Monday, March 26, 2018

D-Day for Continued Secrecy of JFK Assassination Records

It''s D-Day for the Archivist of the United States David Ferriero, who must inform the President today - Monday March 26, 2018, what government records on the assassination of President Kennedy should remain withheld from the public, as required by the JFK Act and the President. 

Image result for David Ferriero AOTUS
AOTUS David Ferriero and the Constitution 

The Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero is responsible for recommending what JFK Assassination Records should be continually withheld, as set forth in this Presidential Memorandum. 

It was issued on October 26, 2017 -  the day that the The JFK Act of 1992 stipulated that all government records on the assassination of President Kennedy be released in full, twenty five years after the resolution was unanimously passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Herbert Walker Bush. 

President Bush however, included a rider that gave the President - and only the President the authority to authorize continued withholding of records beyond that date. And after tweeting repeatedly that he would release all the records, after pressure from his chief of staff former US Marine Gen. John Kelly, President Trump issued the following Memorandum          
On October 26, 2017 - President Trump issued 
SUBJECT: Temporary Certification for Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

The American public expects -- and deserves -- its Government to provide as much access as possible to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records (records) so that the people may finally be fully informed about all aspects of this pivotal event. Therefore, I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted. At the same time, executive departments and agencies (agencies) have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. I have no choice --today -- but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our Nation's security.

To further address these concerns, I am also ordering agencies to re-review each and every one of those redactions over the next 180 days. At the end of that period, I will order the public disclosure of any information that the agencies cannot demonstrate meets the statutory standard for continued postponement of disclosure under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (44 U.S.C. 2107 note) (the "Act").

Accordingly, by the authority vested in me as President and Commander in Chief by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby certify that all information within records that agencies have proposed for continued postponement under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the Act must be temporarily withheld from full public disclosure until no later than April 26, 2018, to allow sufficient time to determine whether such information warrants continued postponement under the Act. This temporary withholding from full public disclosure is necessary to protect against harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.

I hereby direct all agencies that have proposed postponement of full disclosure to review the information subject to this certification and identify as much as possible that may be publicly disclosed without harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations.

Any agency that seeks to request further postponement beyond this temporary certification shall adhere to the findings of the Act, which state, among other things, that "only in the rarest cases is there any legitimate need for continued protection of such records." The need for continued protection can only have grown weaker with the passage of time since the Congress made this finding. Accordingly, each agency head should be extremely circumspect in recommending any further postponement of full disclosure of records. Any agency that seeks further postponement shall, no later than March 12, 2018, report to the Archivist of the United States (Archivist) on the specific information within particular records that meets the standard for continued postponement under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the Act. Thereafter, the Archivist shall recommend to me, no later than March 26, 2018, whether the specific information within particular records identified by agencies warrants continued withholding from public disclosure….


So here we are, Monday 26 March, 2018.

According to the JFK Act and the President’s Oct. 26 Memo, the agencies of government had to inform the Archivist of the US (AOTUS) David Ferriero what JFK assassination records they want continually withheld by March 12, the first day of Sunshine Week – celebrating, transparency, open government and shining a light into the dark corners of our history.

Two weeks ago the NARA said that it would take two weeks to process the requests, and now, two weeks later, we expect to know how many and which agencies requested records be continually withheld, how many records are being requested to be continually withheld, and when they will release those still withheld records that are not being requested to be withheld.

And by the end of the day – March 26, 2018, the NARA should be able to tell us what his recommendations are.

So the President, who is the only person with the ultimate authority to continue to withhold records passed the ball – or hot potato to the AOTUS – David S. Ferriero, who today will make his recommendations as to what JFK assassination records he thinks should be continually withheld.

Who is David S. Ferriero? According to the NARA web site he is a champion of open government.

David S. Ferriero was confirmed as 10th Archivist of the United States on November 6, 2009. Early in 2010 he committed the National Archives and Records Administration to the principles of Open Government—transparency, participation, and collaboration.

To better position NARA to fulfill these goals, Mr. Ferriero initiated an agency transformation in 2010. The transformation restructured the organization and set goals to further our mission, meet the needs of those who rely on us, and find new, creative ways to approach the agency's work.

Openness and access drive NARA's actions in a variety of ways. The agency has embraced a number of social media tools—Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Tumblr, and others—to reach a wider and broader audience. NARA uses this digital engagement as a two-way street. Early in his tenure, Mr. Ferriero celebrated the contributions of "citizen archivists," and he encourages public participation in identifying historical Federal records and sharing knowledge about them….

Previously, Mr. Ferriero served as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries (NYPL). He was part of the leadership team responsible for integrating the four research libraries and 87 branch libraries into one seamless service for users, creating the largest public library system in the United States and one of the largest research libraries in the world. Mr. Ferriero was in charge of collection strategy; conservation; digital experience; reference and research services; and education, programming, and exhibitions. Before joining the NYPL in 2004, Mr. Ferriero served in top positions at two of the nation's major academic libraries, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, and Duke University in Durham, NC. In those positions, he led major initiatives including the expansion of facilities, the adoption of digital technologies, and a reengineering of printing and publications. Mr. Ferriero earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from Northeastern University in Boston and a master's degree from the Simmons College of Library and Information Science, also in Boston. Mr. Ferriero served as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War.

Like me – the AOTUS is a blogger that he updates every few weeks. Here’s the last one he did on the JFK records, but he fails to tell you of the President’s directive to require him to be the middle man between him and the agencies that want records continually withheld.

According to the AOTUS BLOG from the day after the law required the release of all the records, and handed him the ball on recommending what should be continually withheld and what released, he wrote:

The National Archives released 2,891 records on Thursday related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that are subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act). These records are available for download online.

The President has also ordered that all remaining records governed by section 5 of the JFK Act be released, and thus additional records will be released subject to redactions recommended by the executive offices and agencies. NARA will process these records for release as soon as possible on a rolling basis.

Based on requests from executive offices and agencies the President has allowed the temporary withholding of certain information that would harm national security, law enforcement, or foreign affairs. The President also ordered agencies to re-review their proposed redactions and  only redact information in the rarest of circumstances where its withholding “is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

These instructions will allow the National Archives to release as much information as possible by the end of the temporary certification period on April 26, 2018. Following the release yesterday, our website saw nearly 44,000 active users, and our ten most active pages were related to the release of these additional documents.

So it isn’t a lack of public interest in the subject that is not mentioned at all on the NARA web site News, or total silence from their public affairs office.

By the end of this day they should be able to answer a few simple questions:

1)     How many agencies of government requested JFK assassination records be continually withheld?

2)     How many records were requested be continually withheld?

3)     When will the remaining withheld records not requested to be continually withheld be released?

4)     What did the AOTUS David S. Ferriero recommend to the President today?

5)     Why isn’t any of this on the NARA web site under News? 

NARA responded to my questions at 1 pm, Monday 26 March, 2018 with following email: 

""Mr. Kelly - NARA has no comment. We do not intend to issue a press release or hold a news conference at this time." 

The next significant date is Thursday April 26, 2018 when the President must decide what records will be continually withheld.  

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