Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Interview with ONI Investigator Robert Steel




Image result for Paul Bentley Dallas PD with Oswald
Cigar chomping Dallas Detective Paul Bentley takes Oswald into custody 


November 24, 1963
Detective Paul Bentley
Dallas Police Department

Dear Paul,
Perhaps you are aware that ONI has quite a file on Oswald, which no doubt has been made available on the Washington level. If not, I am certain that this information can be obtained for you through our resident special agent in charge of the Dallas office, A. C. Sullivan, who is a wonderful agent, and whom I hope you know. As a personal friend, I congratulate you, wish you continued success, and pray that your guardian angel will remain close at hand and vigilant, always. 

Robert D. Steel
Commander, USNR-R
7960 June Lake Drive,
San Diego, California 

Oral History Interview with Robert D. Steel, La Jolla, California. February 1, 2013

Interviewer: I am interviewing Commander Robert D. Steel, US Navy Reserves, Retired in La Jolla, California, as an oral history project for the Baylor University Library, JFK Section. Steel’s wife Judy is sitting in as an observer during this interview. Good morning Commander Steel.

Good morning Commander Steel.

Robert D. Steel: Good morning.

Question: What is your full name sir?

RDS: Robert David Steel.

Q: When and where were you born?

RDS: May, M-A-Y- Texas, that’s in the central part of the state….

Q: And when were you born?

RDS: May 26, 1919

Q: When did you join the Navy?

RDS: I graduated from the University in Texas, then I went to Northwestern University midshipman school in Chicago in January 1942 and graduated in May, 1942. I came out to the West Coast, I was in charge of training, Naval section from the University of Southern California.

Q: Did you serve on any ships during World War II?

RDS: I would consider the Sea Scout a ship.

Q: So you served on the Sea Scout?

RDS: I was the commanding officer.

Q: I read about the Sea Scout, that was a sonar training ship, wasn’t it?

RDS: Yes it was.

Q: Okay. Did you serve on any other ships during World War II?

RDS: Yes I did, for the last two years of the war I was on board a destroyer escort.

Q: Were you an officer on that ship?

RDS: Yes, I was number three officer, a first lieutenant in charge of everything above the waterline.

Q: What did you do after the war?

RDS: I first worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a tax collector.

Q: In San Diego?

RDS: Collecting from business men in San Diego, and following that Naval Intelligence, I came to work for them as a special agent.

Q: What year did you leave active duty and join the Naval Reserves.

RDS: I suppose that would be 1945.

Q: And what year did you join ONI?

RDS: 1948.

Q: How many years did you work for ONI?

RDS: As a special agent 22 years.

Q: Did you work for ONI in any other capacity other than special agent?

RDS: Yes, I was a commanding officer of the Reserve officers throughout the area.

Q: What years would that have been?

RDS: That was for a two year period and I had to work my way up to that position, and I retired from that around 1962.

Q: When you were working as a special agent were you technically a civilian agent?

RDS: Yes sir, but I wore two hats, being a Reserve officer I was also doing Reserve duty from time to time with various other agencies – CIA, FBI and other military services in Washington DC mainly.

Q: Did you serve as liaison with CIA and FBI so to speak?

RDS: I wouldn’t call it liaison, I was indoctrinated into their activities.

Q: Did you work for the same branch or department of ONI while you were a special agent all those years?

RDS: Would you repeat the question?

Q: I am a little bit unfamiliar with the structure of ONI. I believe there was a special branch – the Naval Investigative Service, did you work for that branch for 22 years as a special agent?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Did your work at ONI involve liaison with any other government agencies?

RDS: (Laughs) Yes.

Q: With CIA and FBI for example?

RDS: Yes.

Q: In which naval district were you stationed in late 1959 and early 1960?

RDS: Would you repeat that?

Q: In which naval district were you stationed in late 1959-60?

RDS: My headquarters were always in this naval district.

Q: That would include San Diego?

RDS: San Diego and all the area that included Arizona and New Mexico.

Q: Who was your boss 1959-1963?

RDS: Who was my boss? I had many.

Q: Did you know Fred Reeves?

RDS: (Laugh) A very good close friend.

Q: Was he the head of the San Diego ONI office?

RDS: For a brief period.

Q: Do you remember roughly when?

RDS: No I’m sorry I can’t recall. 

Q: Was he ever your boss.

RDS: Very briefly. We were mainly co-workers.

Q: When did you start living in San Diego?

RDS: Ten, 1942.

Q: Where was your office in San Diego?

RDS: Headquarters building was at Broadway Pier.

Q: Who were your closest colleagues in San Diego?

RDS: ONI or other law enforcement agencies?

Q: I was thinking ONI.

RDS: I had dozens, I mean, its best to be good to everybody.

Q: Do you know what a “119 Report” was?

RDS: Yes sir.

Q: Did you ever write any 119 Reports on anyone while you were with ONI?

RDS: Hundreds of them.

Q: Did you have anyone working under you in 1959.

RDS: Yes.

Q: Is it fair to say that you did as well in 1963?

RDS: Repeat?

Q: Did you have anyone working under you in 1963?

RDS: Its hard to say working under me, we worked as a team. There were people in certain positions who were less qualified as myself, so we worked as a team because somebody had to fill certain billets, somebody had to sit by at a desk because they were incapable of doing certain things.

Q: Let me put it this way, were you anybody’s boss in 1963?

RDS: We worked as team, they were co-workers.

Q: Okay. Fred Reeves told the Assassinations Records Review Board that a week or so after Lee Harvey Oswald defected to the USSR, Reeves had been called by two ONI officers in Washington DC and was asked to do a background investigation on Oswald at El Toro, Marine Air Station, Oswald’s last duty station before leaving the Marine Corps. Is it possible you did this investigation for Reeves?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Would you say it is possible or would you say it is probable?

