Home/ Resources/ Projects/ JFK Act Releases/ 2017/2018 Document Releases

2017/2018 Document Releases

View the 2017/2018 Releases Here on MFF

View 2017/2018 JFK Document Releases

NOTE: The documents still redacted or withheld after 2018 are up for re-review in 2021. See State of JFK Releases 2021 for information on this process and a deep-dive into the current state of the releases.

Essays and Interviews About the Releases

What Happened Thursday with the JFK Records? - MFF President Rex Bradford's reaction to the October 26 announcement of further postponement and review.

Open Letter to US Archivist, March 11 2018 - Signed by the board members of the Mary Ferrell Foundation.

Trump Orders Release of JFK Assassination Files - But Many Redactions Remain - WhoWhatWhy's Jimmy Falls reacts to the April 26, 2018 announcement of further postponement.

2017 & 2018 JFK Releases: Progress, Issues, Recommendations - Rex Bradford reviews the history of the several recent file releases, and discusses the errors, anomalies, and mysteries in the process.

Analyzing the New JFK Revelations: Review of New CIA and FBI Documents That Change Cold War History - Bill Simpich on the "big picture" of what's in these records and why they are important.

NARA Resources

Useful links to important pages at the National Archives:

JFK Assassination Records Processing Project at National Archives (NARA) website. Describes the history of the project and its current state.

JFK Assassination Records page at NARA website. This is the official online repository of these documents, and is the source of the files online here at MFF.

Inspector General's Special Report on Compliance. NARA's Inspector General in March 2018 reported on NARA's compliance with the JFK Records Act.

Current State of the Releases

The partial release of records on October 26, 2017 was followed by additional document releases in November and December. Then, pursuant to the 6-month review process created by President Trump, another release (the 7th in all) of about 19,000 documents occurred on April 26, 2018.

Is the JFK Records Act declassification process now complete? In a word, no:

  • In general, released documents feature fewer redactions than has been the case thus far, though many redactions remain.
  • According to the National Archives' ' 15,834 documents remain redacted. These are intended to be re-reviewed for possible full release at the future date of October 26, 2021.
  • Some documents scheduled for release could not be located by NARA. These include 9 Rockefeller Commission audio files could not be located and 79 RIF record numbers could not be resolved to actual found documents.
  • 520 documents fall under sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Records Act - these are IRS documents and documents provided under a "deed of gift" - and will not be released

For details, the National Archive's project page and MFF President Rex Bradford's discussion of the state of the releases.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation has been tracking these releases and is still investigating errors and anomalies in the online data, documents which seem to have "fallen through the cracks," and other issues. Watch this page and this website for ongoing updates.

What's in the New Documents?

Bill Simpich has a great "big picture" article on the hunt for new findings in the released records:

7/26/2018 - Analyzing the New JFK Revelations: Review of New CIA and FBI Documents That Change Cold War History.

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

7/23/2018 - Top Ten JFK Assassination Records by Bill Kelly. Kelly discusses the "Higgens Memo".

5/16/2018 - What the curious case of Richard Gibson tells us about Lee Harvey Oswald by Jefferson Morley. In the new records is CIA's file on its informant Richard Gibson, head of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

5/15/2018 - Mystery solved: Gunnar Beckman, the Mexico City covert operator by Jefferson Morley. An alert reader of JFK Facts supplies the document id'ing the officer in this important role.

5/9/2018 JFK Files Reveal US Biological Warfare Plans Against Cuba by Jimmy Falls. Project SQUARE DANCE in 1964 proposed destruction of the Cuban economy via a sugar cane parasite, spreading hoof-and-mouth disease, and more.

12/19/2017 - From the JFK files, a spymaster's dictum on national security by Jefferson Morley. A Church Committee interview of CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton has finally been made public.

11/13/2017 - The JFK Files: New Light on Oswald and Mexico City by Dick Russell. Discusses new details in the files relatd to Oswald's Mexico City caper.

