Sunday, October 15, 2017

Notable Theftes From the National Archives

Notable Thefts From The National Archives


Robert Bradford Murphy and Elizabeth Irene Murphy-1963

On January 2, 1963, forty-five year old Robert Bradford Murphy (aka Samuel George Matz) and his wife, Elizabeth Irene Murphy age thirty-one, were arrested in Detroit and indicted on two counts for transporting from Cincinnati to Detroit stolen documents taken from a number of repositories, including the National Archives and Records and Records Service (NARS). Robert Murphy visited NARS in August 1962, where he examined and stole documents in the research room from the files of the Department of Justice, the War and Navy Departments, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal records. Murphy worked during the evening hours in the research room when only two staff members were present. He also stole documents charged out by other researchers when they left the room for a break. The Murphy's were both sentenced to ten years in federal prison.

Charles Merrill Mount-1987

Fifty-nine year old Charles Mount, an art historian and portrait painter, was arrested in 1987 for stealing documents from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and Library of Congress. When Mount offered to sell a Boston bookstore owner a collection of Civil War documents, including three letters written by Abraham Lincoln, he became suspicious and contacted the FBI. Agents were waiting to arrest Mount when he delivered the documents. FBI officials later uncovered a safety deposit box belonging to Mount filled with other stolen documents. In 1989, Mount was charged with stealing 400 documents and sentenced to five years in prison. Mount died in 1995.

Shawn Aubitz-2002

Forty-five year old Shawn Aubitz, a curator with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)-Archival Operations Branch-Philadelphia, was charged on February 12, 2002, by federal authorities after he stole hundreds of documents and photographs, including signed presidential pardons. The loss of documents was discovered in March 2000, when a National Park Service employee notified the National Archives that a possible item from its holdings was for sale on eBay. Aubitz served 21 months in a federal prison and paid more than $73,000 in restitution.

Sandy Berger-2003

Fifty-eight year old Sandy Berger, the former National Security Adviser under the Clinton Administration, illegally took classified documents from the National Archives on more than one occasion. During his visits to the Archives, it was determined that Berger folded the documents in his clothes, walked out of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., and placed them under a nearby construction trailer for retrieval later on. Two years later Berger was sentenced  to 100 hours of community service and probation and fined $50,000. He also also had to pay $6,905 for the administrative costs of his two-year probation. Berger also lost his security clearance and license to practice law. 

Howard Harner-2005

Sixty-eight year-old Howard Harner was sentenced to two years in prison, two years' probation, and fined $10,000 in 2005 after pleading guilty to stealing more than 100 Civil War-era documents from the National Archives And Records Administration (NARA) over a six-year period. NARA was tipped off to the thefts when a researcher was browsing Civil War memorabilia on eBay and noticed an auction for a letter dated June 4, 1861, signed by Lewis A. Armistead, a U.S. Army officer at the time. The researcher had examined the exact letter at the National Archives 10 years earlier. An investigation revealed that Harner stole documents signed by Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, and George A. Custer by concealing them in his clothing. Harner told investigators that he cut the signatures off of some documents and sold them separately.


Denning McTague-2006

Forty year-old Denning McTague was an unpaid intern at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Archival Operations Branch-Philadelphia and pleaded guilty to stealing 164 Civil War-era documents in 2006. The documents related to the Frankfort Arsenal in Philadelphia, which McTague had been arranging and organizing in preparation for NARA's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. He used a legal pad and backpack to sneak the documents out of the archives and put most of them up for sale on eBay. A Civil War book publisher notified NARA when he became suspicious of some of the items on the auction site. McTague was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined $3,000.

Les Waffen-2011

Sixty-seven year old Les Waffen worked for forty years at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), much of the time in the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to theft of 955 items from NARA, including original recordings of the 1948 World Series and a rare recording of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. NARA was tipped off when some of the recordings he stole were placed for sale on eBay and a potential buyer recognized them as items he had donated to NARA in 1999. Waffen was sentenced to 18 months in prison and two years of supervised release for embezzling U.S. property.

Thomas Lowry-2011

Seventy-eight years old Thomas Lowry, a psychiatrist and long-time NARA researcher and author, confessed on January 12, 2011, to altering an Abraham Lincoln Presidential pardon for Patrick Murphy, a Civil War soldier in the Union Army who was court-martialed for desertion.

