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«NOVEMBER 22, 1963 (Friday) 12:00 AM (Nov. 22, 1963) Nine Secret Service agents drinking at Pat Kirkwood’s bar the “Cellar Door” in Fort Worth, ...»

-- [ Page 96 ] --

September 29, 1998 (AP) -- An agency created six years ago to ferret out every available fact about the assassination of John F. Kennedy says it has uncovered more than 60,000 government documents shedding some light on that tragedy but had to engage in bureaucratic battles to obtain some. The Assassination Records Review Board has completed its task and turns over its report to President Clinton on Wednesday -- then goes out of business. In the report, it says the government “needlessly and wastefully classified and then withheld from public access countless important records that did not require such treatment.’’ As a result of its work, the board gathered some details about the murder, the investigations, the climate at the time and secret U.S. activities in Cuba and the Soviet Union. But it did not seek to reinvestigate the assassination, and its 208-page report draws no conclusions to affirm or contradict the Warren Commission’s 1964 finding that a “perpetually discontented’’ Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, was the killer. The report says that board -- despite an unusual grant of power from Congress to force the declassification of documents -- hit resistance from some agencies. Some needed urging to produce documents and some required “dunning letters’’ threatening unilateral declassification, the board said. It especially criticized the Secret Service. Two years after the board was created, the board said, the Secret Service destroyed “protective intelligence files’’ concerning “threats to President Kennedy in the Dallas area,’’ Kennedy’s travels in the weeks before the assassination and the activities of the pro-Fidel Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee with which Oswald had aligned himself weeks earlier. “The review board learned of the destruction (of the files on Kennedy’s travels) approximately one week after the Secret Service destroyed them when the board was drafting its request for additional information,’’ the report said. “The board believes that the Secret Service files on the president’s travel in the weeks preceding his murder would be relevant.’’ The board’s work drew praise from both those who dispute the Warren Commission’s “single gunman’’ theory and those who accept the commission’s conclusions.

“They’ve enriched the record,’’ said lawyer James Laser, who runs the private Assassination Archive Research Center and who believes

that government officials took part in a post-assassination cover-up. But as far as answer to the question of who killed Kennedy, he says:

“There is physical, medical, ballistics evidence that leads you to conclude that one person could not have fired all the shots. That’s the one solid thing we know. As to who was behind it, it is still up in the air.’’ Author Gerald Posner, whose book “Case Closed’’ accepts the lone-gunman conclusion, said the board made a significant contribution by providing “documents that help fill in the details of this horrible event in Dallas 35 years ago.’’ A conspiracy theorist, David Lifton, author of “Best Evidence,’’ a 1981 book concerning medical evidence about the assassination, said the new material released by the board will forever change the debate. “These documents give us new dots to connect in all key areas -- the medical evidence, Oswald’s trips to Mexico and Russia,’’ Lifton says. “No one working on the Kennedy assassination today can ignore what the review board did. The true debate now begins.’’ The board has spent more than $8 million to gather and release records. It got more than 60,000 documents from the FBI, CIA, other federal entities and private collections, some of which gave them up reluctantly. To shed more light on the assassination, additional witnesses -- some never previously questioned -- were interviewed. Autopsy results were rehashed with doctors, including one who traveled from Switzerland. Photographs were preserved with digital computer technology. New forensic tests were ordered on a bullet fragment. All the records ultimately will be available to the public at the National Archives. Blacked-out parts of some will remain classified, some until 2017. The board was made up of five people with legal, archival and historical expertise: U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim of Minnesota; historian Henry Graff of Columbia University; Kermit Hall, Ohio State University professor of history and law; William Joyce, Princeton University archivist; and Anna Nelson, professor of foreign relations at American University in Washington.

NBC News’ Tom Brokaw confirms on his broadcast tonight that “millions” of government records relating to JFK’s assassination remain classified as “secret” and will not be released until 2017. US September 30, 1998 There was no cover up of events surrounding the assassination of United States President John F Kennedy, an official review has concluded. A five-member team appointed by Congress to investigate the killing has said there is no evidence of a conspiracy. But it slammed the US Government for decades of secrecy over the assassination. The team’s 208-page report called on the government to change the “current practice of excessive classification of historical documents”. It said making such material public was essential to maintaining freedom. It added: “The review board’s experience leaves little doubt that the federal government needlessly and wastefully classified and then withheld from public access countless important records that did not require such treatment.” Such secrecy, “led the American public to believe that the government had something to hide”, it added The board - a federal judge, three historians and one archivist - examined millions of old and new documents and interviewed people, some for the first time. But it did not address the question of who killed Kennedy. Investigations into the assassination of Kennedy 35 years ago in Dallas, Texas, have caused much controversy and sparked a number of conspiracy theories. The board examined new information about events in Dallas, the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, the presidential autopsy, photographs and reactions of government agencies to the assassination But despite its access to millions of records the board did not have in its mandate the authority to re-open the investigation. James Lesar, director of an independent US organisation researching the assassination, said questions remain unanswered. “We still have an unsolved assassination of a president of the United States that is not being investigated,” he said. The board was appointed in 1992 after Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” supporting a conspiracy theory triggered a huge controversy.





