This Thursday, March 16, at 1 p.m., the Justice Integrity Project is hosting a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that will feature U.S. District Judge John Tunheim and other speakers.
The purpose of the conference is to draw attention to the thousands of pages of official records relating to the JFK assassination that are still being kept secret from the American people more than 50 years after the assassination.
When Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, which posits that the U.S. national-security establishment orchestrated the assassination, came out in 1991, it included a blurb at the end of it informing people that the government was still maintaining tight secrecy over its JFK-assassination related records.
There was such an enormous public outcry over the continued official secrecy, especially because it appeared to be part of an official cover-up of the assassination, that Congress enacted the JFK Records Act the following year, 1992.
To ensure compliance with the law, Congress established a commission called the Assassination Records Review Board. The person chosen to serve as the chairman of the commission was a lawyer from Minnesota, John Tunheim, who became a federal judge in 1995.
The ARRB was successful in securing the release of thousands of JFK-related records that the Pentagon, the CIA, the Secret Service, and other government institutions had steadfastly kept secret for more than 30 years. In fact, many of the mysteries and anomalies pointing relating to the autopsy that the military conducted on Kennedy’s body surfaced when the military was forced to make its records relating to that event public. (See my book The Kennedy Autopsy.) Indeed, what lots of people probably are unaware of is that this is how the American people learned about the top-secret Pentagon proposal called Operation Northwoods, which called for bogus terrorist attacks falsely blamed on Cuba in order to provide a pretext for invading the country and effecting regime change there.
There were three oddities in the law:
First, the law prohibited the ARRB from reinvestigating any aspect of the Kennedy assassination. Therefore, when the ARRB discovered, for example, that there had been two separate brain examinations as part of the autopsy, one of which had to have involved a brain not belonging to the president, the ARRB was precluded from investigating the matter. Another example: When U.S. Navy official Saundra Spencer testified under oath before the ARRB that the autopsy photos in the official record were not the autopsy photos she developed on the weekend of the assassination, the ARRB was precluded from investigating that matter as well.
Second, the JFK Records Act permitted government agencies to maintain the secrecy of thousands of pages of records until October 2017.
Third, under the law the ARRB would go out of existence in the late 1990s, long before the October 2017 deadline for releasing the rest of the records.
Many of the still-secret records are in the hands of the National Archives, which has announced that it intends to release everything in October in compliance with the law.
However, there is a caveat: The CIA or any other government agency can ask the president for another extension of time, based on “national security.”
Some people believe that that is precisely what the CIA would love to do, especially because it stands to reason that a malefactor would strive to keep the most incriminating records secret for as long as he can.
If Hillary Clinton had been elected president, there is virtually no doubt that she would have given the CIA whatever it wanted. With Trump, it’s possibly a different matter, especially given the war that is currently being waged by the CIA against Trump.
There is another interesting factor to consider. When the CIA was ordered to turn over all its JFK-related records to the National Archives in the 1990s, it intentionally and deliberately withheld the records relating to a CIA agent named George Joannides.
After the ARRB went out of existence, it was discovered that Joannides had served as the supervisor of a group of Cuban exiles named the DRE, which the CIA had secretly funded prior to the Kennedy assassination.
The DRE is the group that immediately began advertising Lee Harvey Oswald’s supposed communist bona fides immediately after the assassination. One reason that is significant is that was the assassination technique that the Pentagon and the CIA taught Latin American officials during the Cold War: that with secret state-sponsored assassinations, always blame them on communists in order to deflect attention away from the state.
After the ARRB went out of existence, Judge Tunheim accused the CIA of intentionally misleading the ARRB with respect to Joannides. He stated, “It really was an example of treachery. If [the CIA] fooled us on that, they may have fooled us on other things.”
Unfortunately, even if the CIA fails to get an extension of time for more secrecy from President Trump on the records that are set to be released in October, the Joannides records will still not be released because the CIA did not turn those records over to National Archives, as the law required it to do.
Enough is enough. We are talking about an assassination that took place more than 50 years ago. While the desire to keep secret incriminating information is understandable from the standpoint of a malefactor, the notion that “national security” depends on letting the CIA maintain continued secrecy in the JFK assassination is ridiculous. Hopefully President Trump will deny any request that the CIA makes for continued secrecy. In fact, maybe he’ll even order the CIA to disgorge its Joannides records as well. Whether the CIA would comply with such an order is another question.
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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.