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NYT: Biden’s Final Order on JFK Files Raises Suspicion

July 27, 2023

The Following Report below was released by the New York Times on July 24. I include it here today for RoundTable Discussion purposes that is conducted in the attached video.

~~~Linda Forsythe

July 24, 2023 ~ By PETER BAKER New York Times

WASHINGTON – On June 22, 1962, an intelligence official drafted a memo summarizing a letter intercepted between Lee Harvey Oswald and his mother. The memo was made public long ago.

But for 60 years, the name of the letter opener was kept secret.

Now it can finally be told: According to an unredacted copy of the memo released recently by the government, the official who intercepted Oswald’s mail for the CIA in the months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated was Reuben Efron.

And that means … what, exactly? A tantalizing clue to unraveling a complicated conspiracy that the government has sought to cover up for decades? Additional proof that the CIA knew more about Oswald than initially acknowledged? Or a minor detail withheld all this time because of bureaucratic imperatives irrelevant to the question of whether Oswald was the lone gunman on the fateful day?

The mystery of Efron, who has been dead for three decades, may never be resolved to the satisfaction of some of those dedicated to studying the assassination.

Thirty years after Congress ordered that papers related to the killing be made public with limited exceptions, President Joe Biden has declared that he has made his “final certification” of files to be released, even though 4,684 documents remain withheld in whole or in part. Going forward, agencies will decide any future disclosures that may be warranted by the passage of time.

Biden’s certification, issued at 6:36 p.m. on the Friday before the long July 4th holiday weekend, when it would not draw much attention, has frustrated researchers and historians still focused on the most sensational American murder of the 20th century. But they suffered a setback on June 30 when a federal judge refused to block Biden’s order.

Jefferson Morley, editor of the blog JFK Facts and author of several books on the CIA, said the belated identification of Efron indicated that intelligence agencies still had something to keep from the American public.

Why did name stay secret?

“If they hid this guy’s name for 61 years and they’re still hiding other stuff, I would say they’re still hiding sources and methods around Oswald,” Morley said. “Why else did the name remain secret for 61 years? The CIA is trying to slam the door now, and Biden’s gone along with this.”

From the other side of the spectrum, Gerald Posner, author of “Case Closed,” a 1993 book concluding that Oswald killed Kennedy on his own, said he doubted there was a smoking gun in the remaining files.

“Everyone is focused on the CIA documents still withheld,” he said. “What we have learned from the CIA files released this year is that they either have nothing to do with the assassination, or are only tangentially related.”

Although he and Morley diverge on the historical evidence, Posner agreed that Biden’s decision was “an abrogation of responsibility under the 1992 law” mandating the documents’ release. Trust in the government being what it is, he said, the public will never accept official reassurances that there is no stunning revelation in the papers.

“I don’t think that’s there,” he said, “but you’ll only know when you have all the files available.”

The intense interest in Kennedy conspiracy theories prompted Congress to pass the 1992 law mandating that documents related to the assassination be released within 25 years except those that could do “identifiable harm” to national security that outweighs the value of disclosure. When the deadline arrived in 2017, President Donald Trump, who has dabbled in conspiracy theories about the assassination himself, bowed to pressure from intelligence agencies to grant more time.

After taking office, Biden signed two memos doing the same.

Of roughly 320,000 documents reviewed since the law passed, 99% have been disclosed, according to the National Archives and Records Administration. But 2,140 documents remain fully or partly withheld as a result of Biden’s action, officials said, while another 2,502 remain withheld for reasons outside the president’s purview — such as court-ordered seals, grand jury secrecy rules, tax privacy limits or restrictions imposed by people who donated papers — and 42 for a mix of both.

A vast majority of excluded documents have actually been released but with certain parts redacted, officials said, including names of people still living, addresses, telephone or Social Security numbers, or locations of intelligence facilities.

Officials said they were confident that none of the withheld information would change the essential understanding of the assassination.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation, already suing the government over the files, sought an injunction against Biden after his latest order. But U.S.
District Judge Richard Seeborg rejected it and dismissed other parts of the original lawsuit, although he allowed some claims to proceed.

Simply unfathomable’

Lawrence Schnapf, a foundation lawyer, denounced Biden’s action. “It is simply unfathomable to me that a man who has a bust of RFK in his office and who voted for the law would cave in to the incredulous claims of the national security bureaucracy that 60-year-old records pose such a risk to national security that they cannot be released,” he said.

As it happened, Efron died Nov. 22, 1993 — the 30th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.
His wife has died, too, and he had no known children.

“People say there’s nothing significant in these files?” Morley said. “Bingo! Here’s the guy who was reading Oswald’s mail, a detail they failed to share until now. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think it’s suspicious.”