Wednesday, April 21, 2010



In its treatment of the Bloomfield papers, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) seems to be guided by an old suspect ideology according to which the purpose of National Archives is to hide documents rather than to preserve them and make them available. For the archaist archivists adhering to this vision, collecting documents is a mean to get them out of circulation, and preservation means protecting them from the public view.

Already, it is a shame to see LAC keeping secret documents that its donator wanted to make public. But, in view of the nature of the Bloomfield Archives and of the treatment they would be given by the US National Archives, we can also affirm that LAC is fantasying when it considers itself as a modern archives institution, that is as an organization where the people’s right to access historical information is a fundamental value.

The available Bloomfield Archives, and more particularly the papers dating from 1960 and that LAC kept secret until January 2010, contain dozens and dozens of letters documenting Permindex and Centro Mondiale Commerciale (CMC) history. Like most of the JFK Assassination researchers know, those two Italian firms, perhaps wrongly, perhaps rightly, were widely identified in newspapers, books and reports as being CIA fronts related to the JFK Assassination. Very conservatively, we can estimate that the Bloomfield files from years 1961 to 1964 that LAC are still keeping secret, may include hundreds of letters relating to Permindex, like the two below.

If that’s not enough, in files containing miscellaneous Louis Bloomfield correspondences from years 1968 to 1978, there are traces of his reaction to the allegations to the effect that he was an associate of Clay Shaw, the businessman that was at that time indicted in New Orleans by District Attorney Jim Garrison for conspiracy against President John F. Kennedy. After having first appeared in the Italian newspaper Paese Sera, , this assertion was echoed in March, 1968 in Montreal Le Devoir by its New York correspondent Louis Winitzer. Then in September 1968, Canadian Dimension, a Winnipeg magazine, published an article titled Neo-Fascism and the Kennedy Assassination, which was based on Le Devoir’s piece.
The Bloomfield Archives contain this letter from Canadian Dimension editors that is obviously a reply to a Bloomfield’s missive that may be in the files kept secret by LAC:

Altogether, the correspondence echoing Louis Bloomfield’s reaction to allegations making him an associate of Clay Shaw ant the hundreds of documents about Permindex would, if the Bloomfield Archives were in US territory, make this collection falls under the definition of JFK Assassination Records, as stated by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, a law that was promulgated at the outset of Oliver Stone’ film. (See )
The JFK act contains this definition :

"Assassination record" means a record that is related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, that was created or made available for use by, obtained by, or otherwise came into the possession of -- (…)

(F) the Library of Congress;

(G) the National Archives and Records Administration;

(H) any Presidential library; (…)”

According to this definition, because the Bloomfield papers are :
1) related to the JFK assassination ;
2) were obtained by the National Archives,
they would be regulated by the JFK act, if only they were in United Stated National Archives, instead that in the Canadian National Archives.

What would then be the effect of such regulation? The JFK Assassination Records Act is clear on the principles that should apply. The act specifies:

“(2) all government records concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should carry a presumption of immediate disclosure, and all records should be eventually disclosed to enable the public to become fully informed about the history surrounding the assassination;”

“(7) most of the records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are almost 30 years old, and only in the rarest cases is there any legitimate need for continued protection of such records.”

Thus, except if LAC would have submit solid evidence that a specific document should remain protected, every document contained in the Bloomfield Archives would be opened.
The JFK Records Act is perhaps the most modern law that have ever affected the management of a country’s archival material, and, 18 years after adoption of this act in the US, Library and Archives Canada still have to adhere to the fundamental values that were the basis of the JFK Act.

But LAC is far from that.

Far from recognizing that the JFK Assassination records contained in the Bloomfield Archives should carry a presumption of immediate disclosure, LAC is using the pretext of the possible presence of privileged information in those papers to abusively put hundreds of documents behind a veil of secrecy.

Far from considering that, after 30 years, there is only in the rarest cases any legitimate needs to hide documents, Library and Archives Canada arbitrarily applies a 50 years restriction on documents that their donator wanted opened by now.
Far from being trustworthy, far from respecting its donator’s will to have its archives opened 20 years after his death, LAC is hiding behind its walls documents that the US National Archives would have already made public.

Sure, some will argue that LAC is not in the United States and that it doesn’t have to apply US laws or standards. But, and that is far worse, keep in mind that LAC is concealing documents that any other Canadian archives institution, such as an university, a college, a museum or an historical society, would have already disclosed for the only reason that such was the expressed will of its donator. For such institution, it would have been a matter of honour.


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