along the way morphed into current right-wing conspiracy theories such as QAnon.

As Thomas Mallon, author of Ruth Paine’s Garage put it, “I have lately found myself wondering if the dangerous fact-free business of election denial doesn’t have some of its origin in the more fantastical theories that grew up around the assassination decades ago.”¹

This cheap theory of American history only looks at the public reaction to the Kennedy assassination in a vacuum, refusing to understand why so much of the public felt the government was lying to them. It cleanses the hands of J. Edgar Hoover, Allen Dulles, and Richard Helms, while casting anyone who dare doubt those luminaries as deranged fanatical right-wingers.


Other JFK Document-Related Recent News Coverage

Reverse chronological order

Dec. 17

Tucker Carlson Tonight 

Fox News Tucker fox news logo SmallCarlson Tonight, JFK files release is ‘old wine packaged in new bottles’: Larry Schnapf, Tucker Carlson, Dec. 17, 2022 (4:50 min. video segment). New York Law School adjunct professor Larry Schnapf responds to the release of nearly 13,000 documents relating to the JFK assassination on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'

New York Post, How Dallas homemaker Mary Ferrell became main collector of JFK assassination records, Isabel Vincent, Dec. 17, 2022. The National Archives new york post logoreleased a slew of new documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy this past week — all because the Mary Ferrell Foundation pushed for it.

Mary Ferrell’s life changed forever on the day that John F. Kennedy died.

The 41-year-old mother of four, who was working as a secretary for a Dallas law firm, was standing a few blocks from Dealey Plaza where the 35th president was shot dead on November 22, 1963.

Mary Ferell FoundationListening to the radio moments after the assassination, Ferrell heard a description of the suspect, who was first characterized as a white male in his 30s and more than six feet tall, wearing a white shirt and khakis. A short time later, she was surprised when a 24-year-old wearing a brown shirt and brown trousers was arrested.

Lee Harvey Oswald, a US Marine veteran who had visited the Soviet Union, was apprehended less than two hours after the shooting.

“I remember my mother saying, ‘Something’s off here,’” Carolanne Burtchaell, Ferrell’s daughter, told The Post Wednesday from her home in Austin, Texas. “She instantly noticed discrepancies in the reporting. She never believed the stories, and her interest sort of snowballed from there.”

Ferrell, who died in 2004, devoted the rest of her life to assembling an archive of thousands of documents, newspaper clippings and books related to the assassination. Visits to Ferrell’s modest Dallas home became de rigueur for investigators and amateur sleuths who shared her view that “something was off” with the death of the young president.

For her daughter and other students of Kennedy, the National Archives’ release of nearly 13,000 documents related to the assassination on Thursday is testament to the dogged persistence of Ferrell, who befriended some of those close to the tragedy.

marina oswald country styleMarina Oswald, left, the Russian-born widow of the assassin, was a regular visitor to the Ferrell home after the assassination, said Burtchaell. George Mohrenschildt, a geologist and CIA informant who had befriended Lee Harvey Oswald and gave the lengthiest witness statement to the Warren Commission, was another guest, she said.

Ferrell became so influential in the community of JFK historians that two years before her death in 2004, a Boston-based financier started a non-profit to digitize her trove of documents.

Now based in Ipswich, Mass., the Mary Ferrell Foundation Inc has sued the federal government to obtain classified documents related to Kennedy’s death. In October, it obtained documents to a still-classified CIA operation that suggested the spy agency used Oswald for intelligence purposes three months before Kennedy’s death, according to a report.

“This is an extraordinarily serious claim, and it has profound implications for the official story,” author and JFK assassination expert Jefferson Morley told reporters in Washington earlier this month. “The CIA knew far more about the lone gunman than they are admitting even today. So this story deserves the closest possible scrutiny.” Morley is a board member of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, according to the nonprofit’s tax filings.

“I knew about Mary because she was thanked in the acknowledgments of all the books I read about the assassination,” said Oliver Curme, who started the foundation in 2002. “When I met her she was living in a one-story shot-gun house packed to the ceiling with books and papers at a time when an arsonist had been lighting fires in her neighborhood. So it was really important that we do something to protect her documents.”

Curme, who teaches a course on the Kennedy assassination at Brandeis University, told The Post he helped Ferrell’s family pay for an assisted living facility for her in exchange for the archive. When he met Ferrell, she was in her late 70s and in very frail health, he said.

But she was still seeking answers to the assassination, although she was never able to find “the smoking gun” evidence of who Oswald might have been working for, or why the US government might have been covering up the assassination, Curme said.

