Tuesday, February 26, 2013

JFK Assassination Goes to Court


The JFK assassination was the subject of three different court cases on this day – Monday, February 25, 2013.

In Dallas there was a ruling on the city’s appeal of the case of the City of Dallas v. Robert Groden, while in Washington D.C. a three judge panel heard oral arguments in an appeal of the FOIA case of Morley v. the CIA and a new case was filed – Max Holland and Judicial Watch v. the NARA over the Kennedy family’s continued withholding of records of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

The ruling in Dallas stemmed from Groden's June 13, 2012 arrest, though the charges against hmi were changed twice, which led Judge Kristin Wade to agree with the judges who ruled in the 80 other cases brought against him, dismissing the charges. 

Apparently only Dallas Observer columnist and "Get Off My Lawn!" blogger Jim Schutze thinks this
is newsworthy enough to cover, as his reports seem to be the only ones coming out of Texas.
JFK Conspiracy Theorist Robert Groden goes 81-0 with Latest Win Against City Censors - Dallas - News - Unfair Park

You can also read the three page ruling that I posted here:  JFKCountercoup2: 81st Groden Verdict In

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Jeff Morley's attorney Jim Lesar made oral arguments on the significance of Morley's research and the value of his case, and getting some support from Judge Harry Edwards, but we won't know the full verdict until the three judges make their decisions and opinions are written, which could take a few weeks or a few months.

Here's a quick report from someone who was there, who wishes to remain anonymous:  "I attended oral argument this morning in the US Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit on the Morley v. CIA case where the issue was whether the district judge abused his discretion in denying attorneys fees.  During the government's argument Judge Edwards gave a strong defense of FOIA researchers and awarding attorneys fees.  He said it is not for the government alone to determine whether a researcher should be interested in a topic or whether the topic is in the public interest.  He said the test under court precedent is a topic/subject test rather than a content of documents test.  It is irrelevant for the government to argue the documents released did not contain important information if the topic or subject was one of public interest- it is not possible for a researcher to know where the research will ultimately lead when beginning a project.  Judge Edwards stated the district judge did not following circuit precedent in the case by not following Davy.  Judges Kavanaugh and Williams remained silent and did not defend the government on this.  Judge Williams had some negative-sounding questions for Jim Lesar during plaintiff's argument.  J. Edwards was so strong on his points that it gave some hope he might carry the day with his colleagues, or if not it would be a split decision."

On his Facebook page, Jeff wrote: "The hearing at the DC Court of Appeals went very well this morning. Judge Harry Edwards, a liberal, was clearly sympathetic to my case. Judge Stephen Williams, a conservative, was skeptical, though less vocally. Judge Brett Kavanagh, also conservative, didn't say much. I'll have a more detailed take on JFK Facts later today but for now I'm relieved its over. And I likes my chances!"

Jeff later wrote more about what happened at JFKfacts: 

JFKfacts » Federal judges hear arguments about CIA JFK assassination records

For more on earlier decisions in the case see:
JFKcountercoup: Morley v. CIA in Court

JFKCountercoup2: Morley v. CIA Dec 7, 2007 Ruling

The same day it was reported that Max Holland Judicial Watch had entered a FOIA suit against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for failing to respond to their request for some of the private papers of RFK that are held at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.

Which Morley also reports on at JFKfacts:

JFKfacts » Judicial Watch lawsuit seeks 7 JFK records in RFK’s papers

And which is detailed in a press release (reproduced in full below)

JFKcountercoup: Holland v. NARA over RFK Papers

JW Sues National Archives Challenging the Withholding of RFK Department of Justice Records
February 25, 2013 | 

Shortly thereafter however, Holland withdrew his suit, after he said, documents were released, but it seems like they had been released all the time.

The problem with Holland's suit is the fact that the ARRB, according to papers filed by Review Board Member Kermit Hall, indicates clearly that the RFK papers at the JFK Library in Boston were surveyed by the ARRB and the documents identified as related to the assassination were made part of the JFK Collection at the NARA at Archives II at College Park.


Under Reel 5, Series 2: Records from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston
Sub-series 3: Papers of Robert F. Kennedy p. 21 - 25 describe RFK records from while he was Attorney General that appear to have been released under the JFK Act - approximately 749 pages of records.

