Testimony of Steve Tilley

Los Angeles, California -- September 17, 1996
Mr. Steve Tilley. Mr. Tilley has been from the beginning the Review Board's liaison at the National Archives. He is the caretaker of the JFK Collection and he is going to provide for the Review Board an update on the contents of the Collection. And in the past has provided very helpful information for the Board. Welcome Steve and thank you.


National Archives, Caretaker of the JFK Collection.

MR. TILLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's always a pleasure to appear before the Board.

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 gave seven specific responsibilities to the National Archives, but for the purposes of today's discussion I will touch on the three that are the most important for the research public.

First, within 45 days of the statute being signed, the Archives was required to prepare and make available standard identification forms used by all government offices in describing assassination records. Furthermore, the Archives was required to insure the creation of a database for identification forms to serve as an electronic finding aid to the Collection. This database has been available since the Collection opened for research in August of 1993. It currently contains over 175,000 identification forms, and as of last February is available for research via the internet. I have with me some blue book marks which we have had published at the Archives and we've had them available out on the table and this gives the internet address for the Collection for those who want to research it via the internet.

I want to emphasize that the database does not contain the actual text of documents. The database consists of the record identification forms created by each agency as the documents were reviewed. Secondly, the database has not been updated to reflect decisions made by the Review Board and other changes in the status of some documents. The National Archives is currently working on that issue and we hope to be able to start updating the database within a few months.

My second responsibility was to establish the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection. On December the 28th, 1992, the National Archives established the Collection by an announcement published in the Federal Register on December the 21st of that year. This announcement also solicited open assassination records from all federal offices for inclusion in the collection. As established on that date the Collection consisted of open records already in the custody of the National Archives including the Warren Commission, the Secret Service, the criminal division of the Department of Justice, a portion of the CIA's 201 personality file on Lee Harvey Oswald and donated records from several presidential libraries.

A third responsibility, which we shared with other government offices, was to identify, review and make available to the public all assassination records that could be disclosed under the provisions of the law within a 300 day review period. All records reviewed during this period were required to be entered into the database and have a record identification form attached. At the end of the review period the newly released records were made available, including the remainder of Oswald's 201 file, the first portions of the CIA segregated collection of related assassination records, the records of the House Select Committee on Assassinations and records of several DOJ components, although none from the FBI.

The first records of the FBI were transferred in December of 1993 beginning with the headquarter and field office files on Jack Ruby. Since then the FBI has transferred records relating to Lee Harvey Oswald, Marina Oswald, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, Sam Giancana, Marie DeLorenz, Carlos Marcellos, Santos Trafficante, and many other individuals and subjects. We are scheduled to receive approximately 40 additional boxes of FBI records on Friday of this week. My understanding is that those records particularly apply to Johnny Rosselli and additional files at the FBI are also under review.

The CIA made additional transfers of records in September and December of 1994 providing the remaining portions of the segregated collection. The records transferred in September related primarily to the CIA's work with the Cuban exile groups in the early 1960s, while the latter transfer of consisted of the notes taken by HSCA staff members during its review of CIA documents. I must point out, however, that only a portion of the Oswald 201 file and the notes of the HSCA staff members can be searched in the database. The CIA has run into difficulty with their program for creating data disks and we are waiting for the transfer of the remainder of these data disks for their records.

The Collection includes the assassination related records of the Church and Pike Committees. While we have 41 boxes of Church Committee records, a review of the Committee's published report and certain Committee documents indicates that there are additional assassination related records still in the custody of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. There have been contacts with the staff of the Committee to pursue this issue. The data disks of the records are still in our custody having been recently transferred and we plan to add them to the database shortly. We have recently identified assassination records among the records of several Congressional Committees already in our custody. The records of the Senate Internal Securities Sub-Committee of the Senate Judiciary Committee contain transcripts of executive session testimony and other documents relating to Ruth Paine, General Edwin Walker and the Fair Play For Cuba Committee. The records of the House Unamerican Activities Committee contain a variety of files on several individuals along with files on the Fair Play For Cuba Committee.