RDS: Probable.

Q: Is it fair to say you were you probably sent in to do this investigation of Oswald because you were a more highly skilled experienced investigator than the ONI people stationed at El Toro who were used to doing more mundane investigation.

RDS: Yes.

Q: Do you remember doing this investigation for Reeves at El Toro?

RDS: (Yes) but not very well.

Q: Given that Oswald was stationed at El Toro and had just defected, I’d like to ask you some hypothetical questions. Would have done it by yourself or with other special agents?

RDS: (unintelligible)

Q: Okay. Would you have questioned Oswald’s former colleagues at El Toro?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Would you have had a stenographer with you?

RDS: No.

Q: Would you have introduced yourself to these marines you were questioning?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Do you remember the name Nelson Delgado at El Toro.

RDS: Not the name, could you tell me his position?

Q: He was a marine like Oswald and a friend of Oswald, not an officer, an enlisted man.

RDS: No I don’t remember.

Q: Okay. Going back to Reeves and the ARRB Final Report, Reeves said he went to El Toro Marine Air Station, copied Oswald’s enlisted personnel files, talked to Oswald’s associates and mailed this to ONI in Washington D.C.  Reeves said that ONI in Washington DC ran the post defection investigation of Oswald and the Washington officers then directed various agents in the field. Reeves said he did not interview anyone himself but that later, late 1959 or early 1960, there were approximately twelve to fifteen ONI 119 Reports that crossed his desk. Reeves said he was aware of some of the 119 Reports from Japan and Texas and that the primary concern of the reports he read on Oswald was to ascertain what damage to national security Oswald’s defection to the USSR had caused. Is it possible that you wrote any of the 119 Reports on Oswald that crossed Reeves’ desk?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Do you remember writing any of them?

RDS: No.

Q: Okay, shifting gears a little bit here, was Detective Paul Bentley of the Dallas Police Department a friend of yours?

RDS: An acquaintance.

Q: How did you know him?

RDS: I’m not sure, but I think he was a polygraph examiner.

Q: Did you ever work with him?

RDS: I think (we were in) the Navy together. [Unintelligible]

Q: Now you wrote a letter to Paul Bentley on November 24, 1963, two days after Oswald was arrested in Dallas, and in the letter you say that quote “ONI had quite a file on Oswald,” and in the letter you also said that A. C. Sullivan of the ONI office could provide Bentley with this file. Did you send this letter before or after Jack Ruby shot Oswald that day?

RDS: Did I send the letter before….?

Q: It’s an historical fact that Jack Ruby shot Oswald on the 24th of November, 1963 and the letter you sent Bentley was dated the same day, so I am wondering if you sent it before or after Ruby shot Oswald?

RDS: I’m sure it was after.

Q: How did you know that ONI had quote “quite a file on Oswald” at that time?

RDS: (Long pause) I don’t know.

Q: Did you see it?

RDS: Did I see it?

Q: Did you see the ONI file on Oswald?

RDS: I may have written the God damn thing.

Q: Okay. Was A.C. Sullivan of Dallas a friend of yours.

RDS: A very close friend.

Q: How did you come to know him?

RDS: He was in the same business I was in. He had been a guest at my home. I had been a guest at his home.

Q: Now was he the head of the Dallas ONI office?

RDS: Yes he was.

Q: Did Sullivan know about the ONI file on Oswald?

RDS: Of course.

Q: Did A.C. Sullivan already have the file on Nov. 24, 1963

RDS: Undoubtedly.

Q: Did you ever speak with Sullivan about Oswald’s ONI file?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Looking back at it, are you sure your statement in the letter that ONI had quite a file on Oswald was accurate? Absolutely sure, very sure, or less sure now than when I wrote the letter.

RDS: Does the letter today bring back any memories?

Q: Reads letter: Dear Paul, Perhaps you are aware ONI has quite a file on Oswald…..

RDS: No.

Q: Did you ever write to or discuss with anyone else about Oswald’s ONI file?

RDS: I don’t think so, other than A.C. Sullivan.

Q: Did you ever have occasion to visit the Dallas ONI office?

RDS: Yes, a number of times.

Q: Where was it located?

RDS: It was in the Post Office building, it was across the street, it was the building from which Kennedy was killed.

Q: It was near Dealey Plaza, and there was a Post Office building on the other side.

RDS: Yes.

Q: Did the Dallas ONI do general ONI work or did it specialize in certain things?

RDS: General.

Q: Did you know other law enforcement or intelligence people in the Dallas area?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Did you know J. Mason Langford, of Ft. Worth, he was head of security for General Dynamics or Convair and later became fire martial of the county.

RDS: I don’t recall him.

Q: Did you know I.P. Hale or Max Clark?

RDS: Both names sound familiar but I don’t recall right now.

Q: Did you know Pat Gannaway, of the Dallas Police Special Services Bureau?

RDS: I just don’t remember.

Q: Did you know Jack Revell, the head of the Dallas Criminal Section of the SSB?

RDS: These names are all familiar but I don’t recall them.

Q: Did you know Colonel Robert E. Jones of 112 Army Intel Group at Fort Sam Houston?

RDS: I don’t recall.

Q: James Powell, an Army Intelligence agent of the 112th?

RDS: The name is familiar but I don’t recall.

Q: Had you heard of Lee Harvey Oswald or Harvey Lee Oswald before the assassination?

RDS: Yes, its possible that I knew him very, very well.

Q: On some documents the name is transposed – Harvey Lee Oswald.

RDS: That is a common occurrence and I never paid much attention to it.

Q: You said there’s a good chance you know Oswald quite well before the assassination?

RDS: Quite possibly.

Q: How would you have possibly known about Oswald quite well before the assassination?

