Several people have drawn attention in recent months to CIA records on James Walton Moore, both before and after the 12/15/22 releases. This note and a second one, also now posted, take a look at Moore’s records to see what is newly released in 2022 and what is still redacted.
Who was J. Walton Moore?
Moore was head of the CIA field office in Dallas, Texas in 1962-63, when Lee Oswald was in town. Moore was an effective field officer and had many sources in Dallas. One of these sources was George De Mohrenschildt, a Russian born petroleum geologist resident in Dallas.
In 1962-63, GD was one of the few people willing to hang out with the sullen, taciturn Oswald. Moore is therefore the focus of intense interest among a number of researchers because they believe he represents, through GD, a possible CIA link with Oswald.
Moore has two large files in the JFKARC: an OP (office of personnel) file, and an OS (office of security) file.
The OS file was cited in the MFF suit against NARA/Biden as being over-redacted and hence grounds for over-turning Biden’s administrative memo ordering NARA and the redacting agencies to go through another round of redaction reviews. This file is mentioned in the MFF FAQ page on the suit, located here.
Both these files are complicated. They will take time to explain. This post will deal with the OS file.
OS files in the JFKARC
The CIA OS files as preserved in the ARC are a hard nut to crack. Many of these files were released by the CIA in redacted form in 1993-1994, before the ARRB got going. They were released as complete files, but did not have regular identification aids (RIF sheets) or record identification numbers (of the form 104-XXXXX-XXXXX). Instead, they used accession numbering that the CIA uses internally, and had non-standard iden aids that I call NIAs.
When the ARRB went over these redacted files, they had the CIA open up some of the individual documents in the file and allowed others to remain redacted even after 1998, depending on the complicated rules that the ARRB worked out with NARA and the ARC contributing agencies. After this review, rather than have CIA enter all the OS files as a single, unified record, with one RIF sheet, the ARRB had CIA (and other agencies such as the FBI), prepare individual RIF sheets for each document in the file.
As a result, when starting out with the individual documents, the only way to figure out that these were originally part of one file is to look at the box and folder numbers embedded in the comments field in each document’s RIF sheet. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be quite difficult to put the files back together.
To make matters even nastier, the wondrous MFF online repository of ARC records has only a partial set of OS records/docs. The rule seems to be that if a document was released unredacted in a big compound OS file, it was not separately released to the AARC, the organization from whom MFF inherited their monster collection.
If there were redactions in a document, and these redactions were released, in part or in whole, in a later version of the doc, as overseen by the ARRB, the CIA then supplied the AARC with that individual unredacted, or partially unredacted, record.
Putting together a copy of an OS file which incorporates all of the latest releases of all the individual documents originally in the file is therefore a most laborious task, which is academic slang for “a giant pain in the ass.”
Reconstructing J Walton Moore’s OS file
What does the MFF suit have to say about this? How do they show that the current versions of all the documents in Moore’s OS file are severely redacted enough to warrant judicial relief? I don’t know. The MFF FAQ page simply cites the old 1993-94 version of the file using the old CIA accession number: 1993.07.22.17:13:03:960590 This file does NOT represent the current state of Moore’s OS file.
How do you find out what that state is? Fortunately for my sanity, I eventually figured out that this old version of the file was simply assembled from documents with consecutive identification numbers. It starts with RIF# 104-10124-10216 and ends with RIF# 104-10124-10347, thus incorporating 132 individual records.
Not all of the OS files incorporated in the JFKARC are like this. The Moore OS file is simpler than others, but the cost is that the original order of the documents in the Moore OS file has been changed. How do I know this?
Well, I know this because most OS files start with a boilerplate memo for the record, written by OS officer Bruce Solie, followed by a log sheet that the CIA asked HSCA researchers to sign so they could keep track of who read what when. An example of the boilerplate memo, this one chopped out of Lee Harvey Oswald’s OS file, is here. An example of the log sheet from the same source is here.
Why do I say Moore’s OS file is not in its original order? The MFR and the log sheet were placed at the beginning of OS files, but in the Moore’s file the MFR is page 26 and the log sheet is page 27. That is one reason.
Another reason is that the documents in an OS file are usually in chronologically descending order, most recent first and earliest last. The documents in the Moore OS file are in semi-random order, except for the fact that they map onto consecutive RIF numbers.
So, overall, a giant pain in the ass.
Here is a page by page listing of docs in Moore’s OS file and links to unredacted or semi unredacted versions of the docs, all matched up with RIF sheet info for each doc. Explanation is below.
Releases old and new in Moore’s OS file
The spreadsheet linked to above has the following format:
1) page number of the 93-94 release,
2) link to a corresponding version of that page/doc in later releases incorporated in the MFF collection,
3) link to a corresponding version of that page/doc in the new 2022 releases
4) the record number of that page/doc
5) date for that record as given in the JFK database
6) number of pages for that record as given in the JFK database
7) title for that record as given in the JFK database.
There are a couple of docs that are not in the 93-94 release and not available via links at the MFF collection or among the NARA releases. I have marked these (NA). The JFK database says these docs are released in full, they are just not anywhere on line. Write to NARA for a copy or go see them yourself.
As we have ground through several releases of these docs, there are sometimes multiple versions in the MFF collection. I have only linked to the most recent one there. As of this writing, MFF does not yet have copies of the 2022 releases online, so I have linked to the copies at NARA. If you see both a link to MFF and NARA docs, you can compare the two and see exactly what info was released this time.
There were 19 records from Moore’s OS file that had information released this time. Fifteen of these records are now released in full. Four documents still have redactions. (These are marked in the spreasheet with asterisks.)
So what exactly is still unreleased in the Moore OS file after December 2022?
104-10124-10258 – This doc is called a “case analysis.” there are seven CIA employee names still redacted.
104-10124-10259 – This doc is called “Cryptographic Clearance.” One CIA employee name is still redacted. The from line says the doc is from “Chief, Personnel Security Division, OS”, but this is not necessarily the person whose name is redacted here.
104-10124-10275 – This is a memo with eight CIA employee names still redacted. These are people who need to renew their contact credentials in October 1967.
104-10124-10280 – This is a form title “Special Clearance or Billet Approval.” One CIA employee name is redacted. The title of the employee seems to be “Chief, Admin Staff, DCS.”
My two cents
I worked pretty hard to figure out the ins and outs of this stuff and I feel entitled to publish my two cents. I don’t think the remaining redactions are significant as far as the JFK assassination is concerned. Should the CIA release these last redactions? The law says they should, but we will have to wait another six months or so to see what they do about it. I have nothing further to say about this.