Thursday, May 25, 2017

Applying ABLE DANGER to Dealey Plaza


posted by Supporter @ 6:00 PM  |
2000 Analyst Notebook Link Chart

UPDATE: These charts were produced with Orion Magic, not Analysts Notebook, although both tools are compatible.

If you look at this chart from February 2000, you will notice some similarities and some differences between it and the unclassified chart from Peter Lance shown below.

UPDATE: Dana at Common Sense Political Thought has more details on the Philadelphia Inquirer's latest attempt to use Able Danger to discredit Weldon:

At times, he acts less like a congressman and more like a shadow secretary of state or head of the CIA.

Among Weldon's notable forays into the world of spies is the Able Danger speech he made on the House floor last year.

In that speech, Weldon asserted that a secret intelligence program called Able Danger had fingered three of the 9/11 hijackers before the deed, but that the government failed to act on the information - thus losing a chance to prevent the attacks.

As my colleagues Chris Mondics and Steve Goldstein reported in these pages last week, no credible evidence has been found to verify Weldon's Able Danger theory.

So Tony Shaffer, JD Smith, Scott Phillpott, and Eileen Preisser have no credibility?

A theory is merely speculation. Facts are details of real events. Facts can either be proven or disproven. None of these four individuals are speculating or proposing theories. They have all testified to the facts as they know them from personal, first hand experience. If someone can show they are all either lying or delusional, then they can all start calling Weldon "wacky". Until then, they have no damn right.


Stratus Ivy holdings of Able Danger documents
This unclassified supplement to the testimony at the open hearing in the House Armed Services Committee was submitted for the record, but not posted on their web site. Of particular interest is the fact that there were between 8 and 12 large charts, plus 4 to 6 targeting binders, still in existence as of March 2004:

ABLE DANGER was a planning effort, tasked to SOCOM by JCS. The task was to identify and target Al Qaeda on a global basis and, using advanced technology (data mining; massive parallel processing; complex algorithmic refining tools, etc) and enhanced visualization tools, present options for leaders (national command authority) to manipulate, degrade or destroy Al Qaeda.

STRATUS IVY became SOCOM ABLE DANGER Teams Forward Support center. As ABLE DANGER was based in Tampa and, at one point, Garland, TX, to minimize the amount of classified and large charts they had to transport back and forth to conduct meetings at the Pentagon, a full set of documents was left with STRATUS IVY. There are e-mail strings on the TS/SCI DIA LAN on this too.

Last Known Location of Full Copy of Material: 3rd Floor of DIA Facility Clarendon VA in the DHO-3 (Pacific Division) area – on east side wall cubicle.

Last Known Time Material Was There: 1st Week of March 2004.

Alternate location: Defense Intelligence Agency Inspector General Office, Bolling AFB, DC – should be part of investigative files. Operational, Authority, Approval and Coordination documents only – not the entire set.

Document list for ABLE DANGER

Stored in a brown leather strap briefcase was the following:

- Chairman JCS Planning Order to CINC SOCOM to plan to conduct offensive operations against Al Qaeda under the nickname Operation ABLE DANGER.
- Operational Authority Documents for SOCOM and DIA to conduct planning and intelligence collection to support ABLE DANGER.
- Cover Plans and related background documents for ABLE DANGER to conduct intelligence collection and protect operational activities.
- All related official message traffic between SOCOM and Army on the LIWA support issue.

Stored outside but near the brown briefcase:

- Between 8 and 12 large “charts” – most if not all unclassified that showed the Al Qaeda targeting results (graphic representation/summary of all the 2.5 Terabytes of data that was used by the ABLE DANGER targeteers.
- 4 to 6 White plastic binders of Data Base array plans and methods and related charts.

MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2006

An update from Mark Zaid

On Friday, I had a conversation with Tony's attorney Mark Zaid about both the latest and the next developments in the case. Among other things we discussed his rare comic books business, He appreciated our donations, but so far they amount to less than five percent of Tony's legal bills to date. If you have not made a donation, please consider it.

Friday morning, Mark was in court again on the recent suit they filed to attempt to win legal representation for Tony and JD in any future closed hearings before Congress. In summary, he said the government is "throwing the kitchen sink at us" and will file a motion to dismiss on multiple grounds by April 7th. Among other things, the DoD attorneys are claiming the court has no jurisdiction or standing to take the case and has raised "service of process" issues, as well. This after they blocked Mark from representing Tony in closed session the morning of the Armed Services hearing.

Anyway, Mark will have up to a month to respond to the motion to dismiss, at which point the government will have two weeks to reply to his response. The earliest it could even go to trial is June, but it will probably be much later. In the meantime, he will be back in court March 21st filing document production requests and interrogatories. None of these documents involve the critical Able Danger documents, but rather documents involved in the DoD effort to deny legal counsel to Tony. Again, the government will have thirty days to respond. The main problem from Mark's point of view, is not that they are making this prohibitively expensive for him to pursue, but rather that Congressional hearings are pending and this needs to be resolved right away. If the judge rules that Tony and JD have a right to counsel after all the hearings are over, it will not make much of a difference.

As he had discussed on our conference call in February, Mark said the four things bloggers could help with the most were the following. First, provide as much data and analysis as we can, since the media is not covering it so there is no where else people can go to learn the facts. Second, encourage as many people as possible to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to take an active role in getting to the bottom of this. Third, contact their local newspapers, radio stations, and talk shows. Ask them to start covering Able Danger. Fourth, as I mentioned above, the more financial support we can give to the legal battle he is waging against an army of DoD lawyers, the more likely it is that he can succeed.

Unfortunately, this is not just an academic argument. As Tony makes clear in his written testimony, the capability that Able Danger had does not exist today. When he was deployed in Afghanistan, based out of Bagram Airbase, pursuing High Value Targets along the border with Pakistan, he did not have the kind of actionable intelligence that Able Danger had provided years before 9/11. That is why the Able Danger team is so adamant this needs to be pursued. The fact that some officials are still more interested - five years later - in covering up their mistakes than in preventing the next attack, makes you understand why Curt Weldon chose the title for his book that he chose - "Countdown to Terror". Clearly, the clock is still ticking.

Unfortunately, a lot of high level bureaucrats are betting they can wait it out.
2004 Raytheon Genesis Link Chart
Just got these. I believe it is one of the posters Weldon used in his June 2005 speech. Based on who created it, J. L. Boesen, I'm fairly sure it was created using Raytheon Genesis. I always wanted to have someone send me a close up, so we could see what is says, and here it is. The main thing it shows is an approximation of what an Able Danger chart might have looked like, although this was made in 2004.

I've got more photos of more charts where these came from, but these are the only ones that I've cleaned up to post so far.

Goldstein Strikes Back
In our conference call with Congressman Weldon, he told us that he had embarassed Steve Goldstein of the Philadelphia Inquirer in a speech at a national press event, by explaining that he had offered Steve the Able Danger story, but Steve turned him down. Then when it showed up on the front page of the New York Times three days in a row, the Philadelphia Inquirer had to run the New York Times byline, instead. Well, Steve hasn't bothered to look into the story much since then either, but that hasn't stopped him from declaring that the Able Danger story is now "unraveling".

From today's issue of the Philadephia Inquirer:

But Weldon's story, which unleashed a wave of national media attention as well as probes and congressional hearings, is unraveling.