From 0561 President's Office Files, Countries, Cuba-Security 78 pp.... to 0545 Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General, Confidential File - Cuba 6-6, Counter-revolutinoary handbook, 196 pp. Counter-revolutionary handbook. 10/10/62. Source: CIA

Kennedy Family Continues to Keep Secret Government Records in Violation of the Freedom of Information Act

(WashingtonDC) – On February 12, 2013, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of author/historian Max Holland against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The suit challenges the withholding of Robert F. Kennedy’s records while he served as Attorney General, including “assassination records” relevant to the November 22, 1963 murder of his brother, former President John F. Kennedy. (Holland v. National Archives and Records Administration (No. 13-00185)). These records are currently under control of the Kennedy family under the auspices of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester,Massachusetts.

Judicial Watch filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests in fall 2012 with NARAafter press outlets reported that the JFK Library was in possession of more than 60 boxes of records from Robert F. Kennedy’s tenure as the U.S. Attorney General. Contained in these boxes are diaries, notes, phone logs, messages, trip files, memoranda, reports, and other records concerning the Cuban missile crisis, the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, and law enforcement activities of both the FBI and Justice Department.

Although it has been reported that numerous government archivists and historians believe these records—an undetermined number of which are government records—should be made publicly available, none of the records are available for review and they remain under control of the Kennedy family.

In response to Judicial Watch’s September 26, 2012, FOIA request, NARA produced a list describing a group of records that were referenced by the press reports, including records involving the JFK assassination. Judicial Watch subsequently filed a FOIA request withNARA on December 5, 2012, on behalf of author/historian Max Holland seeking access to the following records:

Copies of the seven records identified in the enclosed “Documents from the Robert F. Kennedy Papers: Attorney General’s Confidential File which have been identified by the JFK Assassination Records Review Board as ‘assassination records.’”

NARA was required by law to respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request by January 9, 2013.  However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s complaint, NARA has failed to provide any records responsive to the request or indicate when any responsive records will be produced. NARA has also failed to demonstrate that responsive records are exempt from production, prompting Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.

November 22, 2013, will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. The circumstances surrounding his assassination have been a source of controversy and public fascination for decades.

To complete the public record on the Kennedy assassination, Congress established the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), an independent agency, to “gather and open” all “assassination records” concerned with Kennedy’s death, as mandated under the President John F. Kennedy Records Collection Act of 1992, 44 U.S.C.§ 2107 (Supp. V 1994).

According to Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit, seven records deemed to be “assassination records” by the ARRB, which issued its final report in 1998, remain secret to this day. They include some of the president’s personal records; documents describing Central Intelligence Activities in Cuba; a Cuban Information Service message dated1/26/63entitled, “THE PLANES THAT WERE NOT THERE;” a State Department incoming cable from Mexico; and a document entitled, “Information on Lincoln Bubble Top Automobile sinse [sic] returning from Dallas.” (A Lincoln Continental with a removable bubble top was the presidential limousine used by President Kennedy).

Judicial Watch and its client, author/historian Max Holland have, requested all of these records be disclosed pursuant to FOIA law.  “Over a six-year period in the 1990s, the U.S.government spent millions of tax dollars and untold man-hours in an effort to gather in one place all assassination-related documents,” Holland said. “It was and remains outrageous that relevant government documents in the papers of the attorney general at the time are somehow out of reach.”

“The JFK records are clearly government records and they should be disclosed in accordance with FOIA law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This lawsuit is about much more than the Kennedy assassination. It goes to the heart of how much control a presidential family may assert over public records. These records do not belong to the Kennedy family – the records belong to the American people.”

Holland, a 1972 graduate of Antioch College, is author and editor of Washington Decoded, an online publication. He is writing a history of the Warren Commission for Alfred A. Knopf publishers, a manuscript which received the J. Anthony Lukas Work in Progress award in 2001. He is a contributing editor to The Nation and the Wilson Quarterly, and sits on the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence. Holland is also the author, editor, or co-author of six books, most recently Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat (University Press of Kansas, March 2012) and Blind over Cuba: The Photo Gap and the Missile Crisis (Texas A&M University Press, September 2012).

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