Assassination Records Review Board
FY 1996 Report
Assassination Records Review Board
600 E Street, N.W. Second Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 724-0088 fax: (202) 724-0457
Assassination Records Review Board
The Assassination Records Review Board recommends that the JFK Act be extended for one additional
year. Although it has accomplished much in its first two years, the Review Board still has a great deal of
important work to do. The additional year will allow the Review Board to review and release the
remaining secret assassination records to the public and to complete a final report.
Accomplishments of the Review Board
Through October 1996, the Review Board acted to transfer
nearly 10,000 documents to the National Archives and Records Administration for inclusion in the JFK
Collection. At the end of 1996, that collection totaled approximately 3.1 million pages and was used
extensively by researchers from all over the United States.
Government Records related to the Assassination --By the end of this year, the Review
Board will have reviewed and processed nearly all of the assassination records that have been identified
by Federal agencies, with the important exception of the FBI and the CIA. The overwhelming majority
of previously redacted information will have been made public.
The Review Board Needs Additional Time
These records include:
- Thousands of CIA documents on Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of
President Kennedy that make up the CIA's Oswald File
- Thousands of once-secret records from the investigation of the House Select
Committee on Assassinations, including the controversial Staff Report on Oswald
and Mexico City
- Thousands of records from the FBI's core and related assassination files
Private and Local Records -- The Board has identified and secured significant assassination-
related records in the hands of private citizens and local governments, including copies of the official
records of District Attorney Jim Garrison's investigation of the assassination, the personal papers of
Warren Commission Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin, as well as long-lost films taken in Dallas on November
22, 1963 that the public had never seen and that shed new light on the events of that day.
The Review Board will not be able to complete its work within the original three-year timetable set by
Congress for the following reasons:
Unrealistic Time Limit -- The authors of the legislation believed that the task would take three
years. That estimate was based on the best available information at the time, but the legislation established
an unprecedented process. There was no way of knowing the problems of scale and complexity that the
Board has encountered, nor was there any way to factor in the comprehensive approach taken by the
Board in fulfilling its mandate.
The Job Ahead
Delay in the appointment of the Board -- The Board was not appointed until 18 months after the
legislation was signed into law. Federal agencies had to define for themselves the universe of
records that should be processed under the Act and to speculate about the kind of evidence that
would be needed to sustain the redaction of assassination-related information. Once the Board was
in place, agencies needed to revise a considerable amount of work. In fact, many agencies have
yet to complete their review and the Board is still seeking their compliance.
Protracted Start-up -- Congress imposed several restrictions on the manner in which the Board
could operate. Unlike other temporary agencies, the Board could not hire or detail experienced federal
employees, but rather had to hire new employees who had to undergo background investigations and be
cleared at the Top Secret level. Locating and renovating space that was suitable for the storage of
classified materials was required. As a result, the Board could not begin an effective review of records
until the third quarter of its first year.
An additional year will permit the Review Board to finish its task by completing the following:
Sequestered Collections -- Additional time will permit the Board to complete its review of the
huge and critically important collections of records at the CIA and FBI that were requested by the
HSCA in the course of their investigation.
The Records of Some Agencies and Congressional Committees -- Additional time will allow
the Board to finish its work with several agencies and Congressional Committees (NSA, Secret Service,
Senate Intelligence Committee).
Search for Additional Records -- Additional time will permit the Board's search for additional
records held by government agencies, private individuals, and local governments to be concluded with
greater confidence. Some of these records have been identified, but not yet acquired by the Board.
Foreign Records -- The Board has started the process of collecting and reviewing records held
by a number of foreign countries (Russia, Belarus, Mexico, England, Germany, France, Japan, Cuba).
Contact has been made with several countries. Additional time will increase the likelihood of success.
As a result of the Board's necessarily protracted start-up, it has a budget carryover of $500,000 in no-year
funds from its first year, a sum that would fund a full quarter of continued operation. The Board would
consequently require $1.6 million of additional funds to operate for one more year. In considering this
cost, it is important to assess the cost of not completing the job.
The Review Board was conceived of as a means of eliminating uncertainty and speculation about the
contents of government files relating to the assassination of President Kennedy. A premature termination
of the Review Board would surely generate intensified doubts within the general public about the
commitment of Congress to release all information that relates to the assassination of President Kennedy,
as well as renewed speculation about the conduct of our government and its institutions and personnel. If
appropriate closure is not reached now, the identical issues will have to be addressed again in the future--
at even greater cost. The recommended additional year will allow for a confident conclusion of this
Table of Contents
Accomplishments and Goals
Background of the JFK Act
Key Provisions of the JFK Act
Authority of the Assassination Records Review Board
Early Delays in the Work of the Review Board
The Review Board Members
The Staff of the Assassination Records Review Board
I. Activities of the Review Board
A. The Review of Assassination Records
II. Agency Compliance With the Requirements of the JFK Act
a. Standards for Review of Records.
B. Special Projects
b. Overview of Review Board Meetings and Public Hearings
c. Review Board Meetings
d. Public Hearings of the Review Board
a. Medical Records Inquiry
C. Review Board Outreach
b. Photographic records
c. BriLab Tapes
d. Foreign Government Records.
a. Mailing lists
D. State, Local, and Private Records
a. COPA Conference 1996
c. Professional Associations
d. Journals and Newsletters
e. Dallas Trip
a. Clay Shaw-Jim Garrison Records
b. Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans
c. Other privately held records
III. The Job Ahead
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Central Intelligence Agency
U. S. Secret Service
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Department of Justice
Immigration and Naturalization Service
Drug Enforcement Administration
U. S. Postal Service
Department of Defense
Department of State
National Archives and Records Administration
House Select Committee on Assassinations
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
A. Remaining Records to be Reviewed
List of Appendices
CIA Sequestered Collection
B. Recommendations for Legislative Action
An Approach to the Review of the CIA and FBI "Segregated"
Identification of New Records and Ensuring Compliance