11/3/2017 - Top CIA official was told Oswald contacted KGB officer in Mexico City, new JFK file shows by Jefferson Morley. The lifting of a small redaction - LCIMPROVE - adds meaning to the October 8 1963 cable reporting Oswald's contact with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.

9/12/2017 - Top 4 Revelations From the New JFK Files by Jefferson Morley. Surveys the new revelations regarding Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell, Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko, and ongoing debate on behavior of the CIA and the Warren Commission.

8/31/2017 - Missing from the new JFK files: a batch of CIA records on Lee Harvey Oswald by Jefferson Morley. Discusses researcher Malcolm Blunt's discovery that volume 5 of a 7-volume CIA Office of Security file on Lee Harvey Oswald is missing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sites Discussing the New Records

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

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

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

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

Related Information on MFF

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

JFK Database Explorer. This tool lets you explore, filter, and search the metadata of the entire JFK Collection. Note that the NARA database has not been updated since 2008, and so does not provide proper status of the new records.

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

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

The 2017/2018 Releases: By the Numbers

The 2017/2018 Releases: By the Numbers

There have been 7 releases in 2017 and 2018 pursuant to the JFK Records Act stipulation that all fully and partial withheld JFK documents be released by October 26, 2017. Due to a Presidential order blocking full release, accompanied by reviews and partial releases, the declassification process has been confusing and incomplete. See sidebar at right for details.

Jul 24, 2017press release3,811 documents (441 formerly withheld in full):

2,247 CIA files (402 formerly withheld-in-full)
3 State Dept files
1,346 FBI files
136 Church Cmte files
6 LBJ Lib files
32 Rock Comm files
2 NARA files
22 HSCA files (all 22 formerly withheld-in-full)

17 audio files were also released (all 17 formerly withheld-in-full)

Oct 26, 2017press release2,891 documents (39 formerly withheld-in-full):

3 CIA files
2,453 FBI files
47 NSC files
6 Secret Service files
60 Church Cmte files (1 formerly withheld-in-full)
5 LBJ Lib files (2 formerly withheld-in-full)
16 Rock Comm files (5 formerly withheld in full)
9 NARA/WC files (1 formerly withheld-in-full)
216 HSCA files (30 formerly withheld-in-full)
26 NARA files
1 OSD file
6 Army files
43 JCS files

Note: On Oct 26, the download page set at the National Archives showed 52 "Withheld in Full" files and 2,839 formerly redacted. The current page set appears to have recategorized 13 of the Oct 26 releases from "withheld in full" to "formerly redacted"; the table above is thus reporting the new numbers of 39 withheld and 2,852 redacted. 7 FBI, 1 LBJ Lib, and 5 Church Committee files were reclassified.

Note 2: Due to processing errors, some documents were uploaded twice, including 44 FBI files, 5 HSCA files, and 1 LBJ Library file.

Nov 3, 2017press release676 documents (93 formerly withheld-in-full):

553 CIA files (all 553 formerly withheld-in-full)
1 DIA file
18 FBI files (8 formerly withheld-in-full)
12 NSA files
1 LBJ Lib file (1 formerly withheld-in-full)
56 HSCA files (7 formerly withheld-in-full)
34 INSCOM files (14 formerly withheld-in-full)
1 OSD file

Nov 9, 2017press release13,213 documents (4 formerly withheld-in-full):

12,981 CIA files (2 formerly withheld-in-full)
232 NSA files (2 formerly withheld-in-full)

See note b below for issues and anomalies

Nov 17, 2017press release10,744 documents (144 formerly withheld-in-full):

10,744 FBI files (144 formerly withheld-in-full)

Dec 15, 2017press release4,217 documents (1,238 formerly withheld-in-full):

94 CIA files (49 formerly withheld-in-full)
4 DIA files (4 formerly withheld-in-full)
20 State Dept files (6 formerly withheld-in-full)
3,127 FBI files (1,053 formerly withheld-in-full)
213 Church Cmte files (12 formerly withheld-in-full)
39 NARA files (38 formerly withheld-in-full)
24 LBJ Lib files (11 formerly withheld-in-full)
67 Rock Comm files (13 formerly withheld-in-full)
35 NARA/WC files (5 formerly withheld-in-full)
529 HCSA files (27 formerly withheld-in-full)
3 OSD files
4 USA files
47 Army files
11 JCS files

Note: The 12/15/2017 and 04/26/2018 releases featured abundant errors and anomalies, including malformed PDF links, duplicate rows, and other issues. The "withheld in full" counts are thus probably inaccurate; they were based on records marked "withheld" as well as many records whose status field was left blank or held unexpected values.

