Friday, August 17, 2012

History of File Destruction of US Secret Service Records

Date : 07/09/97
Page : 1



RECORD NUMBER : 154-10003-10065


TO :

DATE : 12/16/74


12 – 16 – 74

History of File Destruction in the Intelligence Division

At the time of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, no Protective Research Section cases had been destroyed. White House cases were initiated in 1932 with WH-1 and they ran through 1950 to WH-50809. Chief’s Office cases were initiated in 1950 with CO-2-1000, and in November 1963 had reached CO-2-34000. “ (The Assassination of President Kennedy was given CO-2-34030). There were also some CO cases and 5-P cases still existing. These latter two file designators had been used sparingly since 1937 for some PRS cases. It is estimated that in November 1963 there were 35,000 file jackets in existence.

These files were considered either active or inactive. Active files were in file cabinets in PRS. Inactive files were located in three other locations: the Federal Records Center in Alexandria, Virginia; the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri; and the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York. As subjects of prior record became active after having been in an inactive status, their files were returned to PRS.

In addition to file jackets, the PRS manual index in November 1963 contained approximately 500,000 index cards.

These index cards served as both a file locater and a record of investigations conducted for which there were no file folders, nor even reports, in existence. For example, index cards were made for all persons who telephoned the White House, were referred to PRS, and who were then evaluated as innocuous.

Following the assassination of President Kennedy, PRS was reorganized. One of the first projects was a complete review of the files and the master index in the section. All files which did not contain investigative reports were destroyed as were all index cards relating to that file. (At that time many files contained letters or telegrams only and the subjects had not been investigate). At the same time all files were recalled from the Federal Records Center and were reviewed, using the same criteria. By 1965, when the Intelligence Division moved to 1800 G from the Executive Office Building, the initial review was completed. Approximately 15,000 files were destroyed and the subjects’ names deleted from our index. Other deletions from the master index reduced its size to approximately 250,000 index cards.

In 1966, two special reviews were conducted. All files were recalled from the Truman Library (approximately 8,000) and reviewed. Approximately 1,000 of these files were reactivated and 7,000 destroyed. Also, the Kennedy assassination file was reviewed. This file consisted of some 5,000 subjects whose names had been recorded as a result of the extensive federal investigation of the case. Most of these names had no connection with the assassination and the names were deleted from our indices.

Although our reviews since the assassination in 1963 had enabled us to destroy many cases, during this same period we were establishing many cases as a result of the increased amount of material sent to us by other agencies, mainly the F.B.I. As a result o the Warren Commission criticism of both the Service an the F.B.I. for not exchanging intelligence and for not having a working liaison, most of the material sent to us by the F.B.I was retained and tiles were opened on numerous subjects who fit the profile of “another Oswald.” By 1967, we had added approximately 20,000 files as a result of establishing cases after review of material furnished to us by the F.B.I.

During 1967 we reviewed the entire file again to determine which cases would be transcribed for inclusion in the then new computer system. At that time all cases in which insufficient data had been obtained were either destroyed or referred to the field for completion of the investigation. A review of the master index was also made during this year and the master index was finally purged of all extraneous material, so that only index cards relating to existing file jackets remained.

Since the reorganization of PRS, we attempted to refer for investigation all information which we received if we decided to retain the information permanently in our files. However, in the early days of the Intelligence Division it was not possible to do this. Thus, we established an “innocuous file” (C0-2-39700) in which reports or letters were maintained but no investigation had been conducted by this Service. This file was reviewed annually and cases were destroyed, but it continued to grow until at one point the file consisted of 7,000 case jackets. This file was reviewed and eliminated entirely in 1970 and the number (CO-2-39700) is presently used for aircraft overflights exclusively. Our position since 1970 is that, exclusive of 650.0 information which is filed temporarily and reports from other agencies handled by the Special Intelligence and Foreign Branches, all material is referred for investigation before it is retained permanently.

In 1970 the entire CO-2 file was reviewed. We looked at subjects 60 years of age and older. If they had not shown any interest in our protectees since 1960 we destroyed the file but retained the computer record. We also looked at all cases in which the subject, regardless of age, had shown no interest subsequent to 1950. These cases were destroyed and the computer record retained.

Starting in 1971 we began a review of those cases which had been established as a result of reports received from the F.B.I. All right-wing files which reflected the subject had not been active for the past two years (since 1969) were destroyed and the computer record maintained. All left-wing files in which there had been no activity for the previous five years were destroyed. Computer records for each of the above categories were retained.

In 1972 we again reviewed the CO-2 file, using criteria established in the 1970 review.

In 1974 the criteria for reviewing the reports in the Special Branch were changed. A review of all groups was initiated and those cases in which subjects had not been active within the past two years were destroyed. Those cases in which there were incomplete reports were not only destroyed but were also deleted form the computer record.

As of this date we estimate approximately 7500 (WH cases) are stored in the FDR Library in Hyde Park. These cases are not part of the computer record.

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