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Call the Assassination Records Review Board Back into Existence


As some of us have been predicting, the CIA appears to be gearing up to continue its cover-up in the JFK assassination, specifically regarding the tens of thousands of long-secret CIA records relating to the Kennedy assassination that the National Archives is set to release this coming October. An article in Politico last week entitled “Will Trump Release the Missing JFK Files?” by Philip Shenon quoted CIA spokesperson Heather Fritz Horniak as saying: “CIA continues to review the remaining CIA documents in the collection to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously-unreleased CIA information.”

We are talking here about records that are more than 50 years old. There is no possibility that the release of any of those records will cause the United States to fall into the ocean or will cause the federal government to fall into the hands of the communists.

There is, however, one distinct possibility: that the release of those long-secret records will further incriminate the CIA in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which is the reason why it is almost a certainty that the CIA will request that those half-a-century old records continue to be kept secret from the American people.

It’s time for Congress to reassert itself in the matter and call the Assassination Records Review Board back into existence. Otherwise, there is a distinct possibility that the CIA’s will succeed with a continuation of its cover-up.

Oliver Stone issued his movie JFK in 1991. The movie posited that the U.S. national security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI — effected a high-level, extremely sophisticated domestic national-security regime change operation here in the United States on November 22, 1963, a regime-change operation that was no different in principle than others that it had been undertaken or would be undertaken in the future on grounds of “national security,” such as Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1960-to date), Congo (1961), and Chile (1970-1973).

At the end of Stone’s movie, there was a blurb that pointed out that the national-security establishment was continuing to keep its records relating to the assassination secret from the American people. That blurb created an enormous outcry from the American people, who demanded that Congress do something about the Pentagon’s and CIA’s continued secrecy in the JFK assassination.

Congress responded positively to the public furor by enacting the JFK Records Act in 1992. There was one big hurdle to overcome, however: George H.W. Bush, the previous director of the CIA who was then serving as president of the United States. The possibility that Bush would sign the JFK Records Act into law was virtually nil.

However, in a twist of political fate, Bush was running for reelection against Bill Clinton, who came out publicly in favor of the law. Bush was boxed in. In the hopes of getting reelected and not being accused of facilitating a cover-up, Bush signed the act into law.

The law required all federal agencies, including the Pentagon and the CIA, to disclose their long-secret records relating to the assassination. As Douglas Horne documents in detail in his five-volume book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, what those long-secret records ending up disclosing were powerful pieces of circumstantial evidence that pointed in the direction of the criminal culpability of the national-security establishment. (See, for example, FFF’s ebooks The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger and JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the ARRB.)

There were two major flaws in the law, however.

First, someone slipped a provision into the law that prohibited the ARRB from reinvestigating any aspect of the Kennedy assassination.

Now, think about that for a moment. If the commission were to discover evidence of criminal culpability from those long-secret records that the law was requiring the Pentagon, CIA, and FBI to disgorge, the law prevented the commission from launching an investigation into the matter. Does that make any sense? If the commission were to discover evidence of criminal culpability, wouldn’t we want that to be investigated?

For example, when the commission discovered that there had been two separate brain examinations as part of Kennedy’s autopsy, one that involved a brain belonging to a person other than John F. Kennedy, the commission was prohibited from launching an investigation into the matter. (See “The JFK Brain Mystery” by Jacob G. Hornberger.) Or when former Navy official Saundra Spencer told the commission under oath that the autopsy photographs in the official record were not the ones she developed during the weekend of the assassination, the commission was prohibited from launching an investigation into the matter. (See “The JFK Autopsy Cover-Up: The Testimony of Saundra Spencer.”)

The other flaw in the law was that it permitted federal agencies to keep certain assassination records secret for 25 years while permitting the ARRB, whose mission was to enforce the law, to go out of existence. That enabled the CIA to keep thousands of its records secret for another 25 years, knowing full well that the ARRB would be long gone by the time those 25 years had expired.

What will those long-secret records reveal? No, there won’t be any written confessions or admissions of guilt. From the inception of the CIA in 1947, it has been established national-security state policy to never put any reference to covert assassinations into writing.

However, it is a virtual certainty that those tens of thousands of pages of long-secret records will reveal more pieces of circumstantial evidence supporting the thesis that Stone set forth in his movie JFK.

According to an article in JFKfacts.org, at a press conference last March federal Judge John Tunheim, who chaired the ARRB back in the 1990s, called for the release of all the records pursuant to the October 2017 deadline. “It’s time to release them all,” Tunheim said. “There’s no real reason to protect this information.”

What we thought was not relevant back then might be quite relevant in 2017,” Tunheim said, referring to the case of George Joannides, a deceased CIA officer. “We didn’t think he was that important and we later learned we were wrong. [Additional files on Joannides were] “probably unlawfully withheld by the agency. I don’t know that for a fact but it seems likely.”

Judge Tunheim has also used the words “misled” and “treachery” to describe the CIA’s misconduct relating to CIA operative George Joannides. (See here and here.) He pointedly stated, “If [the CIA] fooled us on that, they may have fooled us on other things.” (See “Why Won’t the CIA Release Its Joannides Files? by Jacob G. Hornberger.)

The CIA knows full well the extent of the long-secret circumstantial evidence that surfaced in the 1990s as a result of the JFK Records Act that pointed in the direction of a national-security state regime-change operation.  It stands to reason that they would save the most incriminating circumstantial evidence to the last — i.e., another 25 years and maybe even forever. Indeed, keep in mind that the CIA could have authorized the National Archives to release those long-secret records a long time ago. Instead, the CIA has waited the full 25 years, no doubt hoping that an apathetic public or a submissive president would come to its assistance and grant another extension of time for secrecy.

Under the JFK Records Act., all that the CIA has to do now is ask President Trump to grant it another extension of time for continued secrecy, on the ground of “national security.” There is virtually no doubt that a President Hillary Clinton would have approved such a request. During the campaign, it appeared as though Trump would be independent of the national-security establishment. Given that Trump has fallen into line with the national security establishment on foreign policy, Russia, North Korea, and NATO, however, there is now the distinct possibility that Trump will give the CIA whatever it wants.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the notion that disclosure of 50-year-old records will endanger “national security” is ridiculous to the extreme. Despite the disclosure of countless assassination related records in the 1990s, over the vehement objections of the CIA, the United States continued standing, as did the federal government. The same thing will happen in October if the rest of those long-secret records are released.

Those long-secret records do not belong to the CIA, Pentagon, or the FBI. They belong to the American people. The job of the ARRB was clearly not finished when it disbanded in 1998. Congress should call the ARRB back into existence for the purpose of finishing the job it was charged with in 1992 — to secure the release, once and for all, of all the national-security establishment’s records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

NOTE: Former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, who runs the excellent website JFKfacts.org and who is the author of FFF’s ebook CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files, will be bringing people up to date on the secret files to be eleased in October at FFF’s June 3 conference “The National Security State and JFK.” Morley was also the person who discovered the importance of the Joannides matter to which Judge Tunheim referred. I hope you’ll join us at what promises to be one of the best conferences in FFF’s 27-year history.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.