April 27, 2023: more releases from the ARC

April 27 saw the release of redactions from 355 more records in the JFK ARC. This is on top of redactions released from 422 records on April 12. All 777 records with April releases are now released in full. This note takes a look at the 4/27 releases: where are they from and what kind of information has been released.

Agencies releasing information

Which agencies have released new information this time? Here is a breakdown by agency name and number:

agency number agency name count pct
104 CIA 308 87%
157 SSCIA 9 2%
176 JFK Library 17 5%
179 WC 1 <1%
180 HSCA 10 3%
197 ACE/PTC 1 <1%
198 OSA 9 2%

How many redacted records are left?

As noted above, all documents that had redactions released this time were released in full. This was also the case for the April 12 releases, so that NARA has now released 355+422 = 777 documents in full this April.

In a previous post, we saw that after the December 20222 releases, there were still 4,342 “Section 5” documents in the ARC with redactions. (“Section 5” document was also explained in that post.)

Following the release in full of 777 documents in April, there are therefore 3565 documents in the ARC that still have redactions.

The previous post also discussed which agencies are responsible for the release of these documents. As we saw, the CIA was responsible for the large marjority of these documents. In December 2022, CIA was responsible for the release of 3648 documents. As noted above, the CIA was responsible for all the documents released in April. Currently, therefore, CIA is responsible for the release of 3648-777 = 2871 documents.

Some of these documents were actually originated by other agencies, but include classified CIA information, hence CIA is responsible for its release. How many of these documents were actually originated by the CIA? We can answer this question by looking at the record numbers.

Records that have numbers beginning with the prefix “104” were originated by the CIA. So how many CIA originated documents are still redacted? In December 2022, there were 2905. 373 of these were released in full on April 12, leaving 2532. On April 27, as we saw in the table above, 308 “104” records were released, leaving 2224.

There are also a small number of “104” records which other agencies are responsible for releasing, including the DOD and the State Department. These are not included in my count.

What kind of information was redacted/released?

Several redactions were removed this time from records in the Lee Harvey Oswald 201 file. I have discussed the current state of this file elsewhere. With these latest releases, there are about 20 documents in the LHO 201 file that still have redactions. I have my fingers crossed that most/all of these redactions will be lifted by June 2023.

The most notable of these redactions was perhaps a letter to then CIA Deputy Director Richard Helms from Sir Charles Spry, Director General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The letter (ARC 104-10009-10224) asked Helms to not release Warren Commission document 971, which included a cable from the CIA station in Melbourne mentioning CIA contacts with ASIO.

Another copy of the letter was also released in full here.

The story of CD 971 is complicated, so I will have to skip it here. What makes it notable, to me, is the disagreement that arose between the ARRB and CIA over release of Spry’s letter.

The ARRB, which oversaw the collection and release of documents in the ARC, originally intended to release Spry’s letter in full, a move which the CIA strongly opposed, on the grounds that it was not an American government document, and that unilateral release would violate a formal U.S. agreement with Australia. Eventually the letter was released in redacted form only. I am certain that its release now is with the formal agreement of the Australian government.

There are more documents in the collection concerning this ARRB/CIA disagreement which have not yet been released in full. I presume that there is reluctance on both the American and Australian sides to publicly air this spat.

Another notable release this time is 104-10431-10105. This looked like a typical SSCIA/HSCA memo from the CIA, written by Charles Briggs, who is puzzled over how to handle the growing amount of material being declassified by the agency. After the memo, however, 12 pages in the document were completely redacted.

As far as I can tell, this document is the only April release which had whole page redactions. There are roughly 80 documents still left that have whole page redactions; most of these have only one or two pages held back. It was therefore interesting to see what was behind this large blank space.

It turns out that 12 pages had nothing whatever to do with Briggs’s memo. Instead they turned out to be 12 pages of letters from Marcel Chalet, head of DST, the French counterintelligence agency, written to “Jim” (Angleton!) at various times in the 1970s. My French is almost non-existent, best ask someone else what they say. The name Kennedy of course appears nowhere in the docs. These are simply not assassination related records. Not that I’m complaining about their release!

One final notable release is 157-10011-10124. This is notes taken by Church Committee lawyer Frederick Baron of an interview with William Harvey. There were redactions here, now released in full, which are quite interesting, concerning ZRRIFLE and other matters. Several of thse redactions establish who did what, or at least who Harvey said did what. For example, while serving as Luxemborg COS, Arnold Silver recruited QJWIN, the intent was to use him for FI/D breaking and entering operations. He was not recruited by Harvey, and Harvey never met him. Another long redaction at the end of the doc concerns a discussion with Sidney Gottlieb about trying to use anesthesia to knock out cipher carriers on a train and copy their papers. I would rate this doc as a notable release.

My Two Cents

Is there anything in here relevant to the JFK assassination? Well, there are things relevant to investigations of the assassination, or to the aftermath of the investigation of the assassination. There are also many, many things that have no earthly relevance whatsoever.

I am still convinced there are more releases in full to come. There are still semi-nonsensical redactions, things like stations locations that are redacted, even though the substitute code right next to the blank clearly indicates the cable came from San Salvador. And don’t forget the blood-chilling zombie redactions that haunt the faded papers and forgotten folders of the collection.