A flawed review: Problematic redactions in HSCA depositions

This is a follow up to my last note. There are indeed problems with a set of documents originated by the HSCA. As a result, several of the new releases from NARA redact text that was put online as long as 15 years ago. These redactions should be re-reviewed and officially re-released as early as possible.

This note gives the numbers and nasty details. Be warned! The following is hard-core inside-baseball coverage, not for the faint of heart. For those who refuse to eat anything but cake, there will be a second follow up that gives some examples of the mischief these zombies have caused.

The devil is in the duplicates

This problem probably originates in duplicate records from the House Special Committee on Assassination. These records were not properly resolved in the JFK database.1The database, also called the Assassination Collection Reference System, gives metadata on many, but not all, of the records in the JFK Assassination Records Collection.

The records causing problems here are transcripts of HSCA lawyers deposing various CIA officers. The questioning mostly centers around HSCA’s investigation of Oswald’s trip to Mexico in September-October 1963. Since there were two copies of some of the transcripts, these were entered in the JFK database twice, but because there were gaps in the document metadata, the fact that they were duplicates has often been overlooked.

Presenting this whole story online is very messy. What follows is a tentative attempt to fill in these data gaps, and may also have errors.

Metadata in the tables below comes from the 2021 update of the JFK database, except for the subject field, which I added. Where there is testimony from the same person more than once, I have added a number, based on the dates; e.g. [NOSENKO 2] is the transcript from the second time Yuri Nosenko testified before the HSCA.

Two key points to notice:
1) JFK database titles for the depositions are mostly missing or labeled [RESTRICTED].
2) Matching # of pages and doc dates allow us to match up these records in pairs. I have numbered the pairs, and added an a and b to distinguish them.

I did one wierd thing here: #20 is not a pair, it is a single deposition from Ann Goodpasture. I won’t go into the reasons why I did this, but I don’t want to drop it. So there are 49 records listed here: 24 pairs and a singleton.

The subject field is mostly based on what I found in the online versions of these documents, but a couple of transcripts were released in full very early and therefore never appeared online. I have not actually seen these (e.g. James Michael).

In addition, there is one person whose name was “restricted” in the database (see the records below marked 18a, 18b), and I was unable to find copies of this transcript anywhere on line, so I have no idea who he was. As we will see below, the JFK database says this testimony was released in full, but I admit I am curious to know more.

I did not order any of these records from NARA, too long and too expensive. Let me know if someone actually checks and finds a problem with anything here.

