To the Editors:
The following open letter has been sent to Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States and head of the National Archives and Records Administration, regarding the recent dismissal of my lawsuit to gain access to the records of a CIA officer that are believed to be relevant to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. According to a 1992 law, the government is required to declassify records relating to the assassination.*
Dear Mr. Weinstein,
We the undersigned are published authors on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and former members of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). We call on you to resolve doubts about whether the JFK Records Act of 1992 is being enforced. Those doubts are raised by Judge Richard Leon’s September 29, 2006, dismissal of the lawsuit seeking release of records about deceased CIA officer George Joannides.
At issue are the records Joannides generated in 1963 when he served as the chief of the Psychological Warfare branch of the CIA’s Miami station. We called for release of these records in letters published here in August 2005 and December 2003. Judge Leon’s ruling ignores the consensus that the material is relevant to the historical record of Kennedy’s assassination.
Judge Leon’s decision serves to hide from public view government records that would shed light on what a decorated CIA officer learned of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before Kennedy was killed and why that same officer concealed what he knew from Congress in 1978.
We urge you to take action to reverse the corrosive effects of this decision.
The agency’s position, upheld by the courts, is that it will not search the Joannides files for JFK records. This obtuse posture is inconsistent with the law, which mandates immediate review and release of all JFK records.
We request that the Archives designate an independent expert to review the CIA’s operational files on Joannides. Any JFK-related material should be declassified with the exception of living sources and genuinely sensitive national security information.
With its unanimous approval of the 1992 JFK Records Act, Congress sent a message that the American people want full disclosure on this key event. That is the imperative and we urge you to act on it.
G. Robert Blakey, former counsel, House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)
Jefferson Morley, journalist
Anna Nelson, former member, Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB)
Jeremy Gunn, former counsel, ARRB
Gary Cornwell, former deputy counsel, HSCA
Scott Armstrong, founder, National Security Archive
Rex Bradford, senior analyst, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Vincent Bugliosi, former LA District Attorney
Don DeLillo, novelist, Libra
Paul Hoch, JFK researcher
David Kaiser, historian, Williams College
Michael Kurtz, historian, author, The JFK Assassination Debates
James Lesar, attorney
John Newman, historian, University of Maryland
Gerald Posner, author, Case Closed
Anthony Summers, coauthor, Not in Your Lifetime
Oliver Stone, director, JFK
Robbyn Swan, coauthor, Not in Your Lifetime
David Talbot, founder, Salon.com
Gordon Winslow, retired archivist for the Clerk of Court, Dade County, Florida
David Wrone, historian, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
*See related letters in these pages, ‘JFK’s Assassination,’ The New York Review, December 18, 2003; and ‘Blocked,’ The New York Review, August 11, 2005.
March 15, 2007