Lowry admitted to changing the date of Murphy’s pardon, written in Lincoln’s hand, from April 14, 1864, to April 14, 1865, the day John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. Having changed the year from 1864 to 1865, Lowry was then able to claim that this pardon was of significant historical relevance because it could be considered one of, if not the final official act by President Lincoln before his assassination.

On January 12, 2011, Lowry agreed to be interviewed by an OIG agent and Mitch Yockelson and in the course of the interview, he admitted to altering the Murphy pardon to reflect the date of Lincoln’s assassination in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2071. Against National Archives regulations, Lowry brought a fountain pen into a National Archives research room where, using fade-proof, pigment-based ink, he altered the date of the Murphy pardon in order to change its historical significance.

This matter was referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution; however the Department of Justice informed the National Archives that the statute of limitations had expired, and therefore Lowry could not be prosecuted. The National Archives, however, has permanently banned him from all of its facilities and research rooms.
  

Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff-2011

On July 9, 2011, sixty-three year old Barry Landau and his co-conspirator Jason Savedoff, twenty-four years old, were arrested at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore on suspicion of theft. Two search warrants were conducted on Landau's New York apartment by federal agents and over 10,000 historical documents were removed and sent to the National Archives and Records Administration for analysis. Among the stolen items were seven "reading copies" of speeches that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered that contain his edits and handwritten additions, along with his signature. They were stolen from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, which is part of the National Archives. Savedoff spent one year and one day in federal prison, while Landau was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

Case of Missing History

CASE OF THE MISSING HISTORY


By Joseph A. Slobodzian January 8, 1998

A treasure trove of Philadelphia's cultural heritage pilfered over 10 years from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania -- 200 relics ranging from a lock of George Washington's hair to the flintlock rifle abolitionist John Brown used at the siege of Harpers Ferry -- has been recovered by the FBI from the home of a suburban electrician.

For 10 years, federal authorities alleged last week, a Rutledge electrical contractor and history buff named George Csizmazia bought items stolen from the Historical Society's storage room by Earnest Medford, until recently a longtime society janitor.

Authorities allege that Medford sold the artifacts to Csizmazia for about $8,000, allowing the electrician with a passion for history to amass a collection of historical treasures officials valued at $2 million to $3 million.
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Meanwhile, federal investigators and society officials said they were searching for up to 100 other items discovered to be missing last year when the society first computerized its 12,000-artifact inventory.
"This must never happen again," said Susan Stitt, Historical Society president, during a news conference.
Although an FBI affidavit filed this week alleged he has admitted purchasing the stolen items from Medford, Csizmazia maintained his innocence during an interview at his home.

Csizmazia, 56, a stocky gray-haired man with a neatly trimmed mustache, said he did not know he bought stolen artifacts: "I am as shocked and surprised as anyone else. I didn't know it was stolen until the FBI came. . . . I bought some hot stuff, and I ended up being charged. I'm really upset about it."

Medford, 48, of Trainer, Pa., could not be reached, and his federal defender, Eric Vos, said it was too soon to determine what Medford's defense might be.

Federal officials said that among the 200 relics removed from Csizmazia's two-story home and garage were the three historic ceremonial swords and long rifle whose theft was discovered last November from the society's Center City headquarters, setting off a probe by police and the FBI.

Both men were released on $100,000 bail Tuesday by a federal magistrate after being charged with theft of culturally significant historic artifacts.

Bob C. Reutter, head of the FBI's office in Center City, Pa., said Csizmazia and Medford surrendered to the FBI Tuesday morning.

In front of Reutter, covering about 30 feet of conference tables, was a stunning spread of items illustrating Philadelphia's history from Colonial times to the present: silver trophy cups and servers, swords, rifles and handguns, scores of pocket watches and medals from the Mexican-American, Spanish-American and other U.S. wars, eyeglasses and cigar holders, and telescopes and other scientific equipment.

Not only was there the rifle taken from John Brown in 1859 when he was captured by U.S. troops with 21 other abolitionists who took over the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., but there was a case containing a lock of Brown's hair.

Along the rear of the tables were municipal awards galore, large silver trophy cups including one early 19th-century cup from city officials to Frederick Graff, designer of the Fairmount Water Works, as well as the 1967 Philadelphia Award made to former mayor Richardson Dilworth.

U.S. Attorney Michael R. Stiles took pleasure in holding aloft a gold snuff box that New York officials gave to Andrew Hamilton, the model for the term "Philadelphia lawyer," commemorating his successful 1735 defense of John Peter Zenger, a New York printer and editor charged with libeling the Colonial governor of New York.

