CIA working files and DCI minutes

This note concludes my survey of CIA record categories in the JFKARC. It is the fourth and last note in the series. Links to the series are available here. The two categories summarized below include fewer than 540 records, but some of these are quite interesting.

The DCI morning meeting minutes

From the early days of the CIA, the DCI (head of the CIA) held a meeting every morning with CIA executive officers, a practice that lasted up until the mid-1970s. After the 1970s, the meetings shifted to once a week.

In 1991, Jim Lesar, chief legal counsel for the Assassination Archives Research Center (AARC) filed an FOIA request for discussions of JFK assassination matters that came up in the morning meetings over a span of about 15 years. The Agency declined due to the volume of minutes. Lesar then filed suit.

There is a fair amount of documentation on the suit and Lesar-CIA negotiations in ARC record 104-10337-10003. This is a compilation of a dozen or so documents, some of which are also available individually under other record numbers. Eventually Lesar prevailed in his FOIA suit, as he usually did.

The meeting minutes, marked “DCI” in the JFK database, stretch from 1963 to 1979, with a total of 415 pages in 14 records. No great revelations, but they do provide a documentary record of CIA’s first responses to reporting, investigations, and legislation. The MFF JFK Database Explorer has links to all these records available here.

Agency working files

The final category of CIA records in the ARC is “working files.” These are marked in the RIF sheet comments field as ‘JFK-WF’. (See the first note in this series for a more detailed explanation.) They can also be found using the JFK Database Explorer at the MFF weebsite (see here).

The category is actually divided into two groups: working files from the Office of Security (13 records) and working files from the Latin American Division (506 records). The OS records are all products of the Church Committee investigation into the assassination, but I don’t know why they are separated from the HSCA records here.

The LAD records are from the JFK Review Task Force which was established after Volume V of the Church Committee report was published. Volume V, also known as the Schweiker-Hart Report, was the Church Committee’s investigation into the JFK assassination. It was critical of numerous aspects of the CIA reporting on the assassination, particularly on CIA’s failure to look into possible Cuban involvement in the assassination.

After this criticism, CIA formed a Task Force to review the findings of Book V, and to examine its Cuban holdings for evidence of Cuban involvement. This latter task was assigned to the Latin American Division, and the LAD files represent the results of the review process. They consist of summaries of various projects and reporting from the projects. that suggested either Cuban government threats to the USG or exile plans targeting Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The Task Force reports are a neglected subject in the assassination literature and worth a detailed look. I will have more on this topic in the future.

Like the other categories of CIA records we have looked at, the LAD files are divided into boxes and folders: five boxes and 36 folders. The folder numbering is not all sequential, so for example no folder 2 in boxes 1 and 3, no folder 1 in box 4, etc. Don’t know what’s up with that.

Also, most of the records from box 5 are unavailable online. Again, not sure what’s up with that, but they are all listed as released in full in the latest JFK Database.

Two cents

These last two categories of CIA records are by no means trivial contributions to the ARC. The LAD files in particular have interesting and even important information not available elsewhere in the collection, adding to our understanding of USG Cuban programs and policy in this fraught period.

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