RDS: Because I may have investigated the guy. (After his 1959 defection)

Q: Do you remember investigating him?

RDS: Vaguely [?]

Q: What is your personal opinion of ONI and Oswald?

RDS: ONI was a wonderful organization. As for Oswald, he was a sick man.

Q: What is your personal opinion of the causes of the assassination?

RDS: Oswald was just sick out of his mind.

Q: Do you think he killed Kennedy by himself?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Where were you when you heard Kennedy was shot?

RDS: I don’t know.

Q: When you heard that Oswald had been arrested, did his name sound familiar to you?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Is there anything else you want to say about Oswald, ONI and the assassination?

RDS: No.

Q: Thank you for letting me interview you today, Commander Steel.


  ing.

Question: What is your full name sir?

RDS: Robert David Steel.

Q: When and where were you born?

RDS: May, M-A-Y- Texas, that’s in the central part of the state….

Q: And when were you born?

RDS: May 26, 1919

Q: When did you join the Navy?

RDS: I graduated from the University…. in ….Texas, then I went to Northwestern University midshipman school in Chicago in January 1942 and graduated in May, 1942. I came out to the West Coast, I was in charge of training , Naval section from the University of Southern California, followed by … Midshipman from UCLA.

Q: Did you serve on any ships during World War II?

RDS: I would consider the Sea Scout a ship.

Q: So you served on the Sea Scout?

RDS: I was the commanding officer.

Q: I read about the Sea Scout, that was a sonar training ship, wasn’t it?

RDS: Yes it was.

Q: Okay. Did you serve on any other ships during World War II?

RDS: Yes I did, for the last two years of the war I was on board …. a destroyer escort.

Q: Were you an officer on that ship?

RDS: Yes, I was number three officer, a first lieutenant in charge of everything above the waterline.

Q: What did you do after the war?

RDS: I first worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a tax collector.

Q: In San Diego?

RDS: Collecting from business men in San Diego, and following that Naval Intelligence, I came to work for them as a special agent.

Q: What year did you leave active duty and join the Naval Reserves.

RDS: I suppose that would be 1945.

Q: And what year did you join ONI?

RDS: 1948.

Q: How many years did you work for ONI?

RDS: As a special agent 22 years.

Q: Did you work for ONI in any other capacity other than special agent?

RDS: Yes, I was a commanding officer of the Reserve officers throughout the area.

Q: What years would that have been?

RDS: That was for a two year period and I had to work my way up to that position, and I retired from that around 1962.

Q: When you were working as a special agent were you technically a civilian agent?

RDS: Yes sir, but I wore two hats, being a Reserve officer I was also doing Reserve duty from time to time with various other agencies – CIA, FBI and other military services in Washington DC mainly.

Q: Did you serve as liaison with CIA and FBI so to speak?

RDS: I wouldn’t call it liaison, I was indoctrinated into their activities.

Q: Did you work for the same branch or department of ONI while you were a special agent all those years?

RDS: Would you repeat the question?

Q: I am a little bit unfamiliar with the structure of ONI. I believe there was a special branch – the Naval Investigative Service, did you work for that branch for 22 years as a special agent?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Did your work at ONI involve liaison with any other government agencies?

RDS: (Laughs) Yes.

Q: With CIA and FBI for example?

RDS: Yes.

Q: In which naval district were you stationed in late 1959 and early 1960?

RDS: Would you repeat that?

Q: In which naval district were you stationed in late 1959-60?

RDS: My headquarters were always in this naval district.

Q: That would include San Diego?

RDS: San Diego and all the area that included Arizona and New Mexico.

Q: Who was your boss 1959-1963?

RDS: Who was my boss? I had many.

Q: Did you know Fred Reeves?

RDS: (Laugh) A very good close friend.

Q: Was he the head of the San Diego ONI office?

RDS: For a brief period.

Q: Do you remember roughly when?

RDS: No I’m sorry I can’t recall. 

Q: Was he ever your boss.

RDS: Very briefly. We were mainly co-workers.

Q: When did you start living in San Diego?

RDS: Ten, 1942.

Q: Where was your office in San Diego?

RDS: Headquarters building was at Broadway Pier.

Q: Who were your closest colleagues in San Diego?

RDS: ONI or other law enforcement agencies?

Q: I was thinking ONI.

RDS: I had dozens, I mean, its best to be good to everybody.

Q: Do you know what a “119 Report” was?

RDS: Yes sir.

Q: Did you ever write any 119 Reports on anyone while you were with ONI?

RDS: Hundreds of them.

Q: Did you have anyone working under you in 1959.

RDS: Yes.

Q: Is it fair to say that you did as well in 1963?

RDS: Repeat?

Q: Did you have anyone working under you in 1963?

RDS: Its hard to say working under me, we worked as a team. There were people in certain positions who were less qualified as myself, so we worked as a team because somebody had to fill certain billets, somebody had to sit by at a desk because they were incapable of doing certain things.

Q: Let me put it this way, were you anybody’s boss in 1963?

RDS: We worked as team, they were co-workers.

Q: Okay. Fred Reeves told the Assassinations Records Review Board that a week or so after Lee Harvey Oswald defected to the USSR, Reeves had been called by two ONI officers in Washington DC and was asked to do a background investigation on Oswald at El Toro, Marine Air Station, Oswald’s last duty station before leaving the Marine Corps. Is it possible you did this investigation for Reeves?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Would you say it is possible or would you say it is probable?

RDS: Probable.

Q: Is it fair to say you were you probably sent in to do this investigation of Oswald because you were a more highly skilled experienced investigator than the ONI people stationed at El Toro who were used to doing more mundane investigation.

RDS: Yes.

Q: Do you remember doing this investigation for Reeves at El Toro?

RDS: (Yes) but not very well.