The case helped establish freedom of the press and the legal defense against libel but left Zenger broke, forcing him to pay Hamilton with a gift of his snuff box, which the gold replica commemorated.

Stiles said Congress had made the theft of important historic artifacts a federal crime in 1994 because such relics "educate us in a way that mere words and books cannot."

Investigators located the missing collection only through the most circuitous route.

According to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Robert K. Wittman, he and fellow agent Michael A. Thompson went to Richmond on Nov. 15 to interview people attending the Great Southern Weapons Fair, considered the largest Civil War weapons show in the eastern United States. At the fair, the agents interviewed Bruce Bazelon, a weapons expert for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and author of a book on Pennsylvania presentation swords.

Bazelon told the agents, the affidavit continued, that in 1994 a Poconos flea market dealer had shown him a photo of 10 antique swords by a potential seller -- one of which looked like a sword that he knew had been in the society's collection.

Agents contacted the Poconos dealer and were told that the photo belonged to Csizmazia.

On Dec. 23, the affidavit alleges, the agents questioned Csizmazia and the electrician admitted "he had been receiving antiques taken from the {Historical Society} during the past 10 years." Stitt, the Historical Society's president, and federal authorities Tuesday tried to put the best face possible on what was an embarrassing moment for the society.

Stitt said the society's administration was "shocked and saddened that this was done by one of our own family, a 20-year staff member." Medford was fired shortly after he was contacted by the FBI.
Stitt said the thefts were the result of "under-capitalization and underfunding of this society for 107 years."

She said that donors to the Historical Society too often wanted their money used only for public displays and exhibits rather than such mundane items as staff or security. "Unfortunately, it's easier to pay for the sizzle than the steak," Stitt said. "Here we have some very important steak." CAPTION: FBI agent Bob C. Reutter displays a sword and other items that were stolen from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.


Museum Crooks

Museum Crooks ‘Dis-Art-ened’ by Ex-FBI Agent



By Richard Carreño


As an ex-FBI special agent based in Philadelphia, Bob Wittman’s presence at a former crime scene isn’t unusual. The site, at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, across from Penn’s Franklin Field, might raise more than a few skeptical eyebrows, however.

As Wittman recounted last week, the Penn Museum, in 1991, was in fact the site of one of the boldest art heists in memory. And solved.

That solved part, according to Wittman’s retelling of his derring-do as Federal Bureau of Investigation’s first, full-time art crime investigator, is what distinguishes some monster art thefts from others. Just a year earlier, in Boston, thieves walked off with some Rembrandts, a Vermeer, and five sketches by Degas from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a private treasure house that’s akin to the Barnes Foundation. Quirky, defiant in its nontraditional showcasing, and a total reflection of its founder, Boston Brahmin Isabella Gardner.
The stolen Gardner museum art, valued at a jaw-dropping $500 million, dwarfed the Penn Museum theft, merely pegged at $500,000. (Wittman had a huge hand in working the Gardner case, as well).

Yet, some walls at the Gardner are still bare; Mrs. Gardner, ever the grande dame, ordained that only art she personally collected could grace her townhouse and gallery.

At Penn, on the other hand, museum administrators are still exuberant that their stolen objects, a 19th century Chinese crystal orb and a 5,000-year-old bronze of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead, are back in their rightful places.

Anyway, according to the 54-year-old Wittman, who retired last year after 20 years as one of the world’s most prominent art sleuths, stolen art isn’t about monetary value. It’s about stealing history and a culture’s patrimony. All great art and historical artifacts are, in a word, ‘priceless,’ says Wittman, who was signing copies of his recently published memoir as a globetrotting art hunter. (He now runs his own suburban Philadelphia security firm, catering to art museums and insurance companies).

The book, published by Crown, is titled, not surprisingly, Priceless.

Wittman, founder of the FBI’s Philadelphia-based Art Crime Team, was sitting, appropriately enough, in front of the 45-pound crystal orb that he recovered, now reinstalled in its original place of honor in the museum’s rotunda. (A glass case, ahem, is new).

Just minutes before, Wittman was regaling a packed audience on how the orb was discovered and how that find again proved the rightness of one of his favorite investigative dicta, ‘Better to be lucky than smart.’ (Another is, ‘You can’t make this stuff up.’)

A burly six-footer, Wittman looks cop. Still, with a ready smile and infectious laugh, you can also see how Wittman over the years, while hunting stolen pieces from such disparate parts as Paris, Miami, New Mexico, and—one of his favorites—the New Jersey Turnpike, could finagle the confidence of the bad guys he was dealing with.

