The Mary Ferrell Foundation's project to digitize CIA records provided by the Assassination Records and Research Center (AARC) is complete. Released under the JFK Records Act and in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and lawsuits, these CIA files comprise more than 400,000 pages of formerly-secret records.
These documents provide a wealth of information on the CIA's anti-Castro program and on the various Cuban exile groups and individuals engaged in it. Other topics of interest include Lee Harvey Oswald's stay in the Soviet Union, his trip to Mexico City, and liaison and monitoring of the various JFK assassination investigations. The CIA files are divided into collections based on their origin:
• Russ Holmes Work File. A JFK assassination file kept by CIA CounterIntelligence historian Russell B. Holmes.
• HSCA Segregated CIA Collection. CIA files made available to the House Assassinations Committee, "segregated" and retained.
• HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm). A related set of documents, microfilmed and then returned to CIA files.
• LA Division Work File. Papers from the Latin America Division's late 1970s investigation of Cuban complicity in the JFK murder.
• CIA Office of Security. Files from the Office of Security, which initially ran the CIA-Mafia Castro assassination plots.
• Miscellaneous CIA Series. Documents which were not part of the above collections, declassified in the 1990s.
• Oswald 201 File. The CIA's voluminous file on Lee Harvey Oswald, which is mainly a post-assassination investigative file.
Also released by the CIA, but filed with other HSCA files, are the notes HSCA staffers took while reviewing CIA files in a secure facility. These notes were retained by CIA and are now declassified.
The National Archives is the repository of the official collection of CIA records available to the public as part of the larger JFK Collection. The Mary Ferrell Foundation's online collection is largely the same set of documents, but is not guaranteed to be a 100% match. Some of the AARC documents were obtained prior to the passage of the JFK Records Act, and contain redactions (blackouts) which may now have been removed in the National Archives' copies. Furthermore, in 2003 the CIA reprocessed 8000 documents for further removal of redactions, and only a handful of these have been obtained by the MFF. Finally, due to an independent FOIA action new CIA records on Operation Mongoose have been declassified, and only some of these have been obtained by the MFF.
Despite the minor differences, the MFF's collection of nearly half a million pages of CIA records is an unparalleled repository of searchable online CIA files. For those actively researching the war on Castro or the Kennedy assassination and the many persons who are part of the story, this collection is a unique resource.
A parallel project involving the AARC's FBI files is ongoing, and will be completed later this year.