Q: Given that Oswald was stationed at El Toro and had just defected, I’d like to ask you some hypothetical questions. Would have done it by yourself or with other special agents?

RDS: (unintelligible)

Q: Okay. Would you have questioned Oswald’s former colleagues at El Toro?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Would you have had a stenographer with you?

RDS: No.

Q: Would you have introduced yourself to these marines you were questioning?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Do you remember the name Nelson Delgado at El Toro.

RDS: Not the name, could you tell me his position?

Q: He was a marine like Oswald and a friend of Oswald, not an officer, an enlisted man.

RDS: No I don’t remember.

Q: Okay. Going back to Reeves and the ARRB Final Report, Reeves said he went to El Toro Marine Air Station, copied Oswald’s enlisted personnel files, talked to Oswald’s associates and mailed this to ONI in Washington D.C.  Reeves said that ONI in Washington DC ran the post defection investigation of Oswald and the Washington officers then directed various agents in the field. Reeves said he did not interview anyone himself but that later, late 1959 or early 1960, there were approximately twelve to fifteen ONI 119 Reports that crossed his desk. Reeves said he was aware of some of the 119 Reports from Japan and Texas and that the primary concern of the reports he read on Oswald was to ascertain what damage to national security Oswald’s defection to the USSR had caused. Is it possible that you wrote any of the 119 Reports on Oswald that crossed Reeves’ desk?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Do you remember writing any of them?

RDS: No.

Q: Okay, shifting gears a little bit here, was Detective Paul Bentley of the Dallas Police Department a friend of yours?

RDS: An acquaintance.

Q: How did you know him?

RDS: I’m not sure, but I think he was a polygraph examiner.

Q: Did you ever work with him?

RDS: I think (we were in) the Navy together. [Unintelligible]

Q: Now you wrote a letter to Paul Bentley on November 24, 1963, two days after Oswald was arrested in Dallas, and in the letter you say that quote “ONI had quite a file on Oswald,” and in the letter you also said that A. C. Sullivan of the ONI office could provide Bentley with this file. Did you send this letter before or after Jack Ruby shot Oswald that day?

RDS: Did I send the letter before….?

Q: It’s an historical fact that Jack Ruby shot Oswald on the 24th of November, 1963 and the letter you sent Bentley was dated the same day, so I am wondering if you sent it before or after Ruby shot Oswald?

RDS: I’m sure it was after.

Q: How did you know that ONI had quote “quite a file on Oswald” at that time?

RDS: (Long pause) I don’t know.

Q: Did you see it?

RDS: Did I see it?

Q: Did you see the ONI file on Oswald?

RDS: I may have written the God damn thing.

Q: Okay. Was A.C. Sullivan of Dallas a friend of yours.

RDS: A very close friend.

Q: How did you come to know him?

RDS: He was in the same business I was in. He had been a guest at my home. I had been a guest at his home.

Q: Now was he the head of the Dallas ONI office?

RDS: Yes he was.

Q: Did Sullivan know about the ONI file on Oswald?

RDS: Of course.

Q: Did A.C. Sullivan already have the file on Nov. 24, 1963

RDS: Undoubtedly.

Q: Did you ever speak with Sullivan about Oswald’s ONI file?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Looking back at it, are you sure your statement in the letter that ONI had quite a file on Oswald was accurate? Absolutely sure, very sure, or less sure now than when I wrote the letter.

RDS: Does the letter today bring back any memories?

Q: Reads letter: Dear Paul, Perhaps you are aware ONI has quite a file on Oswald…..

RDS: No.

Q: Did you ever write to or discuss with anyone else about Oswald’s ONI file?

RDS: I don’t think so, other than A.C. Sullivan.

Q: Did you ever have occasion to visit the Dallas ONI office?

RDS: Yes, a number of times.

Q: Where was it located?

RDS: It was in the Post Office building, it was across the street, it was the building from which Kennedy was killed.

Q: It was near Dealey Plaza, and there was a Post Office building on the other side.

RDS: Yes.

Q: Did the Dallas ONI do general ONI work or did it specialize in certain things?

RDS: General.

Q: Did you know other law enforcement or intelligence people in the Dallas area?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Did you know J. Mason Langford, of Ft. Worth, he was head of security for General Dynamics or Convair and later became fire martial of the county.

RDS: I don’t recall him.

Q: Did you know I.P. Hale or Max Clark?

RDS: Both names sound familiar but I don’t recall right now.

Q: Did you know Pat Gannaway, of the Dallas Police Special Services Bureau?

RDS: I just don’t remember.

Q: Did you know Jack Revell, the head of the Dallas Criminal Section of the SSB?

RDS: These names are all familiar but I don’t recall them.

Q: Did you know Colonel Robert E. Jones of 112 Army Intel Group at Fort Sam Houston?

RDS: I don’t recall.

Q: James Powell, an Army Intelligence agent of the 112th?

RDS: The name is familiar but I don’t recall.

Q: Had you heard of Lee Harvey Oswald or Harvey Lee Oswald before the assassination?

RDS: Yes, its possible that I knew him very, very well.

Q: On some documents the name is transposed – Harvey Lee Oswald.

RDS: That is a common occurrence and I never paid much attention to it.

Q: You said there’s a good chance you know Oswald quite well before the assassination?

RDS: Quite possibly.

Q: How would you have possibly known about Oswald quite well before the assassination?

RDS: Because I may have investigated the guy. (After his 1959 defection)

Q: Do you remember investigating him?

RDS: Vaguely [?]

Q: What is your personal opinion of ONI and Oswald?

RDS: ONI was a wonderful organization. As for Oswald, he was a sick man.

Q: What is your personal opinion of the causes of the assassination?

RDS: Oswald was just sick out of his mind.

