Reconstructing the J Walton Moore OS file

This note discusses how I was able to put together again virtually all of a lengthy CIA file using both the latest releases from the ARC and bits and scraps of an ancient file from 1993.

The file

The file I am discussing in this note is the CIA Office of Security file for J Walton Moore, who for many years was the head of CIA’s field office in Dallas, including the period when Lee Oswald was a Dallas resident.

A redacted version of the file is available at the Mary Ferrell website here.

My reconstructed version, put together using unredacted versions of the individual documents in the file, is available here.

Note that the size of the reconstructed version is about 20 MB. The individual documents that I used to reconstruct the file are listed as bookmarks in the pdf. I list each document’s RIF number and MFF docid next to it in square brackets.

There are 61 documents with docids over 300000. These are not available individually at either MFF or NARA. I have chopped these out of MFF’s redacted version and put them in the reconstructed version in the same order they appeared in the original.

The reconstructed version is not a page for page match with the redacted version, however. That is because there were a number of documents withheld in full in the redacted version, with only “document withdrawal notices” to indicate where they belonged.

If the doc was one page long, there is still a page for page match between the redacted file and reconstructed file. If the doc was 18 pages long (e.g. Moore’s personal history statement), the redacted file has only a one page DWN, but the reconstructed file has the whole doc. As a result, the reconstructed file is longer than the redacted file.

There are three docs in the reconstructed file which I could not find unredacted online. The bookmarks for these docs are marked with a “+”. These are on page 58 (redacted name at the bottom), page 95 (a DWN from the redacted version for a one page doc), and page 175 (a DWN from the redacted version for a two page doc).

According to the 2021 update of the JFK database, all three of these documents are in fact released in full. There are simply no unredacted versions of them online. If you need them, write to NARA or visit their College Park facility and see them for yourself.

Caveats and comments

There are numerous passages where these old, mouldering documents are hard to decipher. If you can’t make out something in the reconstructed file, check the different versions of the individual docs I used to put it together. Odds are good that at least a few passages will be more clear in one version than another.

This exercise was done for my own interest, but hopefully it will also be of interest to others. Some researchers have thought that the information missing from the redacted file at MFF is somehow gone and will not be released. This is wrong.

The MFF suit against Biden/NARA asking for release of all redacted records in the ARC cited the redacted file as an example of excessive redaction. All the documents are in fact released in full. It’s just a question of putting them together again.