He now says that he's not sure the chart had a picture of Atta, as he has sometimes maintained, and that he has been relying on the memory of an intelligence analyst who helped produce it.

Weldon has always explained that he is telling the stories of the intelligence analysts who produced the charts. He did not produce the chart himself. Two of them have now testified before Congress, under oath, that they saw the name and photo of Mohamed Atta on that chart. That would seem to add to the credibility of the story - not unravel it - but hey, I guess I'm not the professional journalist.

From Tony Shaffer's sworn testimony:

Late September 2001. Eileen Preisser calls me for coffee and tells me she has something she needs to show me. At coffee she shows me a chart she had brought with her – a large desk top size chart. On it she has me look at the ‘Brooklyn Cell’ – I was confused at first – but she kept telling me to look – and in the “cluster” I eventually found the picture of Atta. She pointed out (and I recognized) that this was one of the charts I LIWA had produced in Jan 2000, and had a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach – I felt that we had been on the right track – and that because of the bureaucracy we had been stopped – and that we might well have been able to have done something to stop the 9/11 attack. I ask Eileen what she plans to do with the information/chart – she tells me that she does not know but she plans to do something.

Last week of September 2001. I am on my normal afternoon run from the Pentagon to the Lincoln Memorial – and I receive a call from Dr. Preisser. She tells me “you’ll never guess where I am” – she tells me about sitting in the outer office of Scooter Libby and the fact that she, Congressman Curt Weldon, Congressman Chris Shays and Congressman Dan Burton are going in to brief Steven Hadley on the Atta chart. I am both amazed and satisfied that the Atta information and our work on ABLE DANGER had been provided to proper government leadership and fully expected that the ABLE DANGER team might even be reconstituted. It was not.

MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2006
This is funny

And if the President is censured but continues to pursue warrantless surveillance programs like the NSA’s, Able Danger, and others than some officials and whistleblowers have hinted at, the Republicans will have little choice but to accede to impeachment proceedings.

Impeached for pursuing Able Danger? Since when has Bush even pursued Able Danger? Weldon has compared the coverup of Able Danger to Watergate, but if people want to impeach Clinton again after the fact for pursuing the program, I guess they can try.

UPDATE: Thersites writes, "I thought AbleDanger was another surveillance program, when apparently it's not. I appreciate the info, and will edit my post accordingly." Now, if only Bill Arkin would listen to reason too, we might be making some progress here.
posted by Supporter @ 1:46 PM  |
Able Danger Hearing Transcript
Curt at Flopping Aces has the completed transcript. You can also download it as a PDF file he created here.

Here is one of many interesting exchanges:

WELDON: I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Dr. Cambone, do you agree in your assessment — or your team here — that the Able Danger team identified five hotspots, what they called hotspots, which would include Malaysia, Mauritania, Hamburg, Germany, New York and Aden, Yemen?

CAMBONE: Yes, there’s said to be that sort of designation of places, to include the Brooklyn cell issue.

WELDON: Now, I realize you can’t speak on behalf of the 9/11 Commission, obviously, and I’m not asking you to. But let me ask you this.

After having identified those five hotspots, and then having an attack on the USS Cole in the Port of Aden, Yemen, how could anyone in their right mind classify Able Danger as historically insignificant?

Seventeen sailors were killed in one of the five hotspots that the Able Danger team, you’ve just acknowledged identified?

How in the world could any commissioner on any — well, I’m asking you — could you think of how anyone could classify that work, after we had a warship, 17 sailors killed at one of those hotspots, and to call that work historically insignificant?

CAMBONE: Sir, I didn’t do the work for the 9/11 Commission, and I was not involved in that kind of effort.

WELDON: How about your own opinion?

CAMBONE: I don’t know how they would answer.

WELDON: I think that there’s a lot of information that was generated over that period of time. And I don’t know that the crew in the Able Danger exercise was the only one to have identified troubles in Yemen and Aden at the time.

And that, as a consequence of the investigations that were done, what we discovered is, information that might have been available through a variety of channels, hadn’t been made available. That’s a matter of record, sir.

And so, you know, there you are. I didn’t do the look at Brooklyn cell and the other cells. I mean, that was the 9/11 Commission’s function.

WELDON: But you know that they identified five cells. And one of those five cells was, in fact, a location of where 17 of our sailors were murdered.

The Department of Defense has conducted a search specifically for Able Danger products. Has any search of DOD databases been conducted, to determine if any Able Danger data was incorporated into other second and third order intelligence products? And if not, why not?

CAMBONE: Intelligence products as such, I don’t know that. I do know that — I know — what I’ve been told is, and I’ve mentioned this already, as the planning process moved forward in the 2001 timeframe, in the Joint Staff, information generated in the Able Danger project was taken into other planning efforts and documents. Substantially.

But in terms of an intelligence product, I don’t know the answer to that. 
Network Theory and Able Danger

After Sept. 11, Valdis Krebs, a Cleveland consultant who produces social network "maps" for corporate and nonprofit clients, decided to map the hijackers. He started with two of the plotters, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and, using press accounts, produced a chart of the interconnections — shared addresses, telephone numbers, even frequent-flier numbers — within the group. All of the 19 hijackers were tied to one another by just a few links, and a disproportionate number of links converged on the leader, Mohamed Atta. Shortly after posting his map online, Krebs was invited to Washington to brief intelligence contractors.

Announced in 2002, Adm. John Poindexter's controversial Total Information Awareness program was an early effort to mine large volumes of data for hidden connections. But even before 9/11, an Army project called Able Danger sought to map Al Qaeda by "identifying linkages and patterns in large volumes of data," and may have succeeded in identifying Atta as a suspect. As if to underline the project's social-network principles, Able Danger analysts called it "the Kevin Bacon game."

Of course, the author goes on to dismiss Able Danger's importance without even looking at the program in any depth, but I guess at least they mentioned it:

Able Danger analysts produced link charts identifying suspected Qaeda figures, but some charts were 20 feet long and covered in small print. If Atta's name was on one of those network maps, it could just as easily illustrate their ineffectiveness as it could their value, because nobody pursued him at the time.

One way to make sense of these volumes of information is to look for network hubs. When Barabasi mapped the Internet, he found that sites like Google and Yahoo operate as hubs — much like an airline hub at Newark or O'Hare — maintaining exponentially more links than the average. The question is how to identify the hubs in an endless flow of records and intercepted communications. Scientists are using algorithms that can determine the "role structure" within a network: what are the logistical and hierarchical relationships, who are the hubs? 

Identifying these hubs is exactly what Able Danger did. They identified five hubs, or cells. One in Brooklyn, one in Hamburg, one in Malaysia, one in Yemen, and one in either Kenya or Mauritania depending who you ask. In addition to using computer models, they also used experienced analysts to make sense of the data and weed out the irrelevant links. In other words, the problems the author is trying to solve, are the ones Able Danger was able to work around. The chart Atta was on listed forty to eighty terrorist organized into five cells. You can't get much more specific than that, even if people want to keep dismissing it as insignificant.

Here is his decription of Zelikow's testimony:

When Phil Zelikow came in, and he wouldn’t testify in open session – even though he gave us no classified information in closed session – I asked him, “Did you interview the Able Danger principals?” And he said, “No, Congressman.”