Q: Do you think he killed Kennedy by himself?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Where were you when you heard Kennedy was shot?

RDS: I don’t know.

Q: When you heard that Oswald had been arrested, did his name sound familiar to you?

RDS: Yes.

Q: Is there anything else you want to say about Oswald, ONI and the assassination?

RDS: No.

Q: Thank you for letting me interview you today, Commander Steel.


NOTE: Robert Steel passed away shortly after this interview. Many thanks to Thomas Graves for taking the time to question him on the record before he passed away. A copy of the original cassette will be made as well as a digital version and the original returned to Thomas Graves. Originally slated to be sent to the Baylor Poague Library JFK Collection, that is no longer accepting JFK material, copies will be archived at the Assassination Archives and Research Center in Washington D.C. 


RELEVANT LINKS: 









Thursday, April 28, 2016

Join CAPA


CAPA
Citizens Against Political Assassinations
Washington, DC

Dear Friends and Associates:

As a researcher and/or student of the JFK assassination, you may be aware that The JFK Act of 1992 requires the release of all government records on the assassination of President Kennedy by October 2017. The president of the United States at that time will be responsible for its enforcement.

Our recently formed nonprofit organization, Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) will continue the fight we started decades ago to get the law passed and ensure this Act is enforced as well as undertake similar national initiatives on other political assassinations to see that the truth is revealed and justice prevails. To do this we need your help and support.

CAPA plans to pursue the release of the remaining JFK records, file Freedom of Information Act requests for more records, take legal actions to enforce the law and undertake public education efforts to ensure that the forces that orchestrated such assassinations will no longer be able to influence government policies.

These initiatives require funding to be effective. Please help by joining us and providing whatever financial support you can afford, volunteering your time as part of a CAPA Committee, contacting your congressional representatives, and spreading the word on social media about CAPA, our mission, programs and legal initiatives.Time is running out to do something about these horrific crimes and cover-ups.

There is power in numbers so join this worthy endeavor to bring truth and justice to those who have been killed for their beliefs. Thank you.

The CAPA Board of Directors: Dr. Cyril Wecht, Andrew Kreig, Larry Schnapf, Esq., Jerry Policoff, Michael Nurko, Bill Kelly and Ben Wecht.  

CAPA Board of Advisors: Professor Peter Dale Scott, Dr. John Newman, Marie Fonzi, David Talbot, Alan Dale, Bill Simpich and Dr. Gary Aguilar.

Add your name to ours, become a CAPA member and serve on a CAPA board or committee. Join us: Send check or money order - $50 yearly dues or a donation to: Citizens Against Political Assassinations - CAPA P.O. Box 7641, Lancaster, Pa., 17604-7641

Or you can become a member on line via Pay Pal at our web site. For more information on participating, please visit us on line: http://capa-hq.com/ or like us at: https://www.facebook.com/Citizens-Against-Political-Assassination-CAPA-819677374745875/ and for emergencies and breaking news and updates: https://twitter.com/HQ_CAPA .


If you have further questions please contact CAPA Secretary Bill Kelly at (609) 425-6297  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

List of Withheld Records - A Preliminary Report

Note - this is a first draft - I will add more links and graphics ASAP. - BK 

GEMS OF THE FAMILY JEWELS

LIST OF WITHHELD JFK ASSASSINATION RECORDS – A PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS
AND THE TOP TEN ISSUES IT PRESENTS.

BY W. KELLY

   “It may seem to those nourished on the exploits of James Bond ,…that journalistic activities have little to do with intelligence work. But intelligence is a mosaic. General material about background and people’s interrelationships can be both illuminating and important. Quite often missing pieces of the mosaic emerge that make a previously incomprehensible picture unexpectedly clear.” – Mary Bancroft (Autobiography of a Spy, William Morrow, 1983 p. 150)

A nation’s history and its official secrets are often considered the Family Jewels, and America’s secret records of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are considered the most precious secrets that the government refuses to give up, even reveal to its own citizens.

The real Deep Political secret records never see the light of day and are Deep Sixed so they are forever gone, though occasionally one will float to the surface and be saved and placed on a shelf in a secure and temperature controlled vault where many of the nation’s most precious secrets are stored.

Among the official archival records there is the JFK Collection at the Archives II industrial warehouse of records in College Park, Maryland. The JFK Collection was instituted by the JFK Act of 1992 – a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. H. Bush. It requires all of the government’s records on the assassination of President Kennedy be released to the public by October 2017, a fast approaching date that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) says it will meet despite the reluctance of other agencies of government.

The only way an official record can still be withheld beyond that date is by an order of the President of the United States, whoeverf he or she may be, and this is an issue that is certain to be brought to the attention of each of the candidates for that office.

But we don’t have to wait until October 2017 to get a glimpse of these Family Jewels because, thanks to the determined efforts of a few intrepid researchers we have a new document – which purports to be a list of the  over 3,000 JFK assassination records still being withheld that are scheduled to be released in 2017.

Both independent researcher Michael Ravnitzky and reporter Bryan Bender can be credited for seeking this document and breaking this story. Ravnitzky first requested the document, and had it posted at Russ Baker’s WWWW web site. Bryan Bender who wrote about this story for the Boston Globe and now does so for the digital journal Politico, also requested the document under the Freedom of Information Act and has followed up with a series of FOIA requests for other records. So far Jefferson Morley at JFKFacts.org and the British Daily Mail have followed up with additional stories.  

This list of withheld JFK assassination records is like a small port-hole window through which we can shine a little light into the dark world of secrets being kept in the government’s vault. Though we will have a much better picture window view of them on stage, under the lights and in great detail when all of the records are released to the public for everyone to read, this one document gives us some insight into what we will find. 

