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2017 Document Releases

NOTE: Bookmark this page, and check it from time to time for updates. These will include news items, new essays, and links to the new documents as they are uploaded to the MFF archive.


The JFK Records Act mandated that all redacted and withheld-in-full documents be fully released 25 years after its passage. That date arrives October 26, 2017. The National Archives is preparing to release nearly 3,600 withheld-in-full records, as well as full versions of many more documents currently featuring redactions.

Indeed, this process has already begun. On July 24, the first batch of these releases was put online by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Barring intervention requiring approval of the President, it is NARA's intention to deliver remaining records by the October date.

This page is intended to serve as a focal point for access to these documents and the stories contained within them. MFF has not yet put these documents in our Document Archive, but that will begin soon. Watch this space.

See the sidebar at right for more information about these JFK Records and the release process.

Access to the Documents

NOTE: Watch this space for announcements of inclusion of the new records in the MFF Document Archive.

The initial batch of releases consists of 441 documents formerly withheld in full, and over 3,000 additional documents from which redactions have been lifted.

Download or View the new NARA releases

Also included in this batch are 17 audio recordings of interrogations of Yuri Nosenko, who defected from the Soviet Union in early 1964 with information about Lee Harvey Oswald. These recordings are available for online listening here at MFF.

What's in the New Documents?

Here are links to news articles and essays (ordered by recency) which discuss what is being learned from these documents:

8/15/2017 - What CIA Hid From the Rockefeller Committee by Doug Vaughan and Jimmy Falls. Discusses a particular newly-lifted redaction in an internal Rockefeller Commission memo, discussing CIA's use of a State Department diplomatic pouch to smuggle weapons into the Dominican Republic for use in assassinating Rafael Trujillo.

8/11/2017 - New Files Confirm the JFK Investigation Was Controlled by the CIA - Not 'Botched' as Some Pretended by Jefferson Morley. Morley disputes Shenon and Sabato's interpretation of the newly-released Helms memo (see below), arguing that the CIA controlled, rather than botched, crucial aspects of the Warren Commissions investigation.

8/3/2017 - How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK's Murder by Philip Shenon and Larry J. Sabato. Provides a charitable interpretation of how the CIA "failed to pursue clues" about Oswald's contacts with Cubans and Soviets. It is based on primarily on a 27-page memo prepared for Richard Helms for his Congressional testimony.

8/3/2017 - 2017 JFK Document Release Shows Former Intelligence Analyst Got it Right by Alan Dale. Discusses some of what author and JFK expert John Newman is finding in the new records, including confirmation of many of the cryptonym decodings he made in Countdown to Darkness and for the MFF's CIA Cryptonym Project.

8/2/2017 - Dallas Mayor During JFK Assassination Was CIA Asset, by WhoWhatWhy staff. Reports on author John Newman's discovery of new documents showing that the former Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell, whose brother was CIA Deputy Director until fired by Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs, was a CIA asset.

7/29/2017 - Kelly's Top Ten Newly Released Records by Bill Kelly. Bill Kelly's first look at some of the documents.

Sites Discussing the New Records

These sites are good places to learn more about what's in these records.

JFK Facts. Jeff Morley's blog is a great place for news and articles by Morley himself.

Who.What.Why. Russ Baker's investigative news site includes stories on the JFK assassination and the new records.

CounterCoup2. Bill Kelly is also reporting intensively on the new records.

2017JFK. John Newman spearheaded this site, devoted to the 2017 records and ensuring their full release.

Related Information on MFF

See these MFF resources for investigative tools, context, and additional information:

JFK Database Explorer. This tool lets you explore, filter, and search the metadata of the entire JFK Collection. The tool also lets you focus on the 3,571 withheld-in-full records.

CIA Cryptonym Project. The new records are unredacting new cryptonyms, which will be aided to the MFF's ongoing project to decode these using public records.

Missing Church Committee Transcripts. This essay by Rex Bradford discusses the problem of documents which are known to have existed but have "gone missing." This problem is particularly acute with records of the Church Committee.

About the 2017 JFK Records Act Releases

The 1992 JFK Records Act, passed after public outcry following Oliver Stone's movie JFK, resulted in the creation of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). From 1994 through the 1998, the ARRB declassified millions of records from the investigations into JFK's murder, agencies such as CIA and FBI, and other sources. See the Final Report of the ARRB.

The ARRB, in consultation with government agencies, released many of the documents with redactions, blackouts of cryptonyms, agent names, and other sensitive information. Additionally, thousands of documents were marked "withheld in full" and not released at all.

The JFK Records Act mandated that, absent a Presidential override, all such documents be released in full 25 years after the passage of the law. That date arrives on October 26, 2017. The National Archives has for some time been preparing for this date, and on July 24 began the process by doing an initial online release of a little over 10% of the withheld-in-full records, along with a few thousand now-fully-unredacted documents.

It should be noted that in fact some documents will remain withheld due to legal reasons. These include a number of IRS records (tax returns), plus other records legally restricted, for instance a 1964 interview or Robert Kennedy conducted by William Manchester.

See this annotated transcript of a talk presented last fall by MFF President Rex Bradford at the annual JFK Lancer conference, discussing some of what was already known about the upcoming records from examination of the "metadata" in the National Archives's JFK Database. The video of the talk is available on YouTube. A Newsweek article based in part on this talk was written by Jeff Morley and Rex Bradford

Help Get the Word Out

Have a news item or essay link we should have on this page? Send email to info@maryferrell.org.

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