The records of the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, known as the McClelland Committee, may contain assassination records. The index of these records remains in the custody of the Senate Committee on Government Operations. But a sampling of entries under Carlos Marcello and Santos Traficante produced references that indicate the probability of assassination relation documents among the records of the Committee.

Finally the records of the Sub-Committee on Government Information of Individual Rights of the House Committee on Government Operations, known as the ASZUG Committee, contain documentation concerning access of records to the Warren Commission and the Kennedy autopsy materials. We are working with the staffs of the various committees to add these relevant records to the Collection. In the last year there have been some significant additions to the Collection. In 1995, the Secret Service turned over the shift reports of the agents protecting the President for November, 1963. Earlier this year the Service released records from the files of Chief James Reilly plus documents relating to the organization of the Service for the years 1961 and '62.

In October '95 the State Department released additional documents from the passport office. In April of this year NARA received one cubic foot, approximately 2,500 pages, of the Rockefeller Commission and the staff of the Ford White House from the Ford Library. These documents were released as a result of a review of the records of the Rockefeller Commission and the Ford White House staff by a CIA team which spent a week at the library. The remaining records of the Commission are still under review by the CIA and other agencies.

There are also acquired records donated by individuals under deeds of gift. The papers of Jim Garrison and Edward Wegmann were donated to the Collection after the public hearing in New Orleans. In July of this year motion picture film taken in Dallas on the November the 22nd, 1963, was donated by Janet Veazey and Helen Sturgess Anderson.

A great deal of material remains under review by various agencies. The FBI continues to review related documents and the criminal division of the Department of Justice is currently reviewing the previously withheld portions of that office file on the assassination. We have yet to receive any records from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The Postal Service indicated last year they were almost ready to transfer a file on the investigation of the sale of Oswald's rifle through the mail, but we have not received that file at this time.

Various components of the Department of Defense continue to locate and review documents related to the assassination. For example, we recently located at NARA the files of the Secretary of the Army related to Operation Mongoose. While these records were legally transferred to NARA in 1995, when the Kennedy Act was signed into law in 1992, these records were in the custody of the Department of the Army were not located.

A team of CIA and other reviewers recently visited the Kennedy Library in Boston to review the National Security files related to Cuba and other related topics. We hope to receive the results of this review in the near future.

And if I may answer a couple of questions that were raised previously in the hearing, Mr. Chairman. First of all, all executive sessions transcripts of the Warren Commission are now released and available. And also at this time all documents created by the staff of the Warren Commission are available for research with no redactions. The remaining records of the Warren Commission that are closed, are all created by other agencies and some of them are still going through that 30-day review process. And I'm willing to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Tilley. Are there any questions for Mr. Tilley?

DR. NELSON: How many documents would you say are now there to be plowed through?

MR. TILLEY: It's hard to say.

DR. NELSON: A couple of million?

MR. TILLEY: A couple of million. A couple of million, yeah. We probably have more than 175,000 records in the database as we continue to add things. But of course the database only reflects the documents that were reviewed since the passing of the statute. It doesn't reflect those documents which were open which was a considerable amount of material. So we have a great number of documents available.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you very much, Steve. Thank you for your continued help.

MR. TILLEY: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: It's been a very interesting and provocative hearing this morning with testimony. I think the Review Board has certainly heard very good advice from quite a number of people. I do want to particularly thank James Rankin, Wesley Liebeler and David Lifton for their donations of records and physical material. That information will be very helpful to the American public.

We are going to hold the record open from this hearing for a period of time in case there's additional testimony that anyone wishes to submit. What day will it be open --

MR. MARWELL: October 11th.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: It will be open until October 11th. So, any additional testimony the Board would be very pleased to accept.

There being no further business to come before the Assassination Records Review Board today, is there a motion to adjourn?

DR. HALL: So moved.

DR. JOYCE: Second.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: All of those in favor of adjourning say aye.



(No response.)

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: It's carried. This meeting of the public hearing of the Assassination Records Review Board is adjourned.

(Proceedings in the above-entitled matter concluded at 1:05 p.m.)

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