I said, “Why would you not do that? These were CIA-trained case officers and career military professionals. Why wouldn’t you want to get the facts?”

He replied, “Because we think we’ve gotten all the information we need.”

I asked, “And why would you not include that in the 9/11 Report?” He answered, “Because we thought it was historically irrelevant.”
Is the CIA hiding something about 9/11?

I know who the intelligence officials were at the U.S. embassy at the time of Murad's arrest and interrogation. These are the same officials who discounted the threat information I received about Rana. Do these people have something to hide? You bet they do!

There is a lot of information in there, so you need to read the whole thing. He also has more details about Dieter Snell and the 9/11 Commission:

Another prominent figure suspected of quashing the truth is Dietrich L. Snell, the Senior Counsel and Team Leader of the Official 9-11 Commission. Peter Lance writes extensively in his books Cover Up and 1000 Years for Revenge about Snell's shenanigans in cherry-picking evidence and excluding credible witness testimony, including information collected by the Defense Department's Able Danger Unit concerning pre-9/11 sightings of Mohammed Atta, one of the nineteen suspected hijackers. These allegations are now resurfacing in the news. The Associated Press (AP) reported on February 15, 2005 that U.S. Representative Curt Weldon, the vice Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee advised the public that the Able Danger Unit had identified Atta more than a dozen times before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Weldon also reportedly said the secret team found "a problem" in Yemen two weeks before the deadly Al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000, of which the ship commander was not told. Former (unidentified) members of the 9/11 Commission reportedly dismissed Weldon's findings.

My experience in the Philippines also appears to overlap Snell's involvement in the Murad case that Snell prosecuted. The Cooperative Research 9-11 Timeline ( contains a very peculiar account entitled: Early 1998:Prosecutors Turn Down Deal That Could Reveal Bojinka Third Plot.

The entry said: "Abdul Hakim Murad, a conspirator in the 1995 Bojinka plot with Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Shaik Mohammed, and others, was convicted in 1996 of his role in the Bojinka plot. He is about to be sentenced for that crime. He offers to cooperate with federal prosecutors in return for a reduction in his sentence, but prosecutors turn down his offer. Dietrich Snell, the prosecutor who convicted Murad, says after 9-11 that he doesn't remember any such offer. But court papers and others familiar with the case later confirmed that Murad does offer to cooperate at this time. Snell claimed he only remembers hearing that Murad had described an intention to hijack a plan and fly it into the CIA headquarters. However, in 1995 Murad had confessed to Philippine investigators that this would have been only one part of a larger plot to crash a number of airplanes into prominent U.S. buildings, including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a plot that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed later adjusts and turns in the 9-11 plot. While Philippine investigators claim this information was passed on to U.S. intelligence, it's not clear just which U.S. officials may have learned this information and what they did with it, if anything. [New York Daily News, 9/25/01] Murad is sentenced in May 1998 and given life in prison plus 60 years. [Albany Times Union, 9/22/02] After 9-11, Snell goes on to become Senior Counsel and a team leader for the 9-11 Commission. Author Peter Lance later calls Snell "one of the fixers, hired early on to sanitize the Commission's final report." Lance says Snell ignored evidence presented to the Commission that shows direct ties between the Bojinka plot and 9-11, and in so doing covers up Snell's own role in the failure to make use of evidence learned from Murad and other Bojinka plotters. [FrontPage Magazine, 1/27/05].
Able Danger's Two Data Purges
Just to clarify, Keith Phucus at the Norristown Times Herald has written about 15 stories on Able Danger-here is his latest piece. He reports that there have been two Able Danger data purges:
Actually, data was purged in the spring of 2000 at the Land Information Warfare Activity, in Ft. Belvoir, Va., and then in 2004 at Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's Defense Intelligence Agency office at another Virginia location.

Follow the shredders
In some scandals, the key is to follow the money. In others, especially where criminal negligence is concerned, the rule should be to follow the coverup. AJ Strata points out similarities shared by Able Danger and another recent scandal. I'm hoping this is the type of thing Arlen Specter will look into when he holds hearings on Able Danger in the next few months. How can these people get away with destroying information to save themselves from blame, and not even get fired, much less charged with obstruction of justice or even destruction of government property?

My problem with Able Danger is it appears a high level, poitical appointee was able to use his power to destroy information that was personally uncomfortable, but critical to national security and which could have detected and avoided 9-11. 3,000 people died on 9-11, and it is plausible to assume if the partisan purge of Able Danger’s analysis in early 2000, when Atta and his team were moving out and coming here, had not happened they might be alive today.

So when I see similar acts of coverup I am keenly aware we cannot afford to look the other way when people in power destroy information ‘we the people’ generated through the Federal government. Senators and Congressman and other pols should not be allowed to hide our information - we paid for it!

So how is it we let this happen?

...These CYA actions should be illegal - because they only serve to hide criminal acts (why else hide the information). And sometimes those criminal acts include criminal negligence that can lead to massive US death tolls. Hat Tip Jack Kelley.
MONDAY, MARCH 06, 2006
From the Norristown Times Herald

In 2000 and 2004, the Pentagon ordered all "Able Danger" data purged from computer databases. In a Sept. 21, 2005, hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, attorney Mark Zaid said the Pentagon "too zealously applied" enforcement of legal rules governing intelligence.

In prior interviews with The Times Herald, Shaffer said information obtained from the Internet is public information, and therefore, should not be subject to government restrictions.

"I fundamentally disagree with the (Pentagon) policy," he said. "If it's on the Internet, there should be no expectation of privacy."

During the clamp-down on "Able Danger" in 2000, Shaffer vigorously protested the data retention restrictions with Pentagon attorneys.

"I didn't agree with them then, and I don't agree with them now," he said....

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and House International Relations Committee are expected to hold future hearings on "Able Danger," according to the legal complaint. 
Will Moussaoui call Able Danger witnesses?

A man accused of conspiring with the September 11, 2001 hijackers, Zacarias Moussaoui, will be able to present evidence about the Pentagon's "Able Danger" despite objections from prosecutors, a federal judge ruled yesterday. "What knowledge the government possessed before September 11 regarding members of Al Qaeda, and specifically links between Al Qaeda and the eventual hijackers, is a key issue in dispute in this death penalty trial," Judge Leonie Brinkema wrote. She said Moussaoui may call three witnesses about the Defense Department data mining program, which allegedly uncovered links between conspirators in the September 11, 2001 attacks months before those attacks took place. Judge Brinkema denied a defense request to subpoena a lawmaker who has publicized the "Able Danger" project, Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican of Pennsylvania. Moussaoui pleaded guilty in the case last year. A jury in Alexandria, Va., is scheduled to begin hearing evidence Monday on whether he should be sentenced to death.

Interestingly, Moussaoui himself could care less about the proceedings. He curses his lawyers at every opportunity. Will they call Able Danger team members, though? Weldon was protected by the "speech and debate" clause for Representatives. Of course, the fact that Able Danger itself never located any of the hijackers as present in the US contradicts the claim that they knew more than Moussaoui did. If anything, their testimony would probably hurt his chances, not help them. It shows that if Moussaoui had talked in August the Able Danger data might have been acted on.
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.DC Bar #440532 Krieger & Zaid, PLLC1920 N St., N.W.Suite 300Washington, D.C. 20006
Mystery Woman Identified

Sources close to the ongoing Department of Defense investigation into the controversial Able Danger data mining intelligence program, which purportedly identified Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers a year before the worst terror attacks in US history, say the mystery person who actually obtained a much-disputed photograph of Atta for the Able Danger team has now been identified.

