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Wednesday, April 2, 1997, 1:00 P.M.
Archivist's Reception Room (Room 105)
National Archives and Records Administration
Witnesses - Page
T. Jermey Gunn - 6
Robert Brauneis - 22
James Lesar - 46
Josiah Thompson - 60
Moses Weitzman - 68
Richard Trask - 80
Art Simon - 97
Debra Conway - 109
JUDGE TUNHEIM: I call to order this public meeting -- public hearing of the Assassination Records Review Board. Thank you all for coming today. I want to first express my appreciation, the appreciation of the board to the National Archives for permitting us to meet in this historic reception room. We are happy to be here and happy to be able to use the facilities. This is not a meeting or a function of the National Archives. The Assassination Records Review Board is an independent federal agency, not part of the National Archives. I would ask that everyone take care with the antiques and old furniture and rugs that are in this building -- or in this room. We would appreciate that. I also want to thank our witnesses today for agreeing to participate in this important hearing before the board. A little information about the board. The as as records review board members were appointed by President Clinton, confirmed by the Senate, in 1994. We have been at work now for almost three years working on implementing the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. We primarily have been locating, securing, and releasing to the public records related to the tragic assassination of President Kennedy. Much of the records that have been released are records that have been held in Federal Government files. We also have been on the search for additional records, whether they be in the hands of state and local governments or in the hands of private individuals that may wish to donate their material to the United States. This has resulted in an ever-growing collection of the records of the assassination at the National Archives at College Park. Upwards of nearly three and a half million pages are now available to the public at the National Archives. The goal of the Assassination Records Review Board is the goal -- was the goal of Congress in passing the Records Collection Act, is to ensure the broadest possible public release of the records of the assassination of President Kennedy, relevant records which were created before the assassination and certainly all of the records of its investigatory aftermath. It is not, I emphasize, it is not the responsibility of the Review Board to solve remaining mysteries associated with the assassination or to reach conclusions about the assassination itself. Rather, it is the duty of the board and the responsibility of the board to secure and release to the public, to the greatest extent possible, the records that unfortunately have remained shrouded in secrecy through so many years since the events in 1963. Let me turn to today's hearing. The purpose of today's hearing is to seek public comment and advice on what should be done with the camera-original motion picture film of the assassination that was taken by Abraham Zapruder on November 22, 1963. That film has been stored, the original has been stored at the National Archives. It was placed there by Mr. Zapruder's heirs, which now have formed a company, and they claim to possess legal title to the film. So the Review Board is faced with the question of how to properly handle this artifact, the original -- the camera-original film from the day of the assassination. We have assembled today for testimony an interesting group of experts related to legal issues that are associated with this question, and certainly issues relative to the value of the camera-original film taken by Abraham Zapruder, the film itself. I would like to ask before we begin whether any of the other Review Board members have any comments that they would like to make before we get into the witnesses. [No response.] Again, I appreciate all of you coming today. Thank you for attending this hearing. We are going to hear first from the general counsel for the Assassination Records Review Board, Mr. Jeremy Gunn, who is going to outline some of the issues that are presented to the Review Board by the Zapruder film. Mr. Gunn.