# recnum title subject pgs date
1a 180-10110-10008 [RESTRICTED] [NOSENKO 2] 141 1978-06-20
1b 180-10131-10324 TESTIMONY OF YURI IVANOVICH NOSENKO [NOSENKO 2] 141 1978-06-20
2a 180-10110-10009 [RESTRICTED] [NOSENKO 1] 40 1978-05-30
2b 180-10131-10323 TESATIMONY OF YURI IVANOVICH NOSENKO [NOSENKO 1] 40 1978-05-30
3a 180-10110-10010 DEPOSITION OF BRUCE SOLIE [SOLIE] 92 1978-06-01
3b 180-10131-10321 DEPOSITION OF BRUCE SOLIE [SOLIE] 92 1978-06-01
4a 180-10110-10011 [RESTRICTED] [MURPHY] 39 1978-08-09
4b 180-10131-10322 DEPOSITION OF DAVID E. MURPHY [MURPHY] 39 1978-08-09
5a 180-10110-10012 [RESTRICTED] [MICHAEL] 21 1978-07-27
5b 180-10131-10320 DEPOSITION OF JAMES C. MICHAEL [MICHAEL] 21 1978-07-27
6a 180-10110-10013 [PHILLIPS, DAVID 1] 135 1976-11-27
6b 180-10131-10328 [PHILLIPS, DAVID 1] 135 1976-11-27
7a 180-10110-10014 [RESTRICTED] [TOVAR] 48 1978-06-29
7b 180-10131-10325 DEPOSITION OF BERNARD HUGH TOVAR [TOVAR] 48 1978-06-29
8a 180-10110-10015 [PHILLIPS 2] 1 1978-05-11
8b 180-10131-10326 [PHILLIPS 2] 1 1978-05-11
9a 180-10110-10016 [PHILLIPS 3] 105 1978-04-25
9b 180-10131-10327 [PHILLIPS 3] 105 1978-04-25
10a 180-10110-10017 [SHAW, ROBERT T.] 78 1978-05-16
10b 180-10131-10329 [SHAW] 11 1978-05-16
11a 180-10110-10018 [SCELSO, JOHN] 193 1978-05-16
11b 180-10131-10330 [SCELSO] 193 1978-05-16
12a 180-10110-10019 [WHITE, ALAN B.] 64 1978-05-18
12b 180-10131-10332 [WHITE] 64 1978-05-18
13a 180-10110-10020 DEPOSITION OF JOHN A. MCCONE [MCCONE] 54 1978-08-17
13b 180-10131-10331 DEPOSITION OF JOHN A. MCCONE [MCCONE] 54 1978-08-17
14a 180-10110-10021 [RESTRICTED] [EGERTER, ANN] 85 1978-05-17
14b 180-10131-10333 [RESTRICTED] [EGERTER] 85 1978-05-17
15a 180-10110-10022 [RESTRICTED] [MANELL, B] 107 1978-04-28
15b 180-10131-10334 [MANELL, B] 107 1978-04-28
16a 180-10110-10023 [RESTRICTED] [MANELL, H] 65 1978-04-28
16b 180-10131-10335 [MANELL, H] 65 1978-04-28
17a 180-10110-10024 [HIDALGO, BALMES] 46 1978-08-10
17b 180-10131-10336 [HIDALGO] 46 1978-08-10
18a 180-10110-10025 [RESTRICTED?] 88 1978-06-20
18b 180-10131-10337 [RESTRICTED?] 88 1978-06-20
19a 180-10110-10026 [RESTRICTED] [BUSTOS, CHARLOTTE] 71 1978-05-19
19b 180-10131-10338 [BUSTOS] 71 1978-05-19
20 180-10110-10028 [GOODPASTURE, ANN 2] 86 1978-11-20
21a 180-10110-10029 [GOODPASTURE 1] 155 1978-04-13
21b 180-10131-10339 [GOODPASTURE 1] 155 1978-04-13
22a 180-10110-10030 [TARASOFFS, B. AND A.] 109 1976-11-28
22b 180-10131-10340 [TARASOFFS] 109 1976-11-28
23a 180-10110-10031 [LARSON, WILLIAM F.] 86 1978-06-27
23b 180-10131-10341 [LARSON] 86 1978-06-27
24a 180-10110-10032 DEPOSITION OF E. HOWARD HUNT [HUNT] 87 1978-11-03
24b 180-10131-10342 DEPOSITION OF E. HOWARD HUNT [HUNT] 87 1978-11-03
25a 180-10110-10033 [RANKIN, J. LEE] 34 1978-08-17
25b 180-10131-10343 [RANKIN] 34 1978-08-17

Status of the HSCA testimony records

Different copies of the HSCA testimony in some cases have different restrictions and release status in the JFK database, and in the CIA’s 2022 index to redacted documents. Some of these records are in fact missing from the CIA index. Not surprisingly, these records were not released in 2022. Here is a list of current status and restrictions of the records in the 2021 update of the JFK database, and release status in the CIA 2022 index (RIP = Released in part, RIF = Released in full).