He said that Farrell showed him several versions of one particular document relating to testimony Marina Oswald gave the Warren Commission about the rifle her husband used to shoot Kennedy.

“Mary showed me several copies of a particular document that had been requested by three different researchers that had Marina’s testimony about the rifle,” said Curme. “That same document at the three different times had slightly different wording and this was very problematic if you believed that there was a conspiracy involving powerful people who had access to the National Archives.”

In another instance, researchers were able to track down a transcript of the conversation that Kennedy’s vice president Lyndon Johnson had with J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the CIA, the day after the assassination. The call had been recorded, but when researchers tried to access the audio recording at the LBJ Library in Austin, they found that the 18-minute tape had been erased, Curme said.

Dec. 16

Biden Releases JFK Murder Documents, Withholds Others


joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

NBC News, Biden releases most JFK assassination records — but withholds thousands, Marc Caputo, Dec. 15, 2022. All the documents should be made public under a 1992 law, but the administration is declining to follow its letter for the second year in a row.

NBC News logoPresident Joe Biden’s administration released more than 13,000 records of President John F. Kennedy's assassination Thursday, but it fell short of fully complying with the spirit of a 30-year-old law demanding transparency by now.

With Thursday's action, about 98% of all documents related to the 1963 killing have now been released and just 3% of the records remain redacted in whole or in part, according to the National Archives, which controls the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection. 

The records include more information on accused gunman Lee Harvey Oswald and his time spent in Mexico City.

But about 4,300 records remain redacted in part — with no record completely blacked-out — according to the agency, and experts say there's no justification for withholding them to protect national security or intelligence gathering.

“We’re 59 years after President John Kennedy was killed and there’s just no justification for this,” said Judge John H. Tunheim, who from 1994-98 chaired the Assassination Records Review Board that was established Under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which Biden voted for when it passed Congress unanimously.

Among the documents that remain largely hidden: 44 related to a shadowy CIA agent, George Joannides, and a covert Cuba-related program he ran that came into contact with Lee Harvey Oswald less than four months before Kennedy was shot, according to calculations made by JFK researchers with the Mary Ferrell Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit repository of the assassination records, which sued the administration to make all the documents public. The foundation says the CIA is withholding most of the records at issue.

Many of those Joannides records were never put in the National Archives' JFK collection, according to the foundation's lawsuit, so the lion's share of the suspected records were not released Thursday.

CIA officials dispute the number of Joannides records in their possession, but they confirmed two were scheduled to be released Thursday.

"We believe all CIA records substantively related to Mr. Joannides were previously released, with only minor redactions, such as CIA employees’ names and locations," the agency said in a press statement in which it boasted of making "tremendous progress" in releasing records.

"We’re talking about over 87,000 documents originally included in the JFK Act collection," the agency said. "And as of today, CIA has completely disclosed more than 84,000 of those to the public without any redactions. That amounts to about more than 95% of those documents, released in full."

Under the JFK records act, all documents related to the assassination were supposed to be released by 2017. But then-President Donald Trump delayed the full publication of all records and ultimately left it in the hands of Biden, who in 2021 delayed full release until Thursday, only to do so again.

Throughout the process, Trump and Biden authorized releases of some information, but those records that remain secret are expected to be the most interesting to researchers, involving government contacts with Oswald.

In a memorandum explaining the release of records and the withholding of others, Biden noted that the records act "permits the continued postponement of disclosure of information ... only when postponement remains necessary to protect against an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

But Tunheim said he heard those arguments in the 1990s and does not believe them. Earlier this month, he wrote Biden a letter urging him to honor the spirit of the law and he referenced Joannides, who guided and monitored an anti-Fidel Castro group called Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (Revolutionary Student Directorate) in 1963 that came into contact with Oswald in New Orleans in the months before the assassination, leading some to speculate about CIA-related complicity in the killing.

As Oswald interacted with DRE and became known as an activist who supported President Castro, the Pentagon was formulating a plan called Operation Northwoods to stage a false flag attack in the United States to blame on Cuba and justify a military confrontation to make up for the aborted Bay of Pigs fiasco two years before. 

The foundation seeks those Operation Northwoods records in its lawsuit, as well as records concerning CIA plans to assassinate Castro and a June 30, 1961, memo from Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to JFK to reorganize the agency after Bay of Pigs.

Jefferson Morley, a JFK expert and vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, said a spot check of the Thursday files showed that the memo was still "largely redacted."

