More on “duplicate” records in December 2022

This note continues the previous note, which looked at “duplicate” records in the December 2022 releases. This odd type of releasing has occurred more than once in the ARC, and is worth a closer look for people who obsess over the mechanics of ARC declassification methods.

For everyone else, this is hardcore inside baseball, and you should probably skip this note.

The story so far

In the note before this one, I discussed a puzzling set of releases from 2018-2022. These were multiple releases of an FBI record in the ARC, record number 124-10167-10378. Although the record belonged to the FBI (hence the “124-” prefix), it also had CIA “equities”, meaning that it was based, in part, on information supplied by the CIA.

Based on the “third agency rule” which Federal agencies try to apply to all declassification issues, if you have classified info in your docs that came from someone else, you have to get their permission before you release it. This usually means you give them the page that contains the info and they review it to make sure you don’t blow their sources.

In the record discussed last time, the FBI liaison file with the Pike Committee had CIA info in it. The pages with this CIA info were extracted from the FBI doc, reviewed by the CIA and released with CIA redactions in them for 2018. The entire FBI document was also released at this time, but incorporating the CIA redactions that had been separately released.

As a result, there were four versions of record 124-10167-10378 released in 2018: three cia redacted fragments and one fbi file with redactions.

For 2022, CIA dropped its request to redact information in the file. The FBI released the entire file unredacted, and to register the fact that the CIA info was now released in full, the three cia redacted fragments from 2018 were released again, this time without any text removed. Anyway, that is my theory. Which is mine.

For the researcher, what all this amounts to is that, unless you are researching redactions (like me), you only need to look at the 2022 FBI version of the file, not the other bits which went through the CIA catch and release process.

ARC 124-10185-10098: another example of CIA releases in FBI records

If you thought all that was confusing, wait till you see this one. ARC record number 124-10185-10098 is lengthy FBI file, whose true name is 62-116395, serial 386. The entire thing is 343 pages long and is available unredacted here.

This seems to be a long section (“serial”) from another FBI liaison file, this time with the Church Committee. Big chunks of this file were incorporated in the FBI liaison file with the HSCA, but I’m fairly sure that its origin was with the Church Committee, though eventually it apparently morphed into a liaison file with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Anyway, this section, serial 386, is almost completely irrelevant to the JFK assassination. It covers a series of memos detailing possible CIA complaints against the FBI, and also, of course, FBI complaints against the CIA. This is a long topic, with roots going back to World War 2. Interested readers might look at Mark Riebling’s book Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11, How the Secret War between the FBI and the CIA has endangered National Security, published all the way back in 1994.

The sole item relating to the JFK assassination is here. FBI and CIA cooperation on the JFK assassination investigation was actually strong (in my opinion), but FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was incredibly sensitive on this subject. The tempest in a teapot described on this page is as harsh as the conflict got. And as noted, this is the sole assassination-related item in a 343 page document. There are dozens of other incidents discussed in these pages.

As one might expect, much of the information in this doc was subject to the “third agency rule”. As a result, in April 2018 there were thirteen file chunks released, labelled 124-10185-10098, 124-10185-10098_1, … 124-10185-10098_12. Chunks 4 and 6 were released in full. The remaining chunks all had at least one item redacted.

In 2021, however, the entire FBI file was released in full, and this is the version linked to above. Then, to make sure that everyone knows that the redacted file chunks were also released in full, 10 unredacted file chunks were released in 2022. This time the pdfs were named using the hybrid naming system described in the last note, but all of them can be identified with specific 2018 chunk releases.

There was at least a little bit of method in this chunky madness; there was no full FBI file release in 2018 (a highly redacted version was released in 2017). As a result, if the CIA wanted to make public the stuff they were releasing, the only way to do this was to publish the chunks that they had cleared. This explanation gives the 2018 releases some small bit of sense.

My two cents

The result of all this partially releasing was of course total confusion on the part of people who were trying to keep track of the records released. The Mary Ferrell Foundation website used a variety of methods to handle these multiple files; some of the chunks for both 2018 and 2022 were not even put up on the website. Of course, the complete, unredacted file released in 2021 is there for all to access.

The situation is as I have described it. My explanation of why NARA, CIA, and the FBI did this is my theory. My very own.