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Assassination Records Review Board
open meeting, Sept. 9, 1998.
Prepared by Mr. Joe Backes
JOE BACKES: ...because that came from the Burke Marshall materials that are part of your exemption does that mean that the public will have to go to Burke Marshall to see them? You digitized them, I believe, I'm wondering how that plays out with the restrictions that Burke Marshall had, there was some language about not making copies and if you digitized them, you did, indeed, make a copy. And you transferred either the original photographs of that, what was thought to have been exposed film, and or the digitized copy to the National Archives. Does that mean any of this is an assassination record? And just the general issue of public access, will the public be able to see them? What's the status of that?
JUDGE JOHN TUNHEIM (Chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board): The digitized copies of the autopsy photographs were made with the express permission of Professor Marshall with the understanding that they would be a part of the same collection as the official photographs because they are indeed the same images as the official photographs. So they are at the National Archives and subject to the same restrictions that the original photographs are because of the provisions of our Act that...
BACKES: Right. Falls under you exemption.
TUNHEIM: ...falls under our exemption as autopsy material.
DEB REICHMANN (Associated Press reporter): Where did these photos come from though?
DR. ANNA NELSON (Board Member): X-rays of the autopsy (note: this is incorrect)
BACKES: They are all X-rays? Or were there...
NELSON: No, no, no
TUNHEIM: The photographs are digitized versions of the original color photographs that reside at the National Archives.
BACKES: But this is new, isn't it?
TUNHEIM: No. The roll of film was a, that looked to be either unexposed or overexposed--whatever.
TUNHEIM: No images were available on it, it was part of the collection at the National Archives...
TUNHEIM: ...we just took it and...
BACKES: But now you found that there are indeed images there.
TUNHEIM: There are indeed images there, so it was part of the original collection it just wasn't viewable before because of the exposure.
REICHMANN: So are you hopeful that you can see them?
BACKES: Do we have any idea what...
REICHMANN: What's on them?
BACKES: ...what they show? Or will we have to go through Professor Marshall and basically beg?
TUNHEIM: Well, they are there for qualified researchers who can convince Professor Marshall of the need to see them. And it was our attempt to try to clarify the evidence as much as we possibly could in that area.
KERMIT HALL (Board Member): Which is a substantial contribution in its own right, quite apart from public access.
BACKES: Oh, very much so.
TUNHEIM: But the access, he has granted access through the years.
BACKES: Yes, to few and far between.
TUNHEIM: to researchers...
TUNHEIM: ...and medical professionals and it will be available to those in the same fashion.
REICHMANN: What kind of photographs are they though? Or X-rays themselves?
TUNHEIM: No, they are photographs taken during the autopsy.
REICHMANN: Does this have anything to do with the second group of photos that we thought might exist?
BACKES: From Saundra Spencer?
REICHMANN: We still don't know?
TUNHEIM: Where those might be...
REICHMANN: That is totally different then...
TUNHEIM: Well, it's the same subject, it's just that those involve photographs that our depositions have established are missing.
REICHMANN: Right. Okay, and who took the ones that are thought to be exposed and that now have been digitized so that somebody could look at them? Who took those?
TUNHEIM: I'm not sure who took those. I don't know if we know. Do we know? (asks Doug Horne, a member of the ARRB staff. )
DOUG HORNE: There are three images, Chairman Tunheim and I don't think they are very significant.
BACKES: There are only three?
HORNE: Only three.
REICHMANN: Like three frames on a roll?
DOUG HORNE: Three frames and that's it.
REICHMANN: And who took them? Do you know?
HORNE: We don't know.
REICHMANN: Oh, okay.
HORNE: Because the format of the film...
NELSON: But there is nothing...
BACKES: Are they color or black & white? Or can you say?
NELSON: (repeats to Horne) Are they color or black & white?
HORNE: They are color. It appears to be a roll of film that is very much underexposed. So you really have to blast a lot of light through it. They look black to the naked eye until you put it in front of a bright light and that's what Kodak did. They filtered out some of the noise. So they are very grainy and very dark, as though the flash wasn't in sync or something.
REICHMANN: So those aren't helpful? They are not helpful?
TUNHEIM: It's really up to, I think, and we've taken the position that researchers who are qualified to look at these photographs will make their conclusions as to whether they are helpful or not. Our contribution was to try to do our best to get a sharper, clearer image of...
NELSON: I think it was a sense that we thought we might be the last chance.
NELSON: Even if, even, you know, even if there is nothing there, we are talking about the fact that no other group had taken upon themselves to do this. And Burke Marshall agreed.
(Note: Mr. Backes talked with Ms. Reichmann after this meeting. It appears the Board did depose Parkland personnel as they are awaiting transcripts. Ms. Reichmann told Mr. Backes that Dr. Jeremy Gunn did the depositions in a group session.)
TUNHEIM: We haven't seen transcripts yet, have we?
(unknown): I haven't received them.
TUNHEIM: We will release them shortly after we receive them and soon we will have to.
HALL: No later than three weeks.
NELSON: (laughs) You can be sure of that!
( The ARRB goes out of existence October 1, 1998. )
-tape side ends, side B begins -
TUNHEIM: We have not gotten the report yet from the National Security Council which apparently they are preparing now for us, but we have not gotten that yet.
REICHMANN: When do you expect to get that in?
TUNHEIM: Soon, I hope.
REICHMANN: Within three weeks?
TUNHEIM: Very soon, I hope.
REICHMANN: Yes, now everything is going to come out at the same time, the report...
NELSON: No, no, no, no. I think this will come out quicker than that.
TUNHEIM: The delegation, I think, just returned Sunday? This weekend anyway. And Monday being the holiday and yesterday being the first workday back, we just haven't heard back from them yet. We are expecting a report.
REICHMANN: Did it come up? Do you know if it came up?
TUNHEIM: Don't know. I suspect that it did. The level at which it came up on I'm not sure.
TUNHEIM: Yes. It is not in the courts yet. It is still a subject that is being handled by the Department of Justice. The issue of the compensation to the Zapruder family is really the issue right now. The taking has taken place. It was effective August 1st. So the film is essentially in government hands and the Zapruders have not yet been paid for it because an agreement on compensation has not yet been worked out.
BACKES: Any idea if that means there are going to be Congressional hearings?
TUNHEIM: I doubt it.
REICHMANN: Has the Justice Dept. agreed to arbitrate this?
TUNHEIM: They haven't reached an agreement with the Zapruders yet.
REICHMANN: I know that was on the table.
TUNHEIM: Yes, it is certainly one of the options that's being pursued. An agreement to arbitrate means that both sides have to agree to theconditions.
TUNHEIM: And until that's completed there is no agreement to arbitrate. So both sides seem to be willing to approach it through arbitration but the details have not yet been agreed upon.
REICHMANN: So are they haggling about the copyright?
BACKES: Does your impending demise as a Board put any pressure on either party to try to resolve this?
TUNHEIM: I don't think so.
BACKES: I see this as a continuing fight over money long after you are gone.
TUNHEIM: Well, we've done what we can which is to secure the film for the American public, and it is secure, it is taken. I suppose Congress could give it back but I don't see that as being any likelihood at all. But it is within the Justice Dept.'s prerogative to try to work out the compensation for it. And that's really where it's at. And whether that is done within the next 6 weeks or the next 6 months, I'm not sure if that matters.
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