"If the CIA can't bring itself to release a document written two years before the assassination — a memo that is obviously critical of the CIA — you have to question their good faith in whether they are complying with the law," he said.

Related Recent Headlines

ny times logoNew York Times, Trove of Files Relating to John F. Kennedy’s Assassination Is Released, Michael Levenson and Chris Cameron, Dec. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Researchers combing through the 13,173 documents said they hope to shed further light on the government’s actions before and after Nov. 22, 1963.

The federal government on Thursday released a fresh trove of documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a turning point in American history and the subject of persistent conspiracy theories, despite the official government conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot him to death.

Historians and researchers said they were just beginning to comb through the 13,173 documents containing newly released information, hoping they might shed further light on one of the most closely scrutinized murders in recent history and on the government’s actions before and after it.

The documents included records relating to Oswald’s trip to Mexico City several weeks before Kennedy’s assassination in 1963; Oswald’s trip to Finland in 1959, the year he defected to the Soviet Union; and images of his Cuban visa application. Some of the documents — including one about Operation Mongoose, a covert government campaign to rid Cuba of Fidel Castro — included redactions.

Many of the documents had been released previously but now have fewer redactions or none at all, researchers said. Many were scrambling to find out what new information had been revealed.

Mark S. Zaid, a Washington lawyer who has handled Freedom of Information Act cases related to the Kennedy assassination and has pushed for more documents to be released, said, “There’s not going to be any smoking guns. There’s not going to be anything that pushes the needle one way or the other.”

“For someone who has just an interest in the Kennedy assassination, I dare say they will not find anything that will make them gasp,” Mr. Zaid said as he began poring through the records. “The value in these documents is going to be for the die-hard researchers and academics who will now spend months digesting each and every page.”

The National Archives said that more than 97 percent of the records in its collection related to the Kennedy assassination — approximately five million pages — were now available to the public.

President Biden decided last year to delay the release of the latest trove until Dec. 15, 2022, saying the national archivist had reported that the pandemic was having a “significant impact” on agencies that needed to be consulted on redactions.

A 1992 law required the government to make public the last of the Kennedy assassination documents by Oct. 26, 2017, unless the president opted to withhold them for national security reasons. The Trump administration released a trove of Kennedy assassination records in the fall of 2017.

But after intense lobbying by the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., President Donald J. Trump agreed to hold back a batch pending an additional review to ensure that nothing released would damage national security. Mr. Trump told the agencies that any redactions should be exceedingly rare.

CIA LogoThe Collection also includes 515 documents withheld in full and another 2,545 documents withheld in part under sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Act. Section 10 of the JFK Act addresses records withheld under court seal or for grand jury secrecy, and section 11 of the JFK Act addresses records subject to section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code or a deed governing access to or transfer or release of gifts or donations to the United States Government. Information subject to sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Act cannot be released independently by NARA, the agencies, or the President, though some of these documents also contain information postponed under section 5, which has been made available and posted today.

The National Archives and the Department of Justice are working together to determine whether information in five records withheld in full

According to the C.I.A., 95 percent of its documents in the collection have been released and no documents have been fully redacted or completely withheld. The C.I.A. said its collection of records includes about 87,000 documents, approximately 84,000 of which have been released in full.

In a memo on Thursday, Mr. Biden said the “profound national tragedy of President Kennedy’s assassination continues to resonate in American history and in the memories of so many Americans who were alive on that terrible day; meanwhile, the need to protect records concerning the assassination has weakened with the passage of time.”

“It is therefore critical to ensure that the United States government maximizes transparency by disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise,” Mr. Biden said.

The documents made public on Thursday included many that have been previously released with redactions, said Gerald Posner, an investigative journalist and author of “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK.” Mr. Posner said the public has often assumed that most of the documents withheld by the government have never been seen at all.

Mr. Posner cautioned that anyone believing that the latest batch might change the “fundamental conclusion” reached by the Warren Commission in 1964 was on a “fool’s errand.” That commission, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that Oswald was acting alone when he fired three shots from the Texas School Book Depository on Nov. 22, 1963, killing Kennedy and wounding Gov. John B. Connally Jr. of Texas as they rode in an open-topped limousine through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

Still, Mr. Posner said, “the very fact that we are talking 59 years later about what documents the C.I.A. and other agencies are resisting to release in their entirety absolutely feeds the public’s idea that there is something wrong in the Kennedy assassination.”

Surveys over the years have consistently revealed that most Americans believe others were involved in the murder. A House select committee said in a 1979 report that there was evidence suggesting the possibility of a conspiracy but did not identify who those conspirators might have been.