He also has an unpretentious, street-smart demeanor. (That aspect is marvelously captured in the ‘voice’ you hear when reading Priceless, thanks to Wittman’s co-author John Shiffman, a Philadelphia Inquirer Washington-based reporter).

Wittman got his start in art recovery by happenstance, as a rookie agent in 1988. Again, it was a Philadelphia institution, the Rodin Museum branch of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Stolen was Rodin’s iconic piece, the Mask of the Man with the Broken Nose. Besides being his first art case, the heist was remarkable for being the only one of the scores he’s been involved wherein a firearm was discharged. (No one was hurt).

The sculpture was recovered, following a tip. Better to be lucky than smart.

From there, thinking that art investigations might be a whole lot more interesting than busting an endless stream of drug dealers, Wittman decided to get a bit smarter about fine art—the difference between Manet and Monet, for starters—by enrolling in an enrichment course at the Barnes Foundation. (Wittman’s hagiographical appraisal of Albert Barnes, in the book is a passage, by the way, you can skip).

From there, too, starting in 2005, he developed the Art Crime Team, based in Philadelphia and now with 13 agents tackling what Wittman described as a $6 billion, illegal worldwide trade in art and antiquities. Why Philadelphia? For no other reason than that was where Wittman himself was posted and where he relied on officials of the Penn Museum, the Barnes Foundation, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art as resources.
According to Wittman’s tally, his investigations reclaimed more than $225 million in stolen goods. Cases were as far-flung as Europe, Philadelphia (the Pennsylvania Historical Society an the National Constitution Center also figure in his tale), and yes, the Jersey Turnpike, where in 1997 he negotiated for the ‘purchase’ of a 2,000-year-old indigenous Peruvian ‘backflap’ in solid gold. (This, too, was recovered, and was returned to Lima—after its only American public viewing at the Penn Museum).

And to Trenton, where thanks to a yet another tipster, he found the crystal orb, in the bedroom of a self-described witch. The woman had covered it with a baseball cap, thinking that ‘glass ball’ was worthless. You can’t make this stuff up.

In all, Priceless is an insightful look into the mechanics of art theft investigation.

Wittman puts the lie to any glamorous notions regarding art thieves. Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief? Pierce Brosnan in the Thomas Crown Affair? Hardly. In reality, they’re loser types, pumped up with ‘beer muscles.’
Is art stolen on commission? he was asked. Sure, said Wittman. But generally, not by rich art patrons. The wealthy can afford the real thing. At the end of the day, Wittman noted, insurance companies are the ones ‘holding the bag.’

Other maxims seem intuitive, though not always adhered to. One example hit home. Many years ago, while as editor at a Massachusetts daily, the house of the newspaper’s owner was robbed of more than a dozen French Impressionist paintings. The cop shop reporter filed the story, and we scheduled the straightforward report as an above-the-fold Page 1 story—that is, until the paper’s managing editor spiked the story.

The ME was being too politic by half. The next day, the heist story ran with a banner head. To hinder resale, the owner’s insurance company in fact encouraged widespread publicity. And the ME was taken to the woodshed by the paper’s publisher.

Rewards? These can cut two ways, according to Wittman. Sometimes they draw out a glut of wannabe tipsters, clogging the investigation with dead-end leads.

‘Stuff’ like this is revealing and riveting. When Wittman—cum Shiffman—dabbles into Wittman’s personal and family life, things start to lag. Some gaffes also fall through the cracks. Repetition runs rampant. The Revolutionary War financier is Robert Morris, not Roger Morris. Also, the book would have been a much better resource if an index had been included.

That said, you can’t make this stuff up. And Wittman didn’t.

Wittman has another talk scheduled at 7:30 pm June 22 at the main branch of the Free Library, 1901 Vine Street. Admission is free.


(Richard Carreño can be reached via Writers.Clearinghouse@com

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Additional Missing JFK Assassination Files

I will add these to the Master List of Missing JFK Assassination Records that I will prioritize and present to former Assassinations Records Review Board Chairman Judge John Tunheim, who requested this list when I met with him at the CAPA Press Conference at the National Press Club in March. 

Peter Dale Scott to Dear John (Newman), 

I have not thought much about Vietnam since 2008, when I published a revised version of The War Conspiracy with a new section on NSAM 273. Can I count on you to add to the list of records missing at the National Archive the minutes of the Honolulu Conference of Nov. 20, 1963?  I consider this omission (even the fact of it) extremely important, not just for understanding the JFK assassination, but for understanding U.S. history.

