2017 JFK ARC releases at NARA: Release 5

[First posted on November 19, 2017 at rgr-cyt.org]

NARA released a fifth set of ARC documents on November 17. According to NARA’s press release, there are 10744 documents in this set (144 previously withheld in full, 10600 withheld in part), all from the FBI. Once again there are duplicates in this set, this time 7 documents that have the same RIF numbers as do documents in the fourth release on November 3. This puzzled me enough that I went back and checked. Here are the results in a table:

Document RIF 11-03 doc 11-17 doc
124-10211-10454 11-03 11-17
124-90143-10043 11-03 11-17
124-90143-10044 11-03 11-17
124-90143-10430 11-03 11-17
124-90143-10432 11-03 11-17
124-90144-10004 11-03 11-17
124-90144-10078 11-03 11-17

There are actually two pdfs on NARA for each of these documents. Although they are the same documents, with identical RIFs, the pdfs released on 11/17 have removed most of the redactions that were in the 11/03 pdfs. This “double” release seems unnecessary. Why release redacted versions then two weeks later release unredacted versions? Why not just release the unredacted versions on 11/03? Perhaps the FBI had agreed to release the unredacted versions at the last minute and the corrected list didn’t get through to the NARA team posting the documents. Or perhaps not.

Not that big a deal, of course, but it does make one wonder how to do a real document count. I don’t see any point in counting these documents twice; subtract 7 from the official count of 10744 to make 10737 documents released this time. So what about the duplicate documents I noted in my last post? There were all listed twice, first under the 7/24 release, then again under the 11/03 release. Some of these were real duplicates, i.e. only one document is available from NARA. Here is a list of these:

Identical documents in 7/24 and 11/03 Releases

In the remaining 13 cases, however, there were two distinct files, listed again below:

Document RIF 7-24 doc 11-03 doc
104-10268-10001 7-24 11-03
104-10268-10003 7-24 11-03
104-10268-10005 7-24 11-03
104-10268-10007 7-24 11-03
104-10268-10009 7-24 11-03
104-10268-10011 7-24 11-03
104-10268-10013 7-24 11-03
104-10268-10015 7-24 11-03
104-10439-10114 7-24 11-03
104-10512-10245 7-24 11-03
104-10512-10245 7-24 11-03
104-10433-10097 7-24 11-03
104-10433-10097 7-24 11-03

All of the 7/24 files have RIF sheets, none of the 11/03 files do. All of the RIF sheets for the 07/24 files refer to a ‘case NW 53216’, for which I have not yet found any useful references. Other than the RIF sheets, the two sets of files are identical; no redactions seem to appear in any of them, though some of the files are quite long and I can’t 100% guarantee it. Like the 7 duplicate files listed above, I don’t see the point in counting what are actually the same documents twice. Thus in future counts, I will subtract all these 29 duplicates from the total.

There are other glitches in NARA’s spreadsheet of releases worth noting. As one might expect, the guys at the Mary Ferrell Foundation have been keeping an eye on the releases, and they noted that the 11/09 spreadsheet had changed the status of 13 documents released on 10/26, from previously “withheld in full’ to ‘withheld in part’ (see here). As a result, the count of documents released on 10-26 that were ‘previously withheld in full’ went down from 52 to 39.

I checked my tables and found the same thing. The newest spreadsheet, however, has now reverted this change of status back to what it was before. In other words, the 10/26 count of documents previously withheld in full has gone back up to 52. Having spent some time on the counts in my last post, I’m frustrated by this sort of flip-flop, but since they’re posting so much faster than I expected, I’ll hold back on revising my status counts for at least another week or two. Some of my other counts also seem to be different from Mary Ferrell’s as well, so a careful audit is in order.