The new document purports to answer a lot of questions concerning the withheld records but actually creates fresh doubts and sparks new questions - like how many records are still being withheld? And why isn’t the JFK Act  being strictly enforced by Congressional oversight, as it should be?   

At first glance the 146 page spread sheet list of RIFs – Record Identification Forms, for the most part lists their topic, agency of origin and how many pages they are – gives us some concrete numbers that have thus far been missing. 3, 603 and 3,063 still with held documents have been the most frequent numbers thrown about – but Raymon Herrera, who has put together a program to reconfigure the documents in a more readable form says that there are actually 3,568 RIF records listed.  

If you use the NARA’s hopelessly outdated digital data base you come up with tens of thousands of records that are listed as withheld in full or in part but in fact are readily available as they were released in a number of earlier data dumps, sometimes accelerating the release of the records years before they were required to.
The dumping of tons of documents into the public domain at one time is also a deliberate obstrufustion tactic in which the really significant gems of informative facts are included among useless information, thus insuring it won’t be found for years, at least until some intrepid researcher requests it or accidently stumbles across it, discovers it and recognizes its significance. One small piece of the Dealey Plaza Mosaic, as Mary Bancroft would put it, a piece that makes it all so unexpectedly clear.

At first glance a quick survey of the new list of still withheld JFK assassination records requires the creation of a new list of issues this document raises, beginning with the total number of records still being withheld. 
 Then there’s the question of exactly how many are being withheld by each agency of government? Is it really 3, 568 or is that a number that will change over time as we sift through the records.

This document gives us the names and subject matter that is the topic of each document, at least some of them, and discloses or explains why some of the records are being withheld, many under (b)(3) 26 U.S.C. &6103 – the IRS personal privacy law. Does this law trump the JFK Act? Will it be used to keep records withheld beyond October 2017 even without a presidential order?

Some of William Manchester’s records are also among these records, including interviews with Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy. Manchester has placed a personal time of release that is beyond the JFK Act, so which one rules? Will William Manchester’s personal last will and testament over rule the JFK Act, or will that issue be used to continue the withholding of the records with or without the president’s approval? 
  
The list indicates a few things right off the bat including the fact that hundreds of the documents are identified as being “illegible,” meaning you can’t read it, which begs the question - why the agencies of government would withhold a record that can’t be read, and why would the ARRB approve the withholding of such a record?

Another thing that jumps out of the list is the fact that there are many Warren Commission documents still being withheld, when it was previously alleged by the NARA that all of the Warren Commission era records had been released.

In addition, while the House Select Committee on Assassination (HSCA) MLK records were not included in the JFK Act, there are many MLK and MLK assassination records on the list, as well as a number of records concerning racial riots, anti-war demonstrations and the 1968 Democratic National Convention, all of which occurred years after the assassination. Why are these documents being included among the JFK Assassination Records Collection?

Some of the withheld records, such as the Collins Radio documents are labeled “NBR” – Not Believed Relevant, yet they most certainly are as Collins Radio made the Air Force One radios and operated the relay station that broadcast the signals. This begs the question as to why they would include dozens of irrelevant records on political demonstrations that occurred years after the assassination, yet try to with hold the most significant records that are directly connected to the assassination?

Of the  ONI records being withheld, it is noteworthy that the ONI Defector Files are not among them, which indicates that they have been deliberately excluded from the JFK Collection, not given a RIF number and are simply being withheld without being included among the official list of records being with held.

Other ONI records, such as the 119 Reports we know exist or did exist at one time, and the assassination records of ONI chief Admiral Rufus Taylor, are not listed either, so they are not being withheld, and won’t be released in October 2017, but must be considered missing, lost, stolen or intentionally destroyed. Why is there is no investigation into what became of these missing records?

Most noteworthy is the fact that some of the records listed as being withheld have already been released, though in most cases, in redacted form.

The Subjects-Topic of the documents on the list can be broken down into four categories – names of individuals, organizations, places and record  types. I have listed as many of the individuals mentioned as I can at JFKCountercoup2 -  https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=522635142791807512 - allposts/postNum=2 

I have previously reviewed some of the background off Judd McIlvaine, the University of Missouri Journalism grad who specialized in Central and South American news and whose interview with the Church Committee is among the list of withheld records. It was quickly established that McIlvaine had also been interviewed at length by others and there are related government records already released, so whatever it is in this record that is being suppressed is probably already available from other sources.

As some researchers have noted, some records being withheld by one agency have already been released by another agency. If you want to get some deep background on a particular record that’s listed you can go to the NARA or MaryFerrell.org data base and type in the first two groups of the RIF number and it will lead you to other documents in that field, sometimes even the exact document that’s listed as being withheld has already been released and is available on line.

One series of documents on the list relates to JFK advance man John Byrne and one Bill Turner - not the recently deceased former FBI agent, but the Exalted Ruler of the Fort Worth Elks Club. He sked JFK’s advance man John Byrne if the president would stop to visit his club house, a request that was politely rejected. But apparently he generated a half dozen reports and official documents that have been officially deemed so secret that they must be kept from the curious and reading public in order to maintain the nation’s security.

But you can read about Byrne’s successful and fateful advance trip to Fort Worth in the article “The Day Before Dallas” that he wrote for Prologue, the glossy NARA magazine, in which he mentions the requests he received from various Texas civic leaders, including Bill Turner, the Exalted Ruler of the Elks. Maybe there was a plot to kill the President at the Elks Club, or some other issue of national security, one that we will learn the answer to come October 2017.

Whether the JFK Collection contains all of the official records as required is yet to be seen but one thing is for certain, there will be another data dump come that day, and the most precious of secrets will be made available to the public for all to see, but it will be up to the researchers, historians, journalists and reporters who will have to dig through the morass to find the real gems that are the final pieces to Mary Bancroft’s Mosaic, the total picture of what really happened at Dealey Plaza.