I was hoping in fact that you might supply a complete list of missing records on Vietnam from late November 1963. For example: The documents about the Honolulu Conference in the FRUS 1961-1963 Volume make no reference to North Vietnam. The first FRUS record to do so is FRUS Doc. 327 [SECRET]. Memo of Conversation Between Hilsman and Lodge, Nov. 24, 1963, 10 AM.[1] 

A SECRET/EYES ONLY second version follows as Doc. 328. There was also a third version, as we learn from this footnote 2 to Doc. 327: “2. Because of different distribution limitations, Hilsman made three separate memoranda of this conversation. The second is infra; the third was not declassified.”[2]

Has it since been declassified? Do you discuss this in the new version of your book? (I confess I have not looked at it yet, but will do so if your answer is yes.) Are there more missing records of this importance?

Above all, will you take on the job of compiling this list? I will be happy to help, but I am not up to speed and in addition now have bad eyes.

I do think this is an important project, not because I think we can make the documents appear, but so we can help make this sleeping nation more aware that America has a deep history.

Peter

[1] U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol IV, 632, Doc. 327. Memo of Conversation Between Hilsman and Lodge, Nov. 24, 1963, 10 AM, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/pg_632.

[2] U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol IV, 632, Doc. 327. Memo of Conversation Between Hilsman and Lodge, Nov. 24, 1963, 10 AM, fn. 2

Peter Dale Scott


There is a whole file which, as I told the ARRB in 1994, should be considered am assassination record. It is the FBI’s Mexico City file MX 105-2137. Let me begin with the Board’s explanation of why this file, brought to their attention by me, was not seen by them:

“The Review Board also sought to determine whether the FBI maintained a file in Mexico City on a "Harvey Lee Oswald" under the file number 105-2137. The Mexico City Legal Attache (Legat) opened a file on Lee Harvey Oswald (105-3702) in October 1963 following Oswald's visit to Mexico City. Some of the documents in the Legat's file contain notations for routing records to a file numbered 105-2137, and were captioned “Harvey Lee Oswald.” One researcher conjectured that this file would predate the Lee Harvey Oswald file. 105-3702, and might lead the Review Board to other FBI documents on Lee Harvey Oswald. In response to the Board’s request, the FBI searched its Legat's files for a file numbered 105-2137 and captioned "Harvey Lee Oswald," but it did not find such a file.”[1]

The report accurately summarizes my conjecture: Bill Turner had assured me that new FBI file numbers were in chronological order, in which case MX file 105-2137, dealing with “Harvy [sic] Lee Oswald,” would antedate considerably the alleged Oswald visit to Mexico.

But my public testimony to the Board, the only occasion I ever had to communicate my “conjecture,” does not (as recorded on the ARRB website) contain any reference to it. Indeed
it is almost nonsensical, and when clear it is misleading.  

“I want to suggest to you that the FBI may have been tracking all of this in a file which I am quite sure has never been seen by the Warren Commission, never been seen by the House Committee, and never certainly seen by me or by the Archives today. I have found a reference to it in a cover sheet which I am going to leave with you. It is Mexico City FBI File 105-2137, which is then struck out and replaced by a different file number with a different name, Lee Harvey Oswald. I hope you will pursue that original file.”[2]

There are many deliberately garbled records in this case. This appears to be one of them. I am absolutely certain that at the time I not only shared my “conjecture,” but drew attention to the anomalous name, ”Harvey Lee Oswald.”

In fact, the cover sheet mentioning this file is available from the Mary Ferrell Foundation website. It is NARA RIF 124-10029-10270, FBI serial MX 105-3702-254. It is from “Wesley” [SA Howard D. Wesley], has the title “Information re Allegations re Oswald case,” and (apart from still classified cross-file references) contains only this reference: “105-2137, [corrected manually in ink to “3702”] (Harvy Lee Oswald).” (It makes no reference to “Lee Harvey Oswald.”)[3]

Forty-five years ago, I discussed how the FBI by mutilating a photograph of General Walker’s back yard, reproduced as Warren Commission Exhibit 5 (16 WH 7), in order to obliterate the licence plate of a car belonging to their informant, Charles Klihr. Pressed by the Warren Commission to explain the hole, another FBI report reported that the car belonged to a “CHARLES F. KILHR,” [sic]  and added that the Dallas FBI files “are negative concerning the name CHARLES F. KILHR” (Warren Commission Exhibit 1351, 22 WH 586). In like fashion, when the French asked the United States to hand over a major war criminal in their protection, Klaus Barbie, U.S. army intelligence officers pretended ignorance by maintaining files on him in the name of Klaus Barbier.[4]

It is not too late to ask for the FBI’s file MX 105-2137, withoutspecifying whether it was captioned “Harvey Lee Oswald,” “Harvy Lee Oswald,” or something else. If not illegally destroyed, the file should be absurdly easy to find -- between files 105-2136 and 105-2138.