Many of the documents released on Thursday detailed C.I.A. covert operations in Latin America in the years before and after the assassination.

For example, a memorandum dated December 1963, a month after the assassination, discussed efforts to disrupt a meeting of the Unified Labor Federation for Latin America — described as an “assemblage of left-wing labor leaders, socialists, and communists” — in Brazil.

One document outlined C.I.A. efforts to frame Cuba for smuggling Soviet weapons into various Latin American countries, as well as planned operations to bomb power stations, oil refineries and other industrial targets in Cuba.

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives releases thousands of documents on Kennedy assassination, Amy B Wang and Azi Paybarah, Dec. 16, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration on Thursday released another batch of secret government files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 59 years after his murder and more than five years after the documents were originally required by law to be publicly disclosed.

The newly released tranche of files — 13,173 documents — was posted by the National Archives and Records Administration after President Biden issued a memorandum.

“[The] profound national tragedy of President Kennedy’s assassination continues to resonate in American history and in the memories of so many Americans who were alive on that terrible day; meanwhile, the need to protect records concerning the assassination has weakened with the passage of time,” Biden wrote in the memorandum. “It is therefore critical to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency by disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.”

Kennedy’s assassination — and the subsequent withholding of government documents related to his death — spawned conspiracy theories over nearly six decades, particularly surrounding gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone when he killed the president on Nov. 22, 1963, and that there was no conspiracy.

A large number of the documents released Thursday belonged to the CIA. Several focused on Oswald’s movements, his contacts and even whether it was really his signature on a visa application for Cuba. Other documents focus on requests from the Warren Commission.

One document, dated June 22, 1962, notes that Oswald was mentioned in a recent Washington Post article as having defected to the Soviet Union — indicating that Oswald was on the CIA’s radar more than a year before Kennedy was assassinated.

Politico Magazine, The National Archives Is About to Release More JFK Files. Here’s What to Expect, Philip Shenon, Dec. 15, 2022. Fifty-nine years after JFK's death, more information is about to come to light — but not everything.

politico CustomFor this nation’s army of conspiracy theorists, few long-secret government documents have whipped up so much suspicion in the 59 years since President John F. Kennedy’s death as the CIA’s massive, multivolume background file on assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

White House officials hope at least a little of that suspicion will be lifted later today, when President Biden is expected to order the National Archives to release once-classified information from about 8,000 documents related to the assassination, including many drawn from the so-called 201 “personality” file the CIA maintained on Oswald before and after Kennedy’s murder.

Officials involved in negotiations this fall among the White House, the National Archives and the CIA tell POLITICO Magazine the document release will be the most significant since 2017, when then-President Donald Trump waived a supposedly concrete legal deadline to declassify all secret government documents related to the JFK assassination. The 2017 deadline was set under a landmark federal transparency law passed by Congress a quarter-century earlier — the 1992 Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. The bill’s authors said they hoped to tamp down growing public speculation about a conspiracy in Kennedy’s death, especially the wild skepticism created the year before by Oliver Stone’s star-studded, conspiracy-laden film, JFK.

The officials say there are no obvious bombshells in the material expected to be released today; there will be nothing to suggest Oswald was not the gunman in Dealey Plaza or — as many Americans believe — that there was a conspiracy in Kennedy’s death.

Still, they say, the new information will be intriguing to historians and assassination researchers who have sought for nearly six decades to connect the dots about a turning point in American history — and to try to understand what possible justification the government could have to withhold any information at all about a president’s murder. Here are a few things we expect to learn more about when the documents are released:

Surrounded by detectives, Lee Harvey Oswald talks to the media as he is led down a corridor of the Dallas police station.

Oswald’s Mysterious Trip to Mexico City

Several of the newly declassified documents will refer, directly or indirectly, to the activities of the undercover CIA operatives in the agency’s Mexico City station who mounted an aggressive surveillance operation against Oswald when he visited the Mexican capital in September 1963, just several weeks before the assassination. Previously released files from the CIA’s Mexico station show Oswald, a self-declared Marxist who apparently sought to obtain a visa to defect to Cuba, made contact in the Mexican capital with Soviet and Cuban spies, including a KGB assassinations specialist. Those documents suggested the CIA’s Mexico station bungled evidence that, had it been passed on quickly to the Secret Service and other agencies in Washington, could have saved Kennedy’s life.

Philip Shenon, a former Washington and foreign correspondent for the New York Times, is author of A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination.