Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bill Kelly's 2018 Dallas Presentation Synopsis


It’s an honor to be the first speaker and open the conference and I’m glad I’m not going after John Newman, because that will be a hard act to follow.

I think this may be a Last Hurrah, at least for me as I think that the emphasis on research and investigation should shift from Dallas to DC, as that’s where the evidence and records are at the Archives and where we should have a Congressional Briefing on the JFK Act and get Congress to hold official oversight hearings on the destroyed, missing and illegally withheld records.

I think Peter Dale Scott's Negative Template thesis is correct, and the most important records have been destroyed are missing or otherwise kept out of the JFK Collection at the Archives, but they don't even know what is significant to us today, and there are some very significant records being released. 

As for a brief history of the JFK assassination records, it might be best to start at the beginning, when the Warren Commission was wrapping up its work and their records were to be sealed for 75 years. When the mayor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa heard that he wrote a letter to President Johnson saying that the records should be released to the public or there would be a loss of confidence in the government, something that happened anyway.

Despite objections from Commissioner Allen Dulles and National Security advisor McGeorge Bundy, LBJ agreed and ordered the Warren Commission to release the 24 volumes of supporting documents, sparking Dulles to say, “Go ahead and release them, nobody will read them anyway.”

But some people did read them, and discovered that the Commission’s own records didn’t support their conclusion that the assassination was the work of one man alone, and produced important writings and books by the first generation of critics – Joshia Thompson, Sylvia Meagher (who also compiled an index to them), Mark Lane, Harold Weisberg, Howard Roffman, Fletcher Prouty and Penn Jones. 

Then, after the New Orleans Grand Jury and trail of Clay Shaw, there was a lull in the action until the Church Committee’s Schweiker-Hart subcommittee investigated the intelligence agency’s involvement in the assassination, when Gaeton Fonzi first got involved after being hired by Senator Richard Schweiker (R.Pa.). 

At the end of that limited investigation Schweiker said that “there are fingers of intelligence” all over the assassination story, and the cover-up was like “a house of cards” that would come tumbling down.
The Senate Church Committee’s report led to the establishment of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that was at first led by Philadelphia prosecutor Richard Sprague, who had previously prosecuted those responsible for the murder of the president of the United Mine Workers Union. Sprague tried to conduct a real murder investigation, and brought on New York City prosecutor Robert Tanenbaum to run the JFK investigation and hired Fonzi as well.

Unfortunately Congress didn’t want a real homicide investigation and because of the antics of Rep. Gonzales (D. Tx.), who was in the motorcade and took LBJ’s clothes and washed them before they were turned over for evidence. Sprague was fired, Tanenbaum resigned and Fonzi was marginalized. Instead of real investigation the second chief counsel G. Robert Blakey, who had established a center for the study of organized crime at Cornell, and wrote the RICO act used to prosecute mobsters, said that the job of the committee was to produce a report, which they did.

Then they sealed the HSCA records away for fifty years, with Blakey quoted in the press as saying, “I’ll rest on the judgment of historians in fifty years.”

The first chief counsel Richard Sprague took all of his personal files with him, so they are not, even today, among the records in the JFK Collection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and open to the public as they should be.

While Blakey may have been satisfied with the judgment of historians in 2028, I wasn’t about to wait that long, so I co-founded the Committee for an Open Archives (COA) with my college mate John Judge, who first got me interested in the assassination as a subject of historical study in 1969 by giving me a copy of the Playboy magazine with the interview with Jim Garrison.

One day John and I visited the old original National Archives building on Pennsylvania Avenue, with the statute outside that reads: THE PAST IS PROLOGUE – a quote from Shakespeare.

There I asked to see some of the JFK assassination records and was introduced to Mr. Marion Johnson, the first curator of the Warren Commission records. I had previously sent a letter to the archives asking about George DeMohrenschildt’s 8 mm home movie of his walking trip through Central America that included a stop at the Guatemalan base where the CIA was training the anti-Castro Cubans for the Bay of Pigs. Johnson wrote back saying that film was not among the Warren Commission records, although there are references to it.