Ever since the Pentagon-ordered destruction in 2000 of 2.5 terabytes of data unearthed by Able Danger – allegedly including a chart featuring Atta’s photograph that revealed terrorist links and patterns when clicked on – skeptics have long raised doubt about the very existence of the chart and the photograph in question.

It has now been confirmed that a female contract employee of defense contractor Orion Scientific, which provided personnel and proprietary software to the original Able Danger operation, has been identified as a result of investigation by the Pentagon’s own Inspector General.

Identification of the mystery woman lends more credence to claims by Able Danger members, such as team leader Captain Mark Phillpott, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer, and Orion analyst J.D. Smith, among others, that the Able Danger program did in fact identify four 9/11 hijackers well before the attacks.
posted by Supporter @ 2:40 PM  |
More Audio of Able Danger Conference Call with Rep. Curt Weldon
The first 20 minutes or so of the Able Danger conference call was previously posted here. The next three audio clips are herehere and here.

Attending this conference call with Congressman Weldon were: AJ Strata from The Strata-Sphere, Dana from Common Sense Political Thought, Curt from Flopping Aces, Mike of Able Danger BlogQT MonsterRory O’Connor, Pierre from Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill, Bluto from Jawa Report and The Dread Pundit Bluto.

posted by vadkins @ 2:18 AM

Friday, May 12, 2017

Jacob Carter Interviews Judge John R. Tunheim

Judge John R. Tunheim

For his book Before History Dies - Jacob Carter interviewed a number of important JFK assassination researchers and writers, including Judge John R. Tunheim, the chairman of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB). 

Judge John R. Tunheim is a United States District Court Judge. In 1994, after the release of Oliver Stone’s hit movie JFK, the public wanted our government to immediately release all remaining reports relating to the assassination. This demand for transparency helped birth the Assassination Records Review Board, which was created for the collection of all records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy.

Judge Tunheim was the chairman of this board. He was personally involved in the release of around five million pages of documents, and has seen the inner workings of what the government knew about JFK’s murder. I loved interviewing Judge Tunheim because he brings a legal viewpoint to this case. He likes to shape his views on this case through the evidence that can stick in court, and this provides the reader with a good foundation to spring from.

I chose to place this interview in the Lone Assassin section because I would not call Mr. Tunheim a conspiracy theorist. However, he does admit that there are gaping holes in previous investigations of the president’s murder, and he calls for our government to be more transparent about what they have hidden away. Let’s take an inside look at what a judge’s verdict would look like in this case.

JC: Could you please explain how you were involved with the Assassination Records Review Board?

Certainly. I was nominated by President Clinton to serve on the Board, which was a five member decision-making board. We were confirmed by the Senate and took office in the spring of 1994 and we wrapped up our work at the end of September, 1998. We oversaw the review of records that agencies still wanted classified. We made decisions as to what should remain classified and what should be released. We gathered as many records as we could get access to that might even be remotely related to the Kennedy assassination.

Do you feel that it was an overall success?

I think it was a great success, due in part to the manner in which the statute was written. It was written with an eye to open as many records as possible. It was also due in part to the time in which we were able to work. The Cold War was over, so there was less concern about protecting old information, and it was before 9/11, so that the concern for protecting information to fight terrorism hadn’t yet become a frontal assault on everyone like it did in 2001.

I felt it was a good time to release records. The way the statue was written was helpful because we were really the only outside group ever given authority to declassify records. That typically is reserved for the agency itself under presidential policies. Another factor in our success was very strong support from President Clinton. He had the ability to reverse any of our decisions to release information. He chose never to reverse any of our decisions. In fact, he affirmed our decision-making throughout the process.

And I think we had a fairly strong staff, and a good board that focused really on getting as much open as we possibly could. So, all those factors are why I think the work was relatively successful. I think somewhere between five and six million pages are now available to anyone at the National Archives.

Why do you think people have such a hard time either believing in a conspiracy or believing that Oswald did it alone?

It’s a really good question. I think there are a number of different answers. One is the fact that this was in 1963. Investigations, at least initially, were not very professionally done. You know, we would almost laugh today at the thought that someone accused of killing the president would be paraded out in front of the press for short news conferences, or that the accused person would sit in a jail cell that was readily accessible by reporters wandering around the police station.

This was a different time in America, and I think that for starters we don’t trust the investigations of that era, and secondly, frankly speaking, the investigations of that era weren’t as thorough as they should have been in light of the gravity of the crime that had been charged. I think the fact that the Dallas police couldn’t keep Oswald alive for more than 44 hours after the assassination only supports this idea of conspiracy.

As we look back at those black and white footages from the time, we think they just weren’t very good back then. Even 20, 25 years later, investigatory standards had improved so much that when we looked backed we thought the local investigation must have been real shoddy. So, that’s one reason. The second reason is people are prone to believe a plausible conspiracy theory. They’re not going to believe wacky conspiracy theories that don’t make any sense. No one is going to believe that the aliens came down to kill Kennedy. But, if there’s a plausible theory, and plausibility goes along with the poor investigation at the time, people are willing to believe it.

President Kennedy was the most powerful person in the world, and the thought that he could be killed by a 24 year old misfit during a parade is not very believable to people. Therefore, the idea that there was a conspiracy behind it appeals to the mind and especially to people who want to learn more about the assassination. They want to look behind everything and see if they can see more.

Thirdly, I think there’s another reason which probably lends more support to the idea of a conspiracy of some sort, and that is the fact Oswald had a fairly murky life in the several years before the assassination. He was in New Orleans and was associating with some unsavory characters there. He was involved in a pro-Castro effort at a time when our government was trying to kill Castro. He made a strange trip to Mexico City, where he went to the Soviet embassy and also the Cuban embassy. He had associations with people there. I think that there are tentacles there that lead people to believe that Oswald had connections with people who might have wanted Kennedy killed.

That being said, there’s no hard evidence for that at all; all we have is the murky lifestyle of a misfit who wanted the world to think he was an important person. And so, I think those connections lead people to think he must have had some kind of tie in with organized crime via Jack Ruby, or maybe there’s something to this Cuba connection, or maybe there’s a connection with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. So, there are a lot of these tentacles going out from Oswald, and his life that caused people to believe that he must have been involved in a conspiracy.

I’ve said, you know, I’m a judge. I look at hard evidence. I look at what’s provable in court, and the only evidence that’s provable in court is that Oswald fired the rifle and killed him that day and that he had no involvement with anyone else That doesn’t mean it’s entirely true, but it does mean that is what is provable in court today, and that’s why I say that about the evidence…because there isn’t any direct evidence, at least that is admissible in a court of law, that would suggest any involvement with anybody else.

I have heard it speculated that if a group like the Mafia or the CIA wanted to commit a murder and applied a conspiracy to do it, that it’s next to impossible to prove that conspiracy in court. Could you shed some light on that because of your legal expertise?