P.S. Bill, are you persuaded by this argument? Or should I add how "Harvey Lee Oswald: records keep turning up from all over (see my Deep Politics Two, pp. 142-46). Last night, for example, I found this one from CIA in 1972.

CIA MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD: SUBJECT - HARVEY LEE OSWALD
NARA Record Number: 104-10209-10001

Harvey Lee Oswald

1. Today the DC/CI Staff advised me that the Director had relayed via the DDP the injunction that the Agency was NOT, under any circumstances, to make inquiries or ask questions of any source or defector about OSWALD.

2. I will arrange to have the questions about Oswald sent to SB/CI for use with the
defector Oleg Lyalin returned to me and will advise C/SB/CI of the injunction.

                                                                                                6 April 1972


[1] Final Report of the Assassinations Records Review Board, pg 81

[2] ARRB Public Hearing, Washington DC, 11 Oct 1994, p. 36,

[3] At the time I did not know who Wesley was. But other FBI “Harvey Lee Oswald” records identify him as SA Howard D. Wesley, then at the FBI Mexican branch office in Monterrey.

[4] For the public facts, and subsequent U.S. apology, see Stuart Taylor Jr., “U.S. Says Army Shielded Barbie; Offers Its 'Regrets' To The French,” New York Times, August 17, 1983, http://www.nytimes.com/1983/08/17/world/us-says-army-shielded-barbie-offers-its-regrets-to-the-french.html?mcubz=3

Peter Dale Scott

Dan Alcorn notes: Joan Mellen reports that the Bruce-Lovett Report on the CIA is missing from RFK's files at the JFK Library.

Malcolm Blunt: Gerry Hemming Church testimony. Oreste Pena Church testimony......FBI espionage "65" File on Oswald,(they deny they had one)Correspondence between Office of Security (Bruce Solie and David Slawson during WC "investigation"..... Werbell tape erased only tape counter survives not the transcript.....second part of Bruce Solie HSCA Security Classified Testimony (might surface in the October release).....full debriefs of INS and Customs officers at the Department of Justice following their testimony to the Church committee(all missing) (single page precis only in Robert Keuch files)..4 boxes of unedited witness depositions sent to NARA in April 1965 by the Office of U.S. Attorneys....RG 118....only fragments of this "no good testimony" survive,bits of Ruth Paine etc.....nothing like 4 boxes,I asked a NARA archivist to search for the 4 missing boxes and gave her the Accesion number...nada, zero, nothing......and accession numbers are supposed to be the Holy Grail in order to find stuff at NARA......there's more Bill, I will think on.....best, Malcolm

Bill Simipich: Here's missing documents logged by the ARRB.  Below is the backstory, Alan Dale has posted it on the AARC website.  Bill

Mexico City Station to Headquarters (September 26–30, 1963);
Headquarters to Mexico City Station (September 26–30, 1963);
JMWAVE to Headquarters (September 26–November 21,1963);
Headquarters to JMWAVE (September 26–November 21, 1963); 

and all traffic between the Mexico City Station and JMWAVE for the periods September 26–October 20, 1963 and November 22–December 30, 1963. A CIA Tutorial:  How to Avoid Providing Files
-- With the October releases coming up, we should keep in mind what the ARRB has already told us we will not find.

For those of us who research the Mexico City story, it has always been very frustrating to find that there is no organized way to find the cables and dispatches between Mexico City and Headquarters, or between these two entities and JMWAVE in Miami, except within carefully circumscribed dates.  

What we have run into amounts to a CIA tutorial on how to avoid providing information that is mandated under the law.

As shown below, the listing of files for JMWAVE begins on November 21, and the listing of files for HQ and Mexico City begins on October 1.  Very unhelpful for putting together the Oswald story, as well as the events prior to the assassination in Miami.