# recnum subject NARA status restricts CIA status
1a 180-10110-10008 [NOSENKO 2] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
1b 180-10131-10324 [NOSENKO 2] Redact RIP
2a 180-10110-10009 [NOSENKO 1] Release Open in Full
2b 180-10131-10323 [NOSENKO 1] Release Open in Full
3a 180-10110-10010 [SOLIE] Release Open in Full
3b 180-10131-10321 [SOLIE] Release Open in Full
4a 180-10110-10011 [MURPHY] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
4b 180-10131-10322 [MURPHY] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIF
5a 180-10110-10012 [MICHAEL] Release Open in Full
5b 180-10131-10320 [MICHAEL] Release Open in Full
6a 180-10110-10013 [PHILLIPS 1] Release Open in Full
6b 180-10131-10328 [PHILLIPS 1] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIF
7a 180-10110-10014 [TOVAR] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
7b 180-10131-10325 [TOVAR] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIP
8a 180-10110-10015 [PHILLIPS 3] Release Open in Full
8b 180-10131-10326 [PHILLIPS 3] Release Open in Full
9a 180-10110-10016 [PHILLIPS 2] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
9b 180-10131-10327 [PHILLIPS 2] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIP
10a 180-10110-10017 [SHAW] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
10b 180-10131-10329 [SHAW] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIP
11a 180-10110-10018 [SCELSO] Release Open in Full
11b 180-10131-10330 [SCELSO] Release Open in Full
12a 180-10110-10019 [WHITE, ALAN B.] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
12b 180-10131-10332 [WHITE] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIF
13a 180-10110-10020 [MCCONE] Release Open in Full
13b 180-10131-10331 [MCCONE] Release Open in Full
14a 180-10110-10021 [EGERTER] Release Open in Full
14b 180-10131-10333 [EGERTER] Release Open in Full
15a 180-10110-10022 [MANELL, B] Release Open in Full
15b 180-10131-10334 [MANELL, B] Release Open in Full
16a 180-10110-10023 [MANELL, H] Release Open in Full
16b 180-10131-10335 [MANELL, H] Release Open in Full
17a 180-10110-10024 [HIDALGO] Release Open in Full
17b 180-10131-10336 [HIDALGO] Release Open in Full
18a 180-10110-10025 [RESTRICTED] Release Open in Full
18b 180-10131-10337 [RESTRICTED] Release Open in Full
19a 180-10110-10026 [BUSTOS] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
19b 180-10131-10338 [BUSTOS] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIP
20 180-10110-10028 [GOODPASTURE 2] Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIF
21a 180-10110-10029 [GOODPASTURE 1] Release Open in Full
21b 180-10131-10339 [GOODPASTURE 1] Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
22a 180-10110-10030 TARASOFFS Redact 5(g)(2)(D)
22b 180-10131-10340 TARASOFFS Redact 5(g)(2)(D) RIP
23a 180-10110-10031 [LARSON] Release Open in Full
23b 180-10131-10341 [LARSON, WILLIAM] Release Open in Full
24a 180-10110-10032 [HUNT] Release Open in Full
24b 180-10131-10342 [HUNT] Release Open in Full
25a 180-10110-10033 [RANKIN] Release Open in Full
25b 180-10131-10343 [RANKIN] Release Open in Full

There are NARA problems here. There is NO NARA restriction listed for 1b (the B version of Nosenko 2). For 6a (the A version of Phillips 1), NARA status is release, for 6b, the same doc as far as I can tell, NARA status is redact. Likewise, for 21a (the A version of Goodpasture 1), NARA status is Release, but for 21b, the same document as far as I can tell, NARA status is Redact.

There are CIA problems here. The CIA index has blanks. Wherever there is a blank, it means CIA did not release the record this time. If an A version is blank and a B version says RIP, that’s a problem.

There are also what look like inconsistencies with the JFK database, but remember, the JFK database is from May 2021, the CIA record index is from last month. So, for example, record 20 (Goodpasture 2), NARA says redacted, CIA says RIF. I’ve scanned through the latest release of GP 2, and it looks like all redactions are gone.

Summing up:
1) Records not released this time at all, but which seem to still have redactions: 1b, 4a, 7a, 9a, 10a, 12a, 19a, 21b, 22a
2) Pairs where at least one member is listed as redacted: 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 19, 20, 21, 22

Links to various versions of the testimony

There is one final twist, which is that release of both members of a pair has been very spotty. It’s hard to find docs where both members of the pair are available on line. When they are, the redactions are almost always inconsistent. This makes them a veritable zombie factory.

To allow other zombie hunters to check out the zombies, I offer some links. To keep this readable, and editable, I will limit myself to records with NARA status of ‘Redact’ or CIA status of ‘RIP’

# recnum MFF 2017 2018 2021 2022
1a 180-10110-10008 [NOSENKO 2] MFF 2018
1b 180-10131-10324 [NOSENKO 2] 2017 2018 2022
4a 180-10110-10011 [MURPHY] MFF 2018
4b 180-10131-10322 [MURPHY] 2017 2018 2022
6 180-10131-10328 [PHILLIPS 1] MFF 2017 2018 2022
7a 180-10110-10014 [TOVAR] MFF 2018
7b 180-10131-10325 [TOVAR] 2018 2022
9a 180-10110-10016 [PHILLIPS 2] MFF 2018
9b 180-10131-10327 [PHILLIPS 2] MFF 2017 2018 2022
10a 180-10110-10017 [SHAW] MFF 2018
10b 180-10131-10329 [SHAW] 2017 2018 2022
12a 180-10110-10019 [WHITE, ALAN B.] 2018
12b 180-10131-10332 [WHITE] 2018 2022
19a 180-10110-10026 [BUSTOS] MFF 2018
19b 180-10131-10338 [BUSTOS] 2017 2018 2022
20 180-10110-10028 [GOODPASTURE 2] MFF 2017 2018 2022
21b 180-10131-10339 [GOODPASTURE 1] 2017 2018 2021
22a 180-10110-10030 TARASOFFS MFF
22b 180-10131-10340 TARASOFFS 2018 2022