Well, I think contrary to what most people believe, it is not all that difficult to prove that someone engaged in a conspiracy. The legal standards in federal court, and in most states make it relatively easy to prove a conspiracy. You have to prove that the person that you’re accusing of conspiracy joined in on an agreement, even if it wasn’t really clear to everybody and even if it wasn’t written down. There must be a meeting of the minds to do something and if you have evidence of that a conspiracy can be proven.

A conspiracy does not even need to be successful in order to be proven. For example, had Oswald lived and testified that he talked about assassinating the president with Jack Ruby ahead of time, and Jack Ruby seemed to agree that this was a good idea, then you’ve got a conspiracy. You could charge Ruby with murder of President Kennedy, even though obviously he was not there in Dealey Plaza that day. So, it’s not too difficult to prove conspiracy. You have to prove a meeting of the minds, but it can be very informal. It can be merely through reactions of people or the discussions that they might have had.

So, it can be proven in court?

It can. If someone had actually come up with evidence of Oswald sitting down with one of the mob guys, one of Trafficante’s guys or Rosselli’s guys or something like that, and the subject of the assassination was discussed in advance, you at least would have the basis for a conspiracy charge, and maybe enough for a conviction depending on how persuasive the evidence was. You might even be able to connect the conspiracy to the mob leader if there’s testimony that that person was aware of the conversation.

So, it’s relatively easy to prove, but in this case you have no such evidence so we cannot even begin to try and prove it.

In light of that, is someone logical for believing in a conspiracy or for saying Oswald did it alone? Does it work both ways?

I think I probably fall somewhere in the middle, although obviously I believe, at least what the evidence shows right now, that Oswald did it alone. But, I never ruled out the possibility or the idea of a conspiracy. I just haven’t seen sufficient evidence to prove that conspiracy yet. And, I say yet because there’s still research being done that’s solid, good research.

There’s also sloppy research being done of course, that happens all the time, but there’s good research being done too. The good research is trying to explore Oswald’s connections to see if there were any that can be linked to the assassination.

Now, is it likely that 51 years after the fact we’re going to uncover something major? 

Probably not. But, there are little pieces here and there that fill out the historical record. I would never discourage people from looking. My answer is it’s always possible to uncover a fact which in light of later review proves something that you couldn’t prove at the time, so I’ve never been discouraging to anyone who thinks there’s a conspiracy and is hunting for it.

Having said that, I haven’t seen the evidence yet that would prove that anyone but Oswald was directly involved.

On that note, the way the CIA has lied in this case and even obstructed justice in some investigations, can you see how people would think the CIA is suspicious, if not complicit in the assassination? Especially in light of the fact that they still have files related to Oswald in 2015?

I agree that the CIA’s actions in refusing to release more records so many years after the fact is unfortunate. I mean, it violates not only the spirit of the law, but also the letter of this law, which is still in force. It requires agencies to declassify and release this information, and if we were still around they wouldn’t be able to do that because we were able to exercise the power granted under the law to release a lot of material that the agency didn’t want released.

I mean, I understand their thinking. They release something voluntarily and in their view that’s precedent for some other issue down the line, so they’re not going to release anything of significance. They do voluntarily through their historical review process routinely review old records from time to time to see what can be released.

Surely at the time the CIA was very much powerful, but also, as the Church Committee found, a somewhat rogue organization that acted above the law. The CIA didn’t share anything with the Warren Commission. The Warren Commission was apparently not fully aware of Operation Mongoose, which was our effort to kill Castro, and destabilize Cuba, so I think it’s understandable why people would be suspicious of the CIA.

But, you’ve got to look at the way the CIA operated at the time. They were rivals with the FBI in many respects. They just didn’t feel that they had to follow restrictions. Today’s CIA is much more subject to governmental control, of course, but they still do what they can to be secretive. One of these ways is to not release information that should have been released a long time ago. Even information about which they misled us back at the time when we should have known and we would have released it had we known the true story.

Why do you think they won’t release those remaining files? What could possibly be the excuse for withholding those files now?

Well, there are two answers to those questions. The first one is embarrassment. They would be acknowledging that they flat out lied to the House Select Committee on Assassinations about George Joannides’ role within the agency in the 1960s. And the second reason is about this precedent concern. If they release these files without being compelled to through years of litigation, then their view is that they will have 200 researchers at their door step saying, ‘we want this information; release them just like this those files were just released,’ and that would establish a precedent.
I think all situations can be distinguished. I don’t think they would have the flood gates open like they think they would. But, I think it’s shameful that they’re not releasing it, and I can’t believe that something so directly related to the assassination should still be protected today.

Is this type of behavior by the CIA not unconstitutional, and almost totalitarian state like?

They weren’t exempt from the President John F. Kennedy Records Collection Act of 1992 which is what governed our work and which still remains on the books and requires agencies to identify assassination records and release them. The difference now is you don’t have an aggressive board to force them to do it. We were there to force them to do it. The National Archives could try to exercise that authority and has chosen not to, so we don’t have an agency pushing the CIA to release information and apparently the White House has decided this is beneath them and they’re not going to push the CIA to do this either.

So, they’re not above the law. There’s no real enforcing mechanisms, so those who have been trying to sue for information are forced to use the Freedom of Information Act which is a traditional way to try and get government records. Under that law, it is difficult to get classified records from a federal agency. You know, it’s not hard to get records from, for example, the Agriculture Department, but when you’re going after intelligence records it’s a lot harder to use the Freedom of Information Act to get to them. If you have a judge who is going to look at these issues carefully, you should be fine, but the CIA can be persuasive with its arguments concerning national security, especially in an age of terrorism.

The agency is not above the law; they have to follow the requirements for assassination records, but there’s no one to force them to do it, and the Freedom of Information Act has been relatively ineffective.

What do you think of the work the Warren Commission did?

The Warren Commission did an exhaustive investigation. They had a good legal team and their investigators did a decent job. The FBI did some of the investigations for them, and history’s judgment is that FBI investigators must have been tainted somewhat by Hoover’s announcement the day after the assassination that Oswald had done it himself. Hoover was still running the FBI at that time with an iron hand of course.

The Warren Commission investigators did not have access to CIA intelligence information; that’s fairly well proven, despite the fact that the former CIA Chief was a member of the Commission, Allen Dulles. Dulles apparently didn’t reveal much that he knew about the CIA to the rest of the Commission. And Chief Justice Warren did not feel it was appropriate for anyone else to look at autopsy photos and X rays because they were relatively gruesome. So, those factors may have suggested an investigation that was not entirely complete.

You also have the Commission’s single bullet theory, which is troubling to a lot of people, but certainly explained the evidence of what they found on the sixth floor and what they found from the timing of the shots and everything else from the Zapruder film.

I think, given the resources and information they had available to them at the time, it was a good investigation. It wasn’t as complete as it should have been. And one thing we have to keep in mind about the Warren Commission is, it wasn’t a special prosecutor, it wasn’t a Watergate grand jury, it wasn’t any of those things. It was a group of politicians chosen to oversee this investigation. And the reason why you have groups of politicians overseeing an investigation is to keep it under control.
I suspect part of the thinking was that if the evidence pointed to a foreign power, President Johnson wouldn’t want the American people to know that because it would require retaliation and no one wanted that provocation at the height of the Cold War. So, by putting politicians in charge of this was a way to control it if it did come to the point being needed to be controlled. I don’t think there was any need of control at the end.