I asked Mr. Johnson why the HSCA records were sealed for 50 years? Why not 35 or 75? And he replied that, “Fifty years was the estimated amount of time that those individuals mentioned in the documents would be dead.”

Well then we wouldn’t be able to interview them and learn if the documents are accurate or not.

In addition, Mr. Johnson pointed out, Congress didn’t include itself as responsive to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, so that was not a legal recourse. The only way to get the HSCA records he said was to get an Act of Congress, a very difficult thing to do.

So our Committee for an Open Archives grew to a few dozen activists who met in Washington on occasion throughout the 1980s and visited all of the Congressional offices but failed to garner any interest in freeing the JFK assassination records. Nobody would even talk to us.

Then Oliver Stone produced his movie “JFK,” which was garnering a lot of mainstream media attention. One day, as a small group of researchers ate lunch in the Senate cafeteria after a public hearing, including John Judge, Jim Lesar, Peter Vea, John Newman, Peter Dale Scott, Gus Russo and Congressional investigator Kevin Walsh. Someone noted that at the end of the movie Executive Action, they ran a trailer that listed the strange deaths associated with the assassination. It was suggested if we could get Oliver Stone to run a similar trailer at the end of his movie, it could instigate public opinion to release the sealed HSCA records. And when John Judge and myself suggested that to Stone when we met with him, he said Kevin Walsh had already suggested it, and he agreed. And that it did.

Congressmen were so indulged by an avalanche of public outcry, wondering why the assassination records were sealed, that they called Senator Specter and G. Robert Blakey and had them write the JFK Act of 1992. But instead of just releasing the HSCA records, they expanded our request to ALL of the government records on the assassination be released to the public immediately, and those withheld for reasons of national security be released IN FULL within 25 years of the signing of the law, something we didn’t even anticipate. The law was passed unanimously by Congress – when does Congress do anything unanimously? And it was reluctantly signed into law by then President George H. W. Bush the first, but Bush added a rider to the bill that stipulated the president of the United States, and ONLY the president, whoever he or she may be on October 17, 2017, could continue withholding certain records indefinitely.

Well that day came and went and despite President Trump’s multiple tweets that he would release all of the assassination records, the CIA and his Chief of Staff General Kelly USMC, persuaded him to continue withholding tens of thousands of records in full and redacted.

Well, as the day of determination approached, the NARA released many thousands of documents in groups of batches that we are still going over, and while there are no “Smoking Guns” among the records released so far, there are many “Smoking Documents,” some of which I will mention in my list of the Top Ten Smoking Docs.

And now, despite the President’s continued withholding of records for at least another few years, I am more confident than ever that we will be able to solve the assassination of President Kennedy to a legal and moral certainty for a number of reasons.

For one, there is a new District Attorney in Dallas who appears to have an open mind and is open to persuasion, and is capable of convening a local Dallas Grand Jury.

For another, the House of Representatives is now controlled by Democrats, and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee can schedule a public hearing on the JFK Act that could investigate the destroyed, missing and wrongfully withheld records on the assassination.

And now, I will list my Top Ten Smoking Documents before my esteemed colleagues – Dr. John Neman, Malcolm Blunt and Bill Simpich will have a few words to say before they make their own presentations later in this conference.

NEXT: My Top Ten Smoking Documents 


William Kelly said...

Richard Booth Great presentation. Look forward to seeing those smoking docs. Thank you for your work, I think you are on the right track with Carl Jenkins and like the optimism you show in this presentation. "We're figuring it out" -- indeed

William Kelly said...

HL Arledge Excellent, Bill. Thanks

William Kelly said...

Jessica Shores Ahhh so good, Bill! Thank you!!!

Don Jeffries said...

Hey Bill,

I saw Peter Lemkin's re-post of your excellent synopsis on DPF. I am stunned to learn that Jimmy Fallon is interested in this subject. He would be about the last celebrity I'd guess would fall into that category. Can you elaborate, please? Thanks!