Bancroft was also fond of quoting her uncle  C.W. Barron, who often reminded her, “Remember that facts are not the truth. They only indicate where the truth may lie!”

So `the Top Ten Issues this document presents and the questions they pose are:

1) How many records are still being withheld?
2) How many agencies are involved and how many are being withheld from each agency?
3) Why are there so many described as “illegible”? Why were they withheld and why did ARRB agree to withhold them?
4) How many Warren Commission records are still being withheld? The zero answer previously provided by NARA is clearly incorrect.
5) Why are MLK assassination records, race riots and the DNC 1968 records, clearly unrelated to the assassination included in the JFK Collection when they are clearly NBR?
6) Why are the Collins Radio records described as NBR when theyv are relevant?
7) How come the ONI Defector and ONI Director Files are not listed among the still withheld records when they are still being withheld?
8) Why are there so many records listed as withheld when in fact they have been released and are available?
9) What about the records we know exist that are not among the JFK Collection – ONI 119 Reports, ONI Director Files, Richard Sprague’s HSCA records, the original Air Force One radio tapes and other such records? Is the NARA actively searching and seeking these records?
10) Will the AOTUS – Mr. Ferraro – ever get around to publishing an index and guide to the JFK Collection as the JFK Act law requires?

And finally, when will the appropriate committee of Congress hold public hearings on the JFK Act, inquire as to why there are so many missing and possibly destroyed records, and see to the strict and proper enforcement of the JFK Act?

After all, these records - the Family Jewels are the history of America – our history, our nation, and they do not belong to any secret government agency, classified redactor or petty bureaucrat – they belong to the citizens who paid for them and legally own them, as the secrets of the assassination are all our secrets.

And as Dan Ellisberg asked, once we learn the secrets, what are we going to do with that new knowledge?


Bill Kelly can be reached at billkelly3@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Restoring Oliver Stone's Mercedes - the Elephant in the Archives

Restoring Oliver Stone’s Mercedes - the Elephant in the Archives
By William E. Kelly (billkelly3@gmail.com) 

Image result for Oliver Stone testifying before Congress 1992 

“It may seem to those nourished on the exploits of James Bond,…that journalistic activities have little to do with intelligence work. But intelligence is a mosaic. General material about background and people’s interrelationships can be both illuminating and important. Quite often missing pieces of the mosaic emerge that make a previously incomprehensible picture unexpectedly clear.” – Mary Bancroft (Autobiography of a Spy, William Morrow, 1983 p. 150)

The JFK Act of 1992 requires all government records on the assassination of President Kennedy to be released to the public in full by October 2017, unless kept sealed by the President, a daunting task since they don’t even know exactly how many records are still being withheld.

The efforts to obtain the release of the records began before the Warren Commission concluded its business, and picked up steam after the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded their investigation, sealed their records for fifty years, and exempted itself from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), requiring an act of Congress to free them.

After many years of fruitlessly lobbying Congress a small group of persistent researchers suggested that an attempt be made to take advantage of the surging publicity surrounding Oliver Stone’s yet unfinished and unreleased JFK movie.

Just as the film “Executive Action” had a trailer at the end of the movie that mentioned the fate of many of those assassination witnesses who died suspiciously, it was suggested that the same technique be used to call attention to the still secret JFK assassination records. Such a widely viewed statement could stimulate the public’s interest in the records, and indeed it did, so much so that practically every Congressman was asked about the sealed records and agreed to do something about it.

But rather than just release the HSCA records we sought, Congress went beyond what we asked for and extended the law to include all of the JFK assassination records of every government agency, but at the same time kept the HSCA records on the MLK assassination sealed, as they remain today.

Oliver Stone was one of the few outside the national security think tank system to testify before a preliminary Congressional hearing and given an opportunity to talk directly to the legislative committee responsible for government records and complained about the MLK records being left out of the law saying, “What do I have to do to get you to release them, make a movie about the MLK assassination?”

When he was asked what he expected to find in the files, Stone replied that he didn’t expect a “smoking gun” document that would prove conspiracy because most of the important records will have been purged, but he did expect there to still be a few important pieces to the puzzle that will give us a more accurate picture of what happened at Dealey Plaza.

Stone compared the existing JFK assassination records to a 1963 Mercedes-Benz automobile left on a street in Harlem. Thirty years later it would have been stripped of its chrome, tires, radio and accessories, but the frame would still be there and you would still be able to identify it as a Mercedes.

The JFK Act was passed unanimously by Congress and reluctantly signed into law by President George W. H. Bush as one of his last official duties before leaving office. It was left to be carried out by President Clinton, who appointed the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), headed by Federal Judge John Tunheim to oversee identifying and releasing the records to the public. The law established the JFK Records Collections at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at the new Archives II building in suburban College Park, Maryland.

So far millions of pages of documents have been released from many agencies of government, yet so many records remain sealed from the public that the archivists responsible for them can’t tell us how many there are still being withheld.
It has been said that there are no Warren Commission records withheld or redacted, and a number 3,603 documents has been thrown about as the number of records still being withheld, but it’s hard to nail down exactly what these records are, and how many pages there are, as some documents contain hundreds of pages.

Many documents listed on the NARA JFK Collection’s digital public data base that are listed as still being withheld have in fact been released in full or in part in a number of massive data dumps over the years, with many documents labeled still withheld among them.

THE NEW SPREAD SHEET

Now we have a spread sheet list of a few thousand documents with RIF numbers, so they have been processed by the ARRB, a list said to be that of the still withheld records.  [FOIA - Freedom of Information Act / JFK-List-of-Denied-Docs-redacted.pdf ] The list was first obtained by an JFK assassination researcher Michael Ravnitzky who filed an FOIA request for them, and first posted on line by Russ Baker’s  WhoWhatWhy.org [ BREAKING NEWS: List of Withheld JFK Assassination Documents - WhoWhatWhy ] and is being followed up on by Jefferson Morley at JFKFacts.org and at POLITICO, by former Boston Globe reporter Brian Bender, who has been on this story for years.

