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FBI Records Project Complete

With the last pages of the FBI HSCA Subject Files collection now online, the Mary Ferrell Foundation's project to digitize major collections of FBI 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 FBI files comprise more than 450,000 pages of formerly-secret records.

More FBI documents from the AARC will continue to be added, including files on Cuban exile groups and more MURKIN documents, but the major FBI collections from the AARC are now online. These include:

Additional FBI files from the AARC available here include files on the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Los Angeles Field Office (LAFO) files on the Robert Kennedy Assassination, and logs and calendars of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Personal note from Rex Bradford:

I was introduced in 2000 to Jim Lesar, President of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), when I presented to him a proposal to digitize the AARC's records. I had recently launched the History Matters website after falling down the same rabbit hole as many before me - in my case after reading the amazing Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) medical testimony and exhibits and waiting in vain for the New York Times to pick up the incredible stories of cover-up told therein.

I had made a CD-ROM of the ARRB medical files and was in the process of putting the Warren Commission 26 volumes online, and had already set my sights on the larger collections the ARRB had been busy declassifying during the mid-to-late 1990s. On my visit to the AARC in 2000, Jim showed me the vast array of hundreds of boxes of CIA and FBI files recently shipped to him in settlement for a lawsuit brought against the agencies by Mark Allen way back in 1981.

Ultimately there wasn't the money and resources at that time to take on those collections, but I began working with Jim on smaller projects including the reports and transcripts of the Church Committee, the Clay Shaw trial transcript and grand jury transcripts, and the 50,000-page Russ Holmes Work File CIA collection, a daunting project for my one-man operation. I put these on CD-ROMs and much of them I also put online at History Matters and the AARC website I set up.

In late 2005 the Mary Ferrell Foundation website was launched, and three years later we now have over 1,200,000 pages of these files online. Last Friday, I uploaded to the website the last page of that vast array of CIA and FBI boxes that I first gazed at almost 9 years ago now. Every page is now freely available to anyone in the world with an internet connection, to read and ponder.

There is no secret government report that exposes the "full truth" of the JFK assassination (or if there was, it self-destructed after 5 seconds long ago...). But to paraphrase the words of my friend Peter Dale Scott: the government records on the Kennedy assassination are at best an oblique path to the truth, but they're the best path we've got. There is abundant evidence of cover-up and aborted investigation in them, what Senator Schweiker called the "fingerprints of intelligence" all over Lee Harvey Oswald, and many wispy trails which some still follow, these 45 years later, in hopes of revelation on the big questions.

I think the records serve another purpose beyond trying to answer the question "Who Killed JFK?" They are a window into the inner workings of our government and powerful factions at the fringes of government, at least in a particular period of our history which is still all too recent. Someone once said that to understand the Kennedy assassination would be to unlock the true nature of the national security state. I think that's true, and that truth has motivated my passion to open up this hidden history as widely as possible.

The completion of these FBI collections is a major milestone for me and for the Foundation. I would like to thank the many people who helped along the way, in particular my compatriots at the MFF: Tyler Weaver, the Foundation's director, Amy Gaspar-Agyepong and Diana Crouse-Gaynor who provided countless hours of scanning and indexing, and the major technical contributions of Rick Roman, Jeff Mandel, and Nicolae Herrera. Thanks also to our past directors Lona Therrien and Noa Simons. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jim Lesar, an unsung national hero who has spent his career wrestling secrets from the federal government. And of course thanks to Mary Ferrell, who inspired so many during her life and in whose name and spirit this venture lives on.

We are not done putting JFK assassination records online by a long shot - there are many boxes of additional AARC files to go, along with stacks of pages collected on trips to the National Archives and from private collections donated to the MFF. In addition, we will shortly be branching out into related and important topics, including the Watergate crisis and the post-Watergate intelligence investigations. Important aspects of these stories dovetail with the 1960s assassinations and illuminate them. Our history is of a whole cloth after all.

Stay tuned for future projects like our new CIA Cryptonym Project. Send feedback and ideas to info@maryferrell.org.

- Rex Bradford, 17 Dec 2008

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