I don’t think anyone told the Warren Commission what to do. In theory it was a group that could have kept secrets that needed to be kept. So, overall they certainly don’t get an A plus for their overall effort, but it was relatively exhaustive; maybe a B, I don’t know. It’s hard to say. 26 volumes and a lot of detail are fairly impressive when you look at the body of work that they created. I think the chief complaint about the Warren Commission over the years was that they were a group of politicians and they reached a result that a lot of people fundamentally disagreed with, and because they disagreed with their result that must mean they didn’t do a good job, and I don’t think that’s a correlation you could make.

One of the most disturbing things about my generation and the way the law of the land is unfolding is that emotion seems to trump the law. I have run into this type of thinking a lot of the time while investigating this case. If you say Oswald has evidence against him, people will turn around and say that that evidence was planted. So, as someone who deals with evidence all the time, what would happen to these types of theories once they were in court?

The theories of someone putting a palm print on the gun and that sort of thing?

Yes, that Oswald was set up and that sort of thing.

Unless you had someone who directly testified that they were involved with doing that, there’s not enough of an evidentiary basis or foundation to those theories to allow them to be admissible in court. I mean they’re admissible in books written about the assassination, everything is, and it’s an interesting theory and some people believe in it, but it’s surely not admissible in court at this point, unless you find someone who was a part of the group and testified that they did this, and this is who we did it with, and this is where we did it and who had this role. No one has been able to find anyone like that, so although such evidence is not admissible in a legal proceeding, it is surely not inadmissible in the court of public opinion.

What about circumstantial evidence? Is there anything in this case that is circumstantial that would sway a jury towards conspiracy?

I hate to say never, because you never know. Juries can sometimes be swayed by outstanding lawyers and certain aspects of the evidence that’s so persuasive to them that it overwhelms other evidence. I just don’t see any evidence of a conspiracy that would be persuasive with a jury today.

Not to say that it doesn’t exist out there, and that’s why I always encourage people who are interested in the subject to look and to read and to think and to use their good sense to evaluate. And if you have the time and money to do investigations, then do it, because that’s how we ultimately get to the bottom of the great questions of history. But, right now I don’t see it.

I mean, civil court is different than criminal court. In criminal court you have to prove a defendant to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high standard. In civil court you just have to prove a preponderance of evidence, which means it’s more likely true than not. So, you’re getting a little closer. If the evidence sways a jury 51 percent to 49 percent you’ve proven your case in civil court, so it’s not out of the question, but from all of the stuff that I’ve seen it’s hard to find evidence that’s going to be persuasive to a randomly selected jury.

Do you think the American public will ever come to a conclusion on this case?

I think that the controversy will continue on probably forever in the annals of history. I don’t think that you’re going to firmly convince a majority of the American people that Oswald did it by himself. There’s too much controversy about it. There are too many parts of the initial investigation that had gaps in it that can be filled with very plausible and interesting arguments that people can believe.

But maybe the controversy will diminish more at some point in time. You know, you still have people who are out there trying to prove that it wasn’t John Wilkes Booth who killed Lincoln. They have other theories. So, you’re going to find people who have a contrary view and this is especially true when they have been given their answers from the government, and that’s their right as citizens.

Generally speaking, I applaud them. Go do it yourself. Figure out what you want to believe. But, there’s so much here, so many books written that are contrary to the official conclusion, that I don’t think that this controversy will diminish much in the next 100-150 years.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

I think the most interesting part of research is to study Oswald. I think there are things we don’t know about him. Assess him. Could he have pulled this off? Could he have met with people that made this suggestion to him? Did he come at this idea by chance because the parade route was going by the building where he worked and he was anxious to be a famous person in history? I mean, who knows? That’s a place to look.

I would like to see more research done in the future on the Soviet Union’s reaction to the assassination. Not that I think the Soviets had any role, but Oswald lived there for two and a half years before he came back in 1962, so who was he in touch with over there? What formulated his opinions over there? The KGB did an extensive investigation into the assassination. What did they find out? What’s in their files? We haven’t had much access into the KGB files or the Oswald surveillance files which are immense. Cuban intelligence. What did they know? Oswald supposedly had connections with Cuban intelligence officials when they were training in Minsk while he lived there. 

What about Mexico City? 

Mexico City has been looked at in some detail, but there is probably more to find there.

These are the kinds of in-depth research that I think have the possibility of shining a greater light on what happened, rather than continuing to debate over the single bullet or the sound wave analysis from the police motorcade tapes. Those areas have been tread over so many times, I’m not really sure we’re going to gain any more information at this point in time. Let’s look at Oswald. Let’s look at his life and see what more we can find out.

So, start with Oswald and work your way out from him?

That’s most interesting to me because you have all this evidence that he fired the shots on November 22, 1963, but the issue of why he would do something like this, what motivated him or who he was connected to, these are the issues that I find to be interesting and compelling, and still present open questions.

Excerpted from the book Before History Dies - Interviews with JFK Assassination Writers 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Secret Service Reports

Thanks to Vince for this One 

Secret Service destroys JFK assassination related documents: what was destroyed and what Gerald Blaine "donated"

Gerald Blaine turned over to the National Archives documents ALREADY MADE AVAILABLE- the Final Survey Report for the Tampa, FL trip of 11/18/63. Blaine mistakenly thought THESE were the documents "conspiracy theorists" thought were usual, he is wrong.
THESE were the ONLY records released by the Secret Service, all in the late 1990's. I have them all, as any citizen with the money can order copies via the collection at the National Archives:

The November 1963 Secret Service shift reports;
RIF #154-10002-10417:
Final Survey Report Philadelphia, PA trip 10/30/63;
RIF#154-10002-10418 :
Final Survey Report Elkton, MD trip 11/14/63;
RIF#154-10002-10419 :
Final Survey Report SECOND New York City trip 11/14-11/15/63;
Final Survey Report Palm Beach, FL trip 11/18/63;
Final Survey Report Cape Canaveral, FL 11/18/63;
Final Survey Report Tampa, FL 11/18/63;
Final Survey Report Miami, FL 11/18/63;

Final Survey report San Antonio, TX, 11/21/63;
Here is what was destroyed, Gerald:
A Summary of the Records Destroyed by the Secret Service in January of 1995.
[special thanks to Bill Kelly and the ARRB's Doug Horne]
The Protective Survey Reports destroyed by the Secret Service in January 1995 were part of a group of records transferred by the Secret Service to the General Services Administration’s Washington  National Records  Center in Suitland,  Maryland on August 7, 1974 under accession number 87-75-4. The instructions on the SF-135 (“Records Transmittal and Receipt” form) were: “Retain permanently for eventual transfer to the National Archives or a Presidential Library.” There were six boxes transferred under the accession number, and the two that were destroyed in January of 1995 contained the following files: 

Box 1 Protection of the President (John F. Kennedy) 

-         Andrews Air Force Base 1961 (Arrivals and Departures) 
-         Andrews Air Force Base 1962 (Arrivals and Departures) 
-         Andrews Air Force Base 1963 (Arrivals and Departures) 
-         Arlington National  Cemetery 
-         Camp David 
-         The Capitol 
-         Churches 
-         D.C. National Guard Armory 
-         D.C. Stadium 
-         Departures from South Grounds 
-         Dulles International  Airport 
-         Embassies 
-         Executive Office  Building 
-         Golf Clubs 
-         Griffith Stadium 
-         Homes of Friends 
-         International Inn 
-         Mayflower Hotel (three folders, for 1961-63) 
-         National Press Club 
-         Other Places Folders (#s 1-4, from January 1961-December of 1962) 

