JFKRA Release 6: Replacing files at NARA

This post continues a discussion of the sixth release of JFKRA records from NARA. This time I will look at a quirk of release 6 that I call replacement files.

As I noted a while ago (here and here), in releases 1-5 there were a number of records listed twice in NARA’s spreadsheet of documents posted on line.

These came in two varieties. In one set there were actually two files posted at NARA: one from release ‘A’ and one from release ‘B’, both files presenting the same document, but with various differences between them (see the earlier posts for a discussion).

In the second set, the same record was listed twice, but each listing referred to the same file, so there was only one file posted. I had thought this was simply an error on the part of the spreadsheet editor(s), but release 6 now has me wondering.

In fact, release 6 has 45 instances of this type of duplication, as listed in this link.

For each of these instances, I had already downloaded the file prior to the posting of the release 6 files. When release 6 was posted, however, I discovered that these 45 files had changed; and were now different from the files I had downloaded earlier. The earlier versions of these 45 files are no longer available on the NARA site.

How to describe this situation? Let’s just say that NARA replaced the older versions with newer versions. Since I had downloaded the earlier versions, I was able to compare them with the newer versions that replaced them. This post summarizes what I found.

Type 1: markings changed, text unchanged

In some cases, the new version is actually a new scan; in other cases, it seems to be the same scan, but is marked differently. This sort of thing is, well, unfortunate. I am sure that no one intended it would be necessary to engage in the study of what bibliographers call ‘accidentals’ (physical variations in a printed work, as opposed to different wording) when reading the JFKRA releases, but there you are.

One way to denote these different versions is to look at the ‘case #’ of the file. The case # can appear in two or three places. Some files have a stamp with the case number on it (usually preceded by boilerplate text reading something like ‘Released under the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992’ etc.) In other cases there is no stamp, the case # may be added in the header or footer of the file.

In 38 of the 45 files that were replaced, these case #’s either changed, or the earlier version had NO case # and the release 6 version has added a case #, so this is a convenient way to distinguish them. These differences are all indicated in the table linked to above. In one case, the case # was the same, but one file had a stamp and the other didn’t. Other than this kind of ‘accidental’, these files are the same. Why then replace them? Ask NARA.

Type 2: markings unchanged, text changed

For 6 of the remaining 7 files the case # did not change. In these files, however, the text changed, with redactions in the earlier versions removed in the later versions. Since the point of this whole exercise is to release more complete versions of the documents, I don’t think there will be too many complaints about this.

The problem with this method of silently replacing early versions of files with later versions is that some people may worry that NARA could get cold feet, and replace an unredacted version of a document with a redacted version.

I am reasonably sure that NARA has not gotten cold feet, but there is one case where this actually happened: RIF # 124-90035-10121 (docid-32144601.pdf). The current version has a redaction that was not there in the earlier version which I downloaded on November 19.

What did the earlier unredacted version say? Send me 5 dollars US by PayPal and I’ll tell you. (Kidding, just kidding.)

The redacted version reads:

Enclosed herewith for the Bureau are two copies of cover page B, pages 1 and 5 and for PG three copies of pages 1 and 5 and two copies of cover page B. The amendments were made necessary by the fact that on 1/12/60 [three lines blanked out]

The redaction is footnoted “JFK Law 11(a)” which is the exemption for IRS records. However, the earlier version shows that the words deleted were as follows:

PLATO CACHERIS turned over to SA PENNYPACKER additional checks of ESCO which included salary checks of WEINHEIMER and checks to other persons on behalf of WEINHEIMER which are pertinent to the report and Agent’s work papers.

This has nothing to do with information from the IRS, it was information given to SA Pennypacker (the author of both the report and this memo) by Plato Cacheris. I find this citation of JFK 11(a) quite dubious, and I’ll complain about it in a minute.

First, though, what is this obscure item talking about anyway? A sort of summary of the story is here. Edward Weinheimer, who apparently “fixed” union problems for people, was charged with perjury for claiming he wasn’t paid to fix problems for a company called ESCO, when he really was. Plato Cacheris was a DoJ attorney who was working the case.

Why this text was removed, retroactively, is very hard to understand. Citing JFK 11(a) is just not reasonable. Other JFKRA documents on this case were released by NARA here and here. Why weren’t they redacted as well? I don’t understand.

Regardless, however, I await my gold citizen’s badge for exposing this coverup. What? What’s that? What does Weinheimer, or ESCO, or Pennypacker, or Cacheris have to do with the assassination of President Kennedy? What a question! Even a simpleton such as me knows the answer to that! And if you send me 10 dollars US by PayPal, I’ll tell you.

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