Note 2: Due to processing errors, some documents were uploaded twice, including 15 FBI files and 1 NARA file.

Note 3: One FBI record, 124-10271-10056, had a damaged PDF file which could not be read.

April 26, 2018press release18,884 documents (279 formerly withheld-in-full):

13,600 CIA files (9 formerly withheld-in-full)
6 DIA files (1 formerly withheld-in-full)
9 State Dept files
3,658 FBI files (22 formerly withheld-in-full)
33 NSA files (4 formerly withheld-in-full)
277 Church Cmte files
271 NARA files (22 formerly withheld-in-full)
31 LBJ Lib files (1 formerly withheld-in-full)
74 Rock Comm files (3 formerly withheld-in-full)
30 DOJ files
744 HCSA files (18 formerly withheld-in-full)
39 INSCOM files (11 formerly withheld-in-full)
6 OSD files
5 USA files
61 Army files (6 formerly withheld-in-full)
34 JCS files (2 formerly withheld-in-full)
1 Misc file with no RIF number

4 audio files were also released (all 4 formerly withheld-in-full)

Note: The 12/15/2017 and 04/26/2018 releases featured abundant errors and anomalies, including malformed PDF links, duplicate rows, and other issues. The "withheld in full" counts are thus probably inaccurate; they were based on records marked "withheld" as well as many records whose status field was left blank or held unexpected values.

Note 2: Due to processing errors, some documents were uploaded twice, including 8 FBI files, 10 HSCA files, and 4 Army files.

Note 3: A few FBI records were not uploaded: 124-10179-10221 (metadata does not match supplied PDF), 124-10264-10194 (not found within "combined" PDF), 124-10273-10088 (bad NARA PDF link).

TOTAL54,436 documents (2,238 formerly withheld-in-full)

Additional Note: Many released files have record numbers which are not present in the online NARA records database. Released among these seven batches but not listed in the NARA database are 1078 files: 466 FBI, 250 NARA, 248 NSA, 59 INSCOM, 47 NSC, 6 Secret Service, 1 DIA, and one unnumbered record.

About the 2017/2018 JFK Records Act Releases

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

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

The JFK Records Act mandated that, absent a Presidential override, all such documents be released in full 25 years after the passage of the law. That date arrived on October 26, 2017, but President Trump elected to allow agencies to re-review documents for 6 months during which some declassification would occur. Six batches of documents were released since the October deadline, the most recent on April 26, 2018. Over 50,000 documents have been released, though most of them had been previously released with redactions (updated versions have also had redactions though typically fewer).

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

What was intended to be an orderly release process turned instead into a confusing set of rolling releases. Many thousands of documents remain withheld, and redactions remain in those which have been released. The MFF is tracking this process and will continue to document what is happening. The National Archives has its own processing project page which is worth reading.

See What Happened Thursday with the JFK Records? for MFF President Rex Bradford's reaction to the October 26 announcement of further postponement and review. See also 2017 & 2018 JFK Releases: Progress, Issues, Recommendations for a discussion of problems with the process and recommendations.

See also this annotated transcript of a talk by MFF's Rex Bradford at the 2016 JFK Lancer conference, discussing some of what was already known about the upcoming records from examination of the "metadata" in the National Archives's JFK Database. The video of the talk is available on YouTube. A Newsweek article based in part on this talk was written by Jeff Morley and Rex Bradford.

Help Get the Word Out

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

© Mary Ferrell Foundation. All Rights Reserved. |Press Room |MFF Policies |Contact Us |Site Map