Box 6 Protective Survey Reports for the following trips: 

-         Duluth, Minnesota (9-24-63) 
-         Ashland, Wisconsin (9-24-63) 
-         Billings, Montana (9-25-63) 
-         Grand Teton National Park,  Wyoming (9-25-63) 
-         Cheyenne, Wyoming (9-25-63) 
-         Grand Forks, North  Dakota (9-25-63) 
-         Laramie, Wyoming (9-25-63) 
-         Salt Lake City, Utah (9-26-63) 
-         Great Falls, Montana (9-26-63) 
-         Hanford, Washington (9-26-63) 
-         Tongue Point, Oregon (9-27-63) 
-         Redding, California (9-27-63) 
-         Tacoma, Washington (9-27-63) 
-         Palm Springs, California (9-28-63) 
-         Las Vegas, Nevada (9-28-63) 
-         Heber Springs, Arkansas (10-3-63) 
-         Little Rock, Arkansas (10-3-63) 
-         University of  Maine (10-19-63) 
-         Boston, Massachusetts (10-26-63) 
-         Amherst, Massachusetts (10-26-63) 
-         Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (10-30-63) 
-         Chicago, Illinois (11-2-63): Three Folders [TRIP CANCELLED] 
-         New York City (11-8-63) 

In addition, one folder of vital records was missing from Box 2 in this accession, titled: “Other Places Folder #6” (for the period July-November 1963) 


Clearly, withholding these two boxes of materials from any investigator would have kept that investigator from learning about normal protective procedures an concerns related to everyday activities throughout the Kennedy Presidency, and would furthermore have denied the investigator comparative knowledge regarding how JFK was protected in numerous venues just prior to the trip to Texas. Perhaps the reader can better understand now why Jeremy Gunn and David Marwell were so upset with the Secret Service. The records were destroyed in the fourth month following the establishment of the ARRB, and furthermore had originally been tagged:

 “Retain permanently for eventual transfer to the National Archives or a Presidential Library.” Their destruction occurred long after the Secret Service was initially briefed on the requirements of the JFK Records Act in December of 1992 by the NARA staff, and required willful action by officials within that agency; it was hardly an accident. The Secret Service clearly didn’t want the ARRB poking into its past procedures and practices; the agency had been the recipient of severe criticism in the HSCA’s 1979 Report, and apparently did not wish to repeat that experience, or to have its sealed records released to the Archives for placement in the JFK Records Collection, for all JFK researchers to peruse in the future. 
Chronology of Letters Exchanged Between the ARRB and the U.S. Secret Service Over the Destruction of Protective Survey Reports 

On July 25, 1995 Review Board Chairman John R. Tunheim sent a powerfully worded letter to the Director of the Secret Service registering the Review Board’s displeasure about its recent discovery that the two boxes in question had been destroyed over a half a year previously. A letter from Board Chair Jack Tunheim (rather than David Marwell or Jeremy Gunn) addressed directly to the Head of the Secret Service (instead of to the administrative officials with whom the ARRB staff had been dealing) was a powerful signal that the Review Board was immensely displeased and took the matter very seriously. Some key passages in Jack Tunheim’s letter are quoted below:

            In January of this year, Dr. Jeremy Gunnn of the Review Board staff requested of John Machado and Ann Parker of the Secret Service that the six boxes in the accession be made available for his review to evaluate the importance of the material for the JFK Collection in the Archives. Although four of the boxes were made available, we were not provided with boxes (1) and (6), the two most important boxes. On February 7, 1995 – and several times thereafter – Mr. Machado and Ms. Parker informed us that the Federal Records  Center “could not locate” the two missing boxes….Although we repeatedly were told that special requests for these records had been made at the Federal Records  Center, Ms. Ann Parker of the Secret Service finally informed Dr. Joan Zimmeman of the Review Board staff, on July 19, 1995 – six months after we had first requested the boxes – that the records had in fact been destroyed in January of this year at approximately the same time that we had requested them. 

Tunheim’s letter requested full accounting of what had happened to the two boxes; a listing of all other Secret Service records pertaining to President Kennedy that had ever been destroyed; and instructed the Secret Service not to destroy any records of any kind relating to President Kennedy or his assassination without first allowing the Review Board and its staff to review them for relevance. For added emphasis a copy of the letter was sent to the Chief Counsel of the U.S. Secret Service, as well as to John Machado, the apparent culprit who presumably gave the orders to destroy the records. 

The Secret Service made an immediate attempt to de-escalate the matter by assigning an official named W. Ralph Basham, its Administrative Director of Administration, to reply. Basham’s reply, dated July 31, 1995, was a five-and-one-half page single spaced attempt at obfuscation, the administrative equivalent of a Senate filibuster, to use a legislative analogy. In addition to saying, in some many words, ‘Hey, we didn’t do anything wrong, we were following routine destruction procedures established years ago,’ the Secret Service attempted to wiggle out of its predicament by simultaneously suggesting that perhaps the destruction was really the Review Board’s fault because it was not in receipt of the ARRB’s expanded definition of what constituted an “assassination record” until February 1995, after the records were destroyed. Perhaps most disturbing of all was the narrow definition that the Secret Service had used commencing in December 1992 (following its NARA beefing on the JFK Records Act) to define what constituted an assassination record: namely, White House detail shift reports only for the period November 18, 1963 to November 24, 1963. Mr. Basham also tried to downplay the significance of the missing Chicago protective survey reports for the cancelled November 2, 1963 trip (during which conspirators had planned to assassinate President Kennedy) by writing: 

The folder concerning the canceled trip to Chicago would only have contained a preliminary survey report, if any document at all, since final reports are not conducted when a trip is cancelled. This report, if in fact it was even in the prepared folder, would have been of limited scope. [Author’s comments: there were 3 folders on the cancelled Chicago trip, not one, and this attempt to portray the Chicago file as one folder was duplicitous; furthermore, how did Basham presume to know that any reports written about the cancellation of the Chicago trip would have been “of limited scope?” It is easy to make such  claim after evidence is destroyed, because there is no way you can be challenged.] 

The ARRB’s response to this “in your face” piece of administrative obfuscation was signed out by Executive Director David G. Marwell on August 7, 1995, and showed no mercy. Rather than simply allow the matter to “go away” or “die,” as the Secret Service had hoped, Marwell’s leter (co-drafted by him and Gunn) resurrected the seriousness of the matter in no uncertain terms. I quote below, in part: 

Although you concluded your letter by stating that you “trust this explanation will clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen,” I regret to say that not only does your letter not allay our concerns, it compounds them. 