But not all of the files are missing.  A number of the files within this timeframe do exist - simply in a less organized format.  Many memos are tucked away in various other files, such as the files on Cuban consul Eusebio Azcue in CIA microfilm, Reel 2.

In fact, it is probable that most or all of these files could have been provided by the CIA if they had simply cross-indexed the files within their own Records Integration Division. 

The National Archives has the duty to index the files themselves, and send a demand to the CIA for the missing files.  The Act is in effect until "the Archivist certifies to the President and the Congress that all assassination-related records have been made available to the public in accordance with this Act."

This is yet another reason we need a new JFK Records Act with stronger enforcement powers.
From the ARRB Final Report in 1999:

The Review Board determined that, while much of the Mexico City Station cable traffic
existed in the JFK Collection, the traffic contained numerous gaps, particularly in communications between Mexico City and the CIA Station in Miami, JMWAVE.

The Review Board deemed these gaps to be significant because both CIA stations played roles in U.S. operations against Cuba.

The cable traffic that the Review Board reviewed in the CIA’s sequestered collection commences on October 1, 1963, and contains the earliest known communication—an October 8, 1963, cable—between the Mexico City Station and CIA Headquarters concerning Lee Harvey  Oswald.
In 1995, the Review Board submitted a formal request for additional information
regarding the above-referenced gaps in CIA cable traffic. CIA did not locate additional
traffic for the specified periods. CIA completed its response to this request in February
1998 explaining that:

In general, cable traffic and dispatches are not available as a chronological collection and thus, for the period 26 through 30 September 1963 it is not possible to provide cables and dispatches in a chronological/package form.

During the periods in question, the Office of Communications (OC) only held cables long enough to ensure that they were successfully transmitted to the named recipient. On occasion. . .cables were sometimes held for longer periods but not with the intention of creating a long-term reference collection.

The Review Board was not able to locate cables or dispatches from the following periods:
Mexico City Station to Headquarters (September 26–30, 1963);
Headquarters to Mexico City Station (September 26–30, 1963);
JMWAVE to Headquarters (September 26–November 21,1963);
Headquarters to JMWAVE (September 26–November 21, 1963);
and all traffic between the Mexico City Station and JMWAVE for the periods September 26–October 20, 1963 and November 22–December 30, 1963.

In addition, CIA informed the Review Board that it did not have a repository for cables and dispatches from stations in the 1960s.

Although originating offices maintained temporary chronological files, the offices generally destroyed the temporary records in less than ninety days.

After the assassination, the Office of the Deputy Director of Plans ordered relevant CIA offices to retain cables that they would have otherwise destroyed.  The HSCA used the remaining cable traffic to compile its Mexico City chronology.

Had CIA offices strictly applied the ninety-day rule, there might have been copies of cable traffic commencing as early as August 22, 1963, rather than October 1, 1963, available to CIA on November 22, 1963.

https://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/review-board/report/chapter-06-part1.pdf

PDS: Oswald's full ONI file makes reference to classified ONI and Marine G-2 files that never reached the Warren Commission. I discuss this in Dallas '63.

(Didn't Oliver Revell come to the FBI with Marine records on Oswald?)

The first military Intgc group to consult LHO's State Dept file was OSI. No trace of that visit survives.

And the the full ONI file cites a document opening the discharge case against LHO, that the Schweiker-Hart subcommittee asked the Pentagon  for. The appeal went up to I believe Cheney in the Ford White House and stopped there, as far as we know.

Malcollm: Bill, recently came aross when revisiting LHO Security files the following.... in 1976 when the CI Staff were reviewing JFK Assassination related and Oswald files the security office did not hand over their "secondary files" on Oswald,ostensibly these were their research files,so the HSCA never got these and more importantly neither did another CIA component,the Counterintelligence Staff.....demonstrates perfectly to me the description tagged to the Office of Security,"they are like a whole separate agency".......best, Malcolm

Larry Haapanen:  Not to make the list too long, but here are some recommendations that come readily to mind:

Airborne radio log for Air Force One for 11/22/63.

White House Situation Room Incoming-Outgoing Message Log for 11/22/63-11/30/63 (the extant log for November 1963 ends abruptly on morning of 11/22/63).

Records of the Dallas-based 488th Military Intelligence Detachment (Strategic) and 349th Military Intelligence Detachment (Counter-Intelligence) -- for example unit histories and unit rosters -- from 1962-63.

Records of the FBI wiretapping of Lee Harvey Oswald while in police custody.

