Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Assassination and Mrs. Paine-The "Secret Files"

Max Good's award-winning film ends with the following dramatic claim reminiscent of Oliver Stone's JFK:

But Robert Reynolds, a professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at National Chi Nan University in Puli, Taiwan and an expert on the JFK Assassination Records Collection, looked into Good's claim. He told me in an email about his methodology (Reynolds' quotes are in green):

"I looked for the total number of files related to the Paines that are still withheld or redacted. My basis for this was the most recent update of the JFK database from NARA (May 2021). Here's how I looked for Paine-related files. I checked records where the title, subject, series name, comments or "file number" fields had the string "PAINE" anywhere in them. I then checked the same fields for the names "HYDE" (Ruth's family name), and for "HOKE" (the family name of Ruth's brother-in-law, John Hoke, who married Ruth's sister Sylvia). I also did the same for the name "Bielefeldt," a CIA employee who was apparently a friend of John Hoke's father. Finally, I checked FBI records for all docs with the case file numbers for Ruth Paine (105-126128) and Michael Paine (105-126129)."

Note that Reynolds omitted any tax-related files from his analysis since these are not subject to release by law. What was the result of Reynolds' research?

"I found lots of records using the name Paine, but only one document with the name Paine which still had redactions. This was a 12/05/63 memo. There are several copies of this memo in the ARC, here is an example. There is only one name redacted in this memo, someone on the CIA's Counterintelligence staff who provided info to the FBI about Ruth's father which they obtained during a 1950s investigation. That's it. For the name Hyde, only the 12/05/63 memo mentioned above came up with redactions."

"For the name Hoke, one more relevant record came up in the updated JFK database. Ruth's brother-in-law John Hoke applied for a position at the CIA and his application papers are in the ARC. This doc is a poor quality copy, but we can see that Hoke was not hired. The only redactions in this record are the names of a couple of CIA staff members who reviewed his application."

"Searching on the case file numbers for the Paines, there are four FBI records still redacted; three on the Paines' 1964 tax returns and one on their 1957 tax returns. These are redacted, not withheld in full according to the JFK database, so some of this material may be accessible. All the other records with the Paine case file numbers are released: 'open in full'."

"After my original post [to a JFK email group], I also found three more records relating to John Hoke that still have redactions, but which did not turn up in the Paine/Hyde/Hoke searches. These are 104-10120-10303 to 10305. These are all requests from CIA technical services to consult with Hoke, who at the time was employed in the Agency for International Development. To talk to him, they had to first get approval, and on these three forms the name of the person(s) who approved the request to consult with Hoke is redacted."

"Total: Ruth Paine: one document (multiple copies) has one name redacted. Michael Paine: zero documents redacted. John Hoke: four docs have CIA employee names redacted. All other documents for the Paines which are still redacted/withheld are tax related" (emphasis added).

My thanks to Robert Reynolds for his work on this matter. It would seem that Max Good should provide either links to the "dozens" of files he claims are "classified" or issue a clarification or retraction.

Addendum 1: Robert Reynolds just (6/4/22) sent me the following:

It has gone over my head all this time that the final screen of the Max Good film ends with a claim that "dozens of files related to the Paines remain classified." It is worth underlining that while the Paines' tax returns in the JFK collection are withheld from the public, they are NOT classified. ALL individual tax returns are withheld from the public, as mandated in the U.S. federal tax code. This has nothing to do with security classification (emphasis in original).

Addendum 2 (6/4/22): There has been talk on Internet forums about "other" documents besides those in the JFK Collection that remain unavailable to researchers. Robert Reynolds answered these concerns:

Two possible answers. They may be thinking of documents which are NOT held in the JFK collection at NARA. I can't say anything about those. It's a big world out there with lots of paper in it to write things down on.

IF they are thinking of documents in the JFK collection, that is a different story. The collection is known. It is numbered like the tribes of Israel in the Book of Numbers. Not every word in the collection is accessible to the public, but every word IS accessible to the people at NARA who have charge of the collection. (None of these people work for the CIA.)

What is not accessible to the public? There is a lot of confusion about this. There are documents withheld and documents missing and documents redacted. 515 records in the Collection are withheld. In full. With the exception of the Manchester interviews with JBK and RFK, all of these docs have been seen multiple times by the WC, the HSCA, the ARRB and those lucky dogs at NARA. They are almost all tax records.

There are 33 records in the collection that are "missing." There is a page up at NARA on these. If you believe NARA, nothing Paine related is there. If you don't believe NARA, please explain why. But you have to buy me a six pack of beer first.

NARA also says there are 14,236 records with redactions in the collection. People need to get this straight. These records are OPEN to the public in copies that have bits blanked out. Almost all of these were put online 2017-2018. You can look at them any time. I've looked at all of the CIA ones, some of the FBI ones. It was incredibly boring. The blanked bits are for the most part single names or locations. There is nothing there on the Paines. The bit blanking leaves more than enough context to show this. Look for yourself.


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