Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Judge Tunheim on the Moscow and Mexico City Assassination Records

The Moscow KGB and Mexico City CIA Records on the Assassination of President Kennedy

By William Kelly

In his CAPA Sunshine Week talk at the National Press Club in March, Judge John Tunheim, the former chairman of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) called attention to the Russian KGB files on Oswald that he saw in Minsk and read in part, but was unable to obtain copies of for the JFK Collection at the National Archives (NARA).

Tunheim also said that the Review Board was pressed by almost every agency of government to keep the records relating to Oswald in Mexico City withheld because of the special relationship the US government had with the government of Mexico.

As Tunheim noted, the situation has changed considerably since the ARRB went out of business, the Cold War is over, and President Trump’s relationship with Russia might allow for the public release of Oswald’s extensive KGB file of his time in the Soviet Union.

America’s relationship with Mexico has also changed, there is a new government in power and the special relationship the US government is different than it was fifty years ago, so there is no real reason to keep those records secret.

In his CAPA Sunshine Week talk at the NPC Tunheim said of the KGB files:

 Tunheim:  “There are some documents I want to see out - the KGB file. I was there – I came very close to getting a copy of that file. It stands about five feet high when piled on top of each other – they are fascinating –and detail what Oswald did when he was in the Soviet Union. They are all in Russian but I had some read to me. Norman Mailer was there earlier than me and had some released to him, he bought some of them, and I offered to pay to make copies, but our relationship with Belarus got worse and worse and I couldn’t get them out of there. I would like to get them out. There is a full copy in the Kremlin as well. The original was sent to Belarus – when the Soviet Union broke up the KGB files were sent to the primary area of origin rather than kept in Moscow.”

       “Speaking of KGB files, there is a huge cache of KFB records in Moscow dealing the assassination of President Kennedy. Back at the time the Russians were concerned, everyone agrees there are a lot of files because there was strong suspicions that they were involved, so they had what everyone agrees was a pretty extensive investigation. I didn’t get any help from the State Department despite they were required to by law, they didn’t assist us.”

        “We had some help from Vice President Gore got some records from the Prime Minister. (But) My attempts over there didn’t work – I had the US Ambassador with me, but there was no indication that the government supported me, so I didn’t get the support I needed, and they knew my government didn’t support me so they weren’t going to give me anything."

      “I often got questions in return to my question – ‘What is your time frame on the records,’ and they would say, ‘What makes you think we have records in the files?’ I’d got a question back from them.”

        “I’d like to see that, that will probably come out, so researchers have access to that, we paid someone to keep negotiating that, but nothing really happened with that, though I thought they would be very helpful.” 

Of the Mexico City records Tunheim said:

“One more example I thought of is there’s a bunch of stuff related to Mexico City, largely related to our relationship with the Mexican government, and we received a full court press – not only from the State Department but the CIA and other agencies as well, not to release because it was thought be detrimental to our relationship with the Mexican government at the time. I guess we don’t have much of relationship with the Mexican government today (laugh) – It doesn’t matter anymore – but the political party in charge then  is no longer the controlling  party in Mexico today.”

      “So our Cooperation with Mexican Government during that time, and intelligence activities in the 1960s – there’s no real reason to protect that anymore. So that is a good example of a larger group of material that should come out.”

The Soviet KGB records on Oswald in Russia that were given to Norman Mailer are now in the possession of his former assistant Lawrence Schiller, who refused to relinquish them or copies to the ARRB.

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