Bill Simpich: Records of the FBI tapping of Marina Oswald (and almost definitely the Paines on 11/22/63 and thereabouts, see statements of Irving police chief Paul Barger)

Missing WHCA records for 11/22 and other relevant dates

Missing Secret Service tape for 11/22 and a host of other SS documents.   Among other things, the records for Miami, Tampa, Chicago and Dallas in Sept-November.

Missing FBI dispatch tape of Dallas calls on 11/22 (we know Odum called in about the rifle 1:30-2 pm)

Missing 134 (FBI informant) records

Missing NSA and Army Intelligence, and ONI records, as mentioned in ARRB Final Report

Missing LILYRIC (Soviet embassy photo records, Sept 63); LIFEAT (wiretap records, all of 1963), the daily resumen (wiretap summary) kept in 1963, and a host of missing Mexico City documents.

Missing Church Committee interviews as detailed in office memo.

Malcolm Blunt: U.S Customs in MIami refused to hand over their Cuban exile records to the HSCA because they were quote,"too voluminous" ...and said they would need instructions from H.Q. in any case..by the time Ron Haron and the ARRB got round to asking U.S. Customs for their JFK related files.....Customs were unable to locate next to nothing.. now adays.go to NARA and ask for the JFK U.S Customs files and you get one grey file box containing just a few documents....a disgrace, an absolute disgrace...the ARRB should have pressurised those people into doing a proper search.......if anybody wants to get some idea of what was lost to research they should call up the Alexander Rorke FBI files at NARA and take a look at U.S Customs documents forwarded to the Bureau....they are always packed full of detail...hardly a space on the page......sickening,just sickening....

I think this is a very useful exercise;making me cast my mind back....maybe we should also include and amplify the egregious destruction of records by government agencies ....the Secret Service has to be high on this list with the destruction of trip records whilst the ARRB sat and also the huge cull of JFK assassination files by James Mastrovito on instruction from Rowley,circa 1966.....all this is not coincidental IMO; the hiding of the Oswald Army Intelligence files from the Warren Commission and their later "routine destruction" is another huge loss;it's really a miracle we have anything left....additionally will the FBI be releasing any further material from their 89a DL files?.....last time I looked these files only went up to 1993 when they were monitoring a conference in Dallas...further and later releases may contain further monitoring of JFK conferences in Dallas plus names of sources and informants (redacted of course) Bill, how about the missing Oswald New Orleans court records;Anne Buttimer of the ARRB tried to get these and was told that they were accidentally destroyed......supposedly sent for microfilming ......

The Dept of Justice OLC had a pile of documents excluded from the Warren Commission,I found a memo about it...sent a copy to the ARRB (nada,nothing) I also asked NARA archivist Steve Tilley to chase it,again nothing.....more stuff lost in the shuffle......

John Armstrong: Bill,nice list of missing items. You might also want to include the following:

1) employment records of LHO collected by the FBI from the Pfisterer Dental Lab have disappeared

2) Stripling Junior High (Ft. Worth) records of LHO's attendance in 1954, collected by the FBI, have disappeared

3) the "original" US postal money order, allegedly used to pay for the MC rifle, has disappeared

4) documents relating to LHO's discharge from the Marine Corp in March, 1959, reviewed by asst Provost Marshall William Gorsky at El Toro, CA., disappeared

5) LHO's Texas drivers license (and file), seen and handled by numerous employees at the TDPS, disappeared

6) the Oswald wallet, produced by Capt. Westbrook at 19th & Patton and shown to officers and FBI agent Barrett, was last seen in the hands of Capt. Westbrook.

7) film taken of anti-Castro Cubans training in Louisiana, which also showed Oswald, has disappeared

8) all original NYC school records disappeared while in FBI custody. Only photographs remain in the National Archives.

9) FBI file on LHO in NYC from Sept, 1961- March, 1962

10) interviews by Epstein of US Marines, who knew LHO in Japan, kept for years at Georgetown University, are now missing

11) complete files of LHO's  attendance at radar school in Keesler (2 files with two different numbers; two different graduation dates; two different class numbers, etc)

12) Marine Corps unit diaries for LHO at El Toro, CA from December, 1958 thru March, 1959

13) Interviews by John Hart Ely of Marines who knew LHO at El Toro, CA are missing

14) all employment records of MO from 1955 thru 1963

15) SS records for MO and LHO - 

This a partial list, which I compiled from memory in about 20 minutes. I am sure there are more