October 5, 1998 Former Navy laboratory technician James Curtis Jenkins states that he, along with physicians and others present at the post mortem examination of the body of John Fitzgerald Kennedy conducted at Bethesda Naval Hospital, discovered a large exit wound at the rear of the president’s skull. This was a clear indication to all present of a shot that entered at the front of the head

-- which is to say, a shot fired by an assassin from a position in front of the limousine, and not from the Texas School Book Depository.

Also noted at the time was a possible wound of entry on the right front of the president’s head. Jenkins first offered his recollections during a 1977 interview with investigators from the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). The memorandum in which the investigators summarized Jenkins’ comments was declassified and released only last month by the Assassinations Record Review Board (ARRB). Also released was Jenkins’ drawings of wound locations, as included in the memorandum. Jenkins’ story has not changed over time; his contemporary account is therefore buttressed by such consistency. Jenkins’ testimony refutes the Warren Commission/HSCA

lone assassin theory as follows:

REAR EXIT HEAD WOUND A CLEAR INDICATION OF SHOOTER POSITIONED IN FRONT OF JFK

LOW BACK ENTRY WOUND RENDERS “SINGLE BULLET THEORY” INOPERATIVE

November 9, 1998 WASHINGTON (AP) -- After President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, an angry J. Edgar Hoover scribbled stinging remarks in the margins of an FBI memo detailing how agents had failed -- sometimes for “asinine’’ reasons, Hoover wrote -- to keep a close eye on Lee Harvey Oswald in the months before the 1963 shooting. The FBI memo was among more than 400,000 Kennedy-related documents released Monday at the National Archives. It has long been known that the FBI mishandled its preassassination investigation of Oswald, who had been watched by agents since 1959 when he defected to the former Soviet Union. But archivists say this is the first time they’ve seen the Dec. 10, 1963, memo containing Hoover’s curt, handwritten remarks about how the bureau bungled the case. The 11-page memo to Clyde Tolson, the No. 2 official at the FBI, was written by James Gale, who conducted an internal probe that revealed ``a number of investigative and reporting delinquencies in the handling of the Oswald case.’’ The memo argues that based on Oswald’s defection, his tendencies toward Cuban leader Fidel Castro and other details known to FBI agents, Oswald should have been placed on the FBI’s Security Index, a list of people considered threats to public officials or national security. The list is available to the Secret Service, which uses the information in its efforts to protect the president. FBI field personnel told Gale they did not think Oswald met the criteria for being on the list. If Oswald had been on the list, law enforcement officials probably would have been more aggressive in checking his status before Kennedy traveled to Dallas. “Certainly no one in full possession of all his faculties can claim Oswald didn’t fall within this criteria,’’ Hoover wrote at the bottom of the memo. John Newman, a University of Maryland professor and former intelligence officer who has written a book on Oswald, said Hoover was angry because FBI agents in Washington, Dallas, New Orleans and New York all had been following Oswald’s movements yet were “flat on their feet’’ in the weeks before the assassination. “Hoover is saying in earthy terms the obvious: How could they have been so incompetent?,’’ Newman said. “Hoover’s written remarks make clear the level of incompetence and embarrassment of the bureau’s handling of Lee Harvey Oswald.’’ Gale’s memo cites several FBI missteps in Dallas. FBI Agent James Hosty, who was assigned to Oswald in Dallas, said the bureau wanted to interview Oswald’s wife, Marina, but didn’t do it in March 1963 because Oswald had been “drinking to excess and (had) beat up (his) wife on several occasions.’’ Hosty said the Dallas bureau opted for a “60-day cooling-off period.’’ This is “certainly an asinine excuse,’’ Hoover wrote. After the cooling-off period, the FBI couldn’t find Oswald or his wife. The pair surfaced a few months later in New Orleans. According to the memo, Hosty said Oswald returned to Dallas in early November 1963 -- the month Kennedy was shot -- but that Mrs. Oswald still was not interviewed because the bureau didn’t want her to think she was “being harassed or hounded because of her immigrant status.’’ “I just don’t understand such solicitude,’’ Hoover wrote. In his memo, Gale suggests the bureau delay disciplinary action against any agent until after the Warren Commission released its findings on the Kennedy assassination. Any leak to the public or media about the FBI taking disciplinary action against its own personnel would look like ``a direct admission that we are responsible for negligence which might have resulted in the assassination of the president,’’ Gale wrote. Hoover responded: ``I do not concur.’’ In mid-December 1963, Hoover quietly censured and placed on probation more than a dozen agents, including Hosty, for shortcomings in handling the Oswald case. (In his book on Hoover, author Curt Gentry wrote that in obtaining his personnel file years later, “Hosty discovered that his answers to Inspector Gale’s questions had been falsified.’’) Gale also suggested the bureau change the criteria for placing an individual on the Security Index “rather than take the position that all of these (FBI) employees were mistaken in their judgment.’’ Hoover disagreed again, writing: “They were worse than mistaken.’’ November / 1998 Missing Files: The JFK Assassination is first broadcast this month on television. John Tunheim and Dr. John Newman both speak on camera. Arthur Kent speaks the following regarding Oswald’s 201 file at CIA: “The information it contains not only confirms the government’s very early interest in Oswald’s activities, but discloses a startling revelation -- Oswald

was directly involved in sensitive intelligence operations for the CIA and probably for the FBI, as well.” John Newman follows with:



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