NF18: Another list from NARA

[First posted on February 9, 2018, at]

Another list from NARA has been posted, this time at The Black Vault. The link can be found here.

According to the link, the list is the result of an FOIA case (#NARA-NGC-2018-000072), and the BV was nice enough to provide both a pdf and excel version of the list, very handy indeed. The list seems to be NARA’s latest assessment of the state of the JFK Assassination Records Collection. BV cites a letter from NARA which states:

We conducted a search and were able to locate an EXCEL spreadsheet that lists everything that has not been released since December 15th, 2017 (the last release date). We are releasing this document in full with no redactions. The spreadsheet lists the JFK record number, the decision, the file number, document date, number of pages, and the origination agency.

The list totals 22933 rows (excluding the field list at row 1). Counting up, 798 rows are listed as ‘Withheld’, the remaining 22135 are listed as ‘Redact’.

I interpret this as follows: ‘Withheld’ means the document has not yet been released. ‘Redact’ means the document has been released, but not in full. (As the 2017 releases show, these redactions can be anywhere from 2 letters to whole pages.) I also think the list is intended to be comprehensive. This is a description of the entire JFK ARC collection.

I thought this was a straightforward explanation, but BV has a different interpretation. They write:

However, upon investigation, NARA also listed the entire set of PARTIALLY released records, along with those completely withheld. Digging deeper, and with the help and verification of Jimmy Falls of the news agency WhoWhatWhy we came up with the same numbers, using two entirely different methods. It confirms there are 3,082 Documents, totaling 217,114 Pages that are not yet released to the public.

I was quite puzzled by this and left a note on the BV forum asking about this. I haven’t yet seen their response, but will post if they do. In the meantime, I have probably figured out what they did. They compared the new list, (hereafter NARA 2018) to the release 6 spreadsheet posted at NARA here (hereafter NARA 2017). There are indeed 3082 records on NARA 2018 which do not appear on NARA 2017, and using the number of pages listed in NARA 2018, these add up to 217,114.

The 3082 figure includes all of the 798 records that are ‘Withheld’, and these are indeed not yet released, I believe. The remaining 2284 records were not posted at in 2017, but most, if not all, of these records were released long ago, as indicated on the NARA on-line catalog of the JFK Assassination Record Collection. Many of them are available at Mary Ferrell. As an example, all of the records in the group ‘124-90104’ which appear in NARA 2018 but not in NARA 2017 (a total of 70) are up at the MFF.

Of the total of 2284 records, all the ones I have checked so far are listed at either Mary Ferrell or on the NARA catalog as ‘Released with deletions’. It would be nice to see the deleted material, but one cannot say that these records are not yet released.

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