There are many researchers now poring over this list, and a number of things come to my attention right away, including the fact that some of these items are already in the public domain, and others or copies of others have already been released in the previous data dumps.

For the uninitiated, every document and record identified for inclusion in the JFK Collection at the National Archives is given a Record Identification Finder – a RIF number that begins with three digits that refer to the originating agency – and then a series of numbers that refer to the serial the record is contained in.

Using the National Archives JFK Collection Web site or the Mary Ferrell site, you can type in the RIF number and see if it has already been released, or as Bill Simpich has suggested, to find other documents that are in that series that gives you an idea of what the subject matter is if the subject is still classified, as many are.

REASSEMBLING OLIVER STONE’S MERCEDES

This is the just be beginning of the process that must be used to reassemble Oliver Stone’s Mercedes.

Around the same time we were working with Oliver Stone to free the JFK files, my uncle Stephen Skip Hayes, a Catholic priest wrote a homily about our work, and compared it to the ancient story of the blind men describing different parts of an elephant. And that’s kind of what we are doing, each taking a different part of the historical record and describing what’s there and how it relates to what happened at Dealey Plaza.

There are a number of ways to locate new and important records from the data dumps, like a needle in a haystack, by following a few procedures.

As Peter Dale Scott has proposed in his “Negative-Template” thesis, the most important records are the ones we will never see, that have been purged from the official record, intentionally misfiled, stolen and/or destroyed. Second in line are the ones they are trying to keep sealed, and these are the ones we are looking at.

There is also the technique used by the college professor who recently discovered thousands of previously unknown documents written and signed by Walt Whitman, America’s Poet Laurate. Knowing Whitman’s signature by sight, he went looking through the Civil War records of the Attorney General, where Whitman worked as a secretary for two years, and expecting to find a few, was surprised to find thousands, so many that it will take years for Whitman scholars to go through them all. The idea is to go to a section of the archives where you would expect to find what you are looking for.

In any case, we are now in the process of describing the elephant at the Archives, and rebuilding Oliver Stone’s Mercedes, a task that when completed, should give us a view of what really happened at Dealey Plaza, and if the Mercedes was driven by a deranged loner or was controlled by a highly sophisticated covert intelligence operation. 



RECORD # TITLE TO FROM CREATED DATE AGENCY FILE # ORIGIN RECORD SERIES
# OF PAGES 

178 SERIES - the first 13 records are documents from the 1975 Rockefeller Commission

178-10004-10424 (b) (1)  05/01/1975 CAR/HARDY JEWELS 1  CIA  SUBJECT FILES 08/16/1993 17 pages

178-10004-10395 STURGIS TAPES, 4/4/75 04/04/1975 ROCKCOM STURGIS TESTIMONY/TAPES  ROCK ASSASSINATION FILE 08/13/1993 10 pages

178-10004-10394 MC ILVAIN TAPE (DUPLICATE)   00/00/1975 ROCKCOM A-III (c) interview Tapes ROCK  ASSASSINATION FILE 08/13/1993 5 (PAGES) Unclassified No transcript Date Unknown Two dicta belt envelope

[BK Notes - This refers to TV reporter Judd McIlvain - who covered Central America for ABC and is listed among the Rockefeller Papers (also still classified) For more on McIlvain see:


178-10004-10392 TAPE OF MR. WILLIAM K. HARVEY’S INTRERVIEW, 4/10/75

178-10004-10391 TAPE OF INTERVIEW OF COLONEL SHEFFIELD EDWARDS APRIL 9, 1975

178-10004-10390  (b) (1)

178-10004-10389 TAPES OF INTERVIEW W/WILL WILSON 5/15/75

178-10004-10388 (b) (1)

178-10004-10387 (b) (1)

178-10004-10386 TAPE OF CONVERSATION WITH MC GEORGE BUNDY, APRIL 8, 1975 (W/BELIN)

178-10004-10215 CASTRO  BUCHEN, PHILIP 08/07/1975 MATHENY DAVID BELIN’S SUMMARY REPORT WH ROCKEFELLER COMMISSION

178-10004-10196  CURTIS, E.G. 01/13/1961 DAVIS SSC-TRUJILLO ASSASSINATION, CUBA, CHILI DOS GENERAL SUBJECT FILE 08/10/1993 7  Top Secret Detailed me(mo?) Whiting, Will Gray, et al.

Image result for 1963 Mercedes Benz in junkyard

Image result for 1963 Mercedes Benz in junkyard
1963 Mercedes-Benz - Original - Thirty Years Later - Being Restored




Second Series – 104

104-10010-10249 ACCESS RESTRICTED    04/21/1964 CIA 201-289246 WC JFK  06/25/1993 7 pages Unclassified OSW15:V56B 1993.06.25.18:01:030250: THIS ITEM HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN BECAUSE IT CONTAINS SECURITY CLASSIFIED INFO OR OTHERWISE RESTRICTED INFO. DRAFT MEMO  FOR THE RECORD


104-10013-10277 WITHHELD 01/01/1964 CIA 201-2889248  CIA JFK 06/29/1993 1 page Unclasssified  OSW17:V3 1993.06.29.09:19:02:840800: THIS DOCMENT WAS PART OF THE NAME FOLDER ENCLOSURE TO RECORD NUM 111100001100007. PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF THIS RECORD IS POSTPONED PEDING REVIEW BY THE ASSASSINATIONS RECORDS REVIE BOARD. DOCUMENT IN NOFORN