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (JFK Act) forbids the destruction of any documents “created or made available for use by, obtained by, or [that] otherwise came into the possession of …. The Select Committee on Asssassinations…of the House of Representatives.” It is our understanding that the records in Accession 87-75-0004 that the Secret Service destroyed were examined by the House Select Committee on Assassinations and thus were “assassination records” under the JFK Act and they apparently were destroyed in violation of law. [emphasis in original, which is most unusual in official government correspondence – it is the equivalent of shouting at someone during a conversation] 

We see the destruction of these assassination records as particularly ominous in light of the fact that the Secret Service revised its destruction schedule after passage of the JFK Act and that it targeted for destruction records that, at the time the law was passed, were slated to be held “permanently.” [emphasis in the original] 

Rather than refereeing to and applying the standards of the JFK Act, your letter suggests that the responsibilities of the Secret Service extend no further than complying with standard records disposal schedules. After acknowledging that the Secret Service in fact destroyed records in 1995 from Accession 87-75-0004 (related to the protection of President Kennedy), you state that they were “processed in accordance with National Archives and Records (NARA) procedures, and in full compliance with approved records disposition schedules.” The JFK Act, it should be clear, supercedes any law or any disposition schedule related to “assassination records.” 

This was a “right back in your face” response that told masters of obfuscation at the Secret Service that the ARRB wasn’t going to be rolled, and wasn’t going to go away. Marwell’s letter then upped the ante by requesting a ton of information which any Federal agency would have had a difficult time finding the resources to accomplish. Marwell’s letter ended with these words: 

…we specifically request that you assure us that no Secret Service records related to Presidential protection between 1958 and 1969 or to the assassination of President Kennedy be destroyed until the Review Board has received prior written notice and has had an opportunity to inspect the records [emphasis in original]  

Sensing that the ARRB was flexing its muscles and was about to “go nuclear” [which was true – public hearings were being considered], Mr. Basham replied on August 15, 1995 with a calming one-page letter and requesting a meeting to discuss the “additional issues” which he said were raised by Marwell’s letter. That meeting was held the very next day (August 16, 1995) on ARRB turf, in our offices at 600 E Street, in Northwest Washington D.C. 

Following the meeting, which lasted several hours, Jeremy Gunn (our General Counsel and Head of Research and Analysis) signed out a letter on August 21, 1995 to Mr. Basham and Mr. Personnette (Deputy Chief Counsel) of the Secret Service. Gunn recognized for the record that the Secret Service now had a much better understanding of what constituted an assassination record – the ARRB set the definition for this, not the agencies holding records, who all wished to minimize their work – and noted for the record that the Secret Service had agreed that no records related to Presidential protection for years 1958-1969 would be destroyed until after the ARRB had a chance to review them to verify that no assassination records were included. Gunn also recorded the agreement reached on August 16, 1995, that Dr. Joan Zimmerman of our staff would henceforth have full access to all Secret Service records upon demand, not just partial and limied access, as previously. The ARRB threw a face-saving bone to the Secret Service in Gunn’s letter, as well: 

As acknowledged in the meeting, we fully understand and accept your interest in ensuring that no documents are released that would compromise Presidential protection. As we have mentioned before, our professional staff is in possession of current security clearances and we will take all appropriate measures to safeguard the records and ensure full compliance with the law.
On the same date, August 21, 1995, Gunn signed out a letter to the miscreant John Machado (who had ordered the two boxes destroyed), which was much less friendly in tone and which bored in on him with a number of questions about dubious statements previously made by Machado, and made additional requests for information and records 

The crisis had abated, and the Secret Service had avoided embarrassing public hearings which would have exposed their perfidy. The public was not to learn of this business until that one cryptic paragraph was published in the ARRB Final Report in late September of 1998, three years later. Unlike poor JFK, whom corrupt individuals in the Secret Service had helped set up in Dallas in 1963, the Secret Service in 1995, had ‘dodged a bullet.’ 

Professor Jim Fetzer summed up the situation nicely with his comments in the documentary “The Smoking Guns,” which aired on the History Channel in 2003:
“The Secret Service…deliberately destroyed…records that would have revealed that the motorcade in Dallas was a travesty, a violation of at least 15 different Secret Service policies for Presidential protection. This behavior on their part raises the most serious and deserving questions about their complicity in the entire affair…which of course, is the reason why the Secret Service destroyed the records of its own motorcades when they were asked for them by the Assassination Records Review Board.”
Doug Horne, the chief analyst for military records of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) wrote more extensively about the deliberate destruction of Secret Service records in his book, “Inside the ARRB” (2009, Volume V, p. 1451)


In 1995, the Review Board Staff became aware that the U.S. Secret Service had destroyed protective survey reports related to John F. Kennedy’s Presidency, and that they had done so well after the passage of the JFK Records Act, and well after having been briefed by the National Archives (NARA) on the Act’s requirements to preserve all Assassination Records from destruction until the ARRB had made a determination that any such proposed destruction was acceptable
I reported to work at the ARRB on August 7, 1995, and I still distinctly recall that this controversy was raging full force during the first two weeks I was on the job. I recall both General Counsel Jeremy Gunn and Executive Director David Marwell being particularly upset; they were seriously considering holding public hearings in which the Secret Service officials responsible for said destruction would be called to account and castigated, in an open forum, with the media present. 

The thinking at the time was that doing so would: (a) cause the Secret Service to take the Review Board and the JFK Act seriously; and (b) send a warning to other government agencies, such as the FBI and CIA, to also take the Review Board and the JFK Act seriously, lest they, too be dragged into public hearings that would cause great discomfiture and professional embarrassment. 
Eventually – and unfortunately – tempers cooled and no public hearings were held. I suspect that Board Chair Jack Tunheim played a major role in finessing the matter; presumably, the Board Members believed that since the ARRB was still in its first year of its three-year effort to locate and review assassination records, that we would get more out of the Secret Service in the future with honey, than with vinegar. Stern official letters levying charges and counter-charges were exchanged; a face-to-face meeting between high-level officials of the ARRB and Secret Service was held; tempers cooled; and no public hearings were ever held. Relations with the Secret Service remained testy throughout the remainder of the ARRB’s lifespan. It was my impression, during my ongoing discussions with my fellow analysts on the Secret Service Records team for the next three years (from September 1995 to September 1998), that the Secret Service never “loosened up” and reached a comfortable working accommodation with the ARRB like the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon (or, at least the Joint Staff Secretariat) did. The Secret Service and the ARRB remained wary adversaries for four years. 

The Review Board itself consciously soft-pedaled the dispute in its Final Report, devoting only one paragraph (and virtually no details whatsoever) to the incident, on page 149: 

Congress passed the JFK Act in 1992. One month later, the Secret Service began its compliance efforts. However, in January 1995, the Secret Service destroyed Presidential protection survey reports for some of President Kennedy’s trips in the fall of 1963. The Review Board learned of the destruction approximately one week after the Secret Service destroyed them, when the Board was drafting its request for additional information. The Board believed that the Secret Service files on the President’s travel in the weeks preceding this murder would be relevant. 

And that was it – that was the only mention of the entire imbroglio in the Final Report of the Assassinations Records Review Board. My intention here is to give the reader as much additional and relevant, information as I can at this writing, 14 years later. I was never “on the inside” of this problem, but I do have a correspondence file of letters exchanged, and will quote from them liberally to give the reader a sense of what it feels and sounds like when two bureaucracies go to war inside the Beltway. This is of more than mere academic interest, since the evidence presented in this chapter has shown that several Secret Service officials on the White House Detail were complicit in both the President’s death – due to willful actions that greatly lessened the physical security around President Kennedy during the Dallas motorcade – and in the coverup of the damage to the limousine, which if left in its original damaged condition, would have proved JFK was caught in a crossfire, and therefore killed by a conspiracy.