The Railroading of LCDR Florence “Terri” Pike USN Over Release of ONI Assassination Records.
The package came in the mail from an anonymous source. It contained copies of official Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and JFK Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) documents concerning the Review Board’s request for ONI records related to the assassination of President Kennedy that were ordered released by the JFK Act of 1992.
The documents refer to official requests for records made by the ARRB and the response of the ONI, specifically ONI records officer Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Florence “Terri” Pike, USNR, who was assigned to respond to the ARRB requests for ONI records.
The first dozen or so pages in the packet are a series of documents from the ARRB requesting specific records that have a direct bearing on the assassination of the President,
The list of Certain Archive Records To Be Retrieved By the Navy and Reviewed For Assassination Records included all relevant US Marine Corps and US Navy records, specifically “a) the relevant records of the Commandant of the Marine Corp. for the period 1957 to 1964, including any chronological, subject, work or ‘soft’ files. b.) All communications to and from the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, on the day and week of the assassination. c) Cuban or Fidel Castro intelligence material from 1962-64 that may relate to the assassination or discuss Cuban complicity in the assassination. d) Documents that relate to any mail cover or mail surveillance program or operations in the 1959-62 time period…e) documents and files that relate to the defections of military personnel to Communist Bloc countries from 1959 through 1962. f) Records of the Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the head of the Office of Naval Intelligence for the period 1957 to 1964,…l. Records of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and any related offices, for the period 1957-64, including records of the Director for the Office of Naval Intelligence (OP-921E), the District Intelligence Office for the Ninth Naval District (Chicago, Illinois), and the District Intelligence Office for the Eighth Naval District (New Orleans, Louisiana) for any communications regarding Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union. Any records indicating ONI maintained an office in Dallas in 1962-63,…Records of Oswald’s two operational units,…Any records relating to any investigation of Oswald that may have been conducted in Dec. 1963…any audio tapes…the unedited audiotapes (and transcripts, if available) of all radio transmissions to and from Air Force One (26000), the Pacific Cabinet plane (SAM 86972), Andrews AFB, and various State, military and White House officials in Washington that were recorded on November 22, 1963, particularly by uniformed military personnel at Andrews AFB who were working for the White House Communications Agency……records related to helicopters used at Bethesda,…Request DOD records, LHO, USMC, SS & DOD for president’s visits to Florida and Texas, the use of military cover for CIA, the Russian language rosters for Monterey, CA., Defense Language School, the surveillance in Mexico of Cuba, USSR embassies, 61-64, DOD counter-intel-in Mex., Cuba., Cuban émigré groups in USA, surveillance of dissidents in USA, contingency plans Cuba, records of the Day of Assassination: November 22, 1963…”
Well, you get the idea. They were pretty thorough and very specific. While the ARRB was itself not conducting an investigation, they were certainly asking for the assassination related records that a good investigator would have asked for, just to get started.
After these requests were officially made on November 14, 1995, the Director of ONI responded on Nov. 27 by letter stating that “the Office of Naval Intelligence holds no records responsive to the tasking of 14 Nov..,” but that didn’t satisfy the ARRB. Then months went by without a response and eventually some ONI records officers were assigned the task of responding to the ARRB requests, including LCDR Florence “Terri” Pike and LCDR Paul Doolittle.
A March 3, 1997 – A ARRB staff memo notes that “LCDR Pike is our main point of contact in the ONI records review. She works for the Information Management Department,” and a Meeting Report on the Disposition of ONI, NCIS Records, by Christopher Barger/ARRB staff reports that they “met with the ONI team responsible for heading the search for records under the JFK Act. This team is directed by Lieut. Cmdr. Terri Pike; LCDR Doolittle works in the ONI FOIA office; Pike reports to Capt. Peiaec; LCDR Bastien is the JAG.”
“For reason not entirely clear to either the ONI team or ARRB,” Barger notes, “the tasking for this project only trickled down to them on Friday, March 7, 1997. They were a little confused as to why they were only being tasked with this now, but expressed a willingness to do everything they possibly could to achieve the objectives of the Act.” Among other topics discussed, “…(Tim) Wray provided extract from HSCA Staff Report regarding alleged Marine Corps CID post-assassination investigation into activities of Lee Harvey Oswald, and asked for any advice or assistance they might be able to provide regarding where such records might presently be stored, if they exist. Best recommendation: personal papers of the Marine Corps Commandant, Marine Corps CID records. Subject investigation, if authentic, may have been handled outside normal investigative channels.”
“…LCDR Pike identifies ONI action taken and intended searchers. Intended searches would begin at Suitland at the Federal Records Center, but would later include district offices within CONUS.”
“Pike then presented us a small written briefing package detailing what they had identified that they are required to do and the process they will use to go about the review. She noted that their first priority was to identify the records collections they need to search, then determining the physical location of the records. Most of these will be at Suitland, she said, but there will be others located in district offices round the country in locations like Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, New Orleans, St. Louis and Boston. They have also identified a need to determine standard subject identification codes which should cause a document to be searched, and she concluded by detailing the records disposition procedures within ONI.”
“Despite the fact that they had only learned of this tasking on Friday, they had located and designated approximately 125 cubic feet of documents that directly relate to subjects we mentioned in our letter to the Navy. These will be reviewed page by page. She anticipated being able to complete the review by the stated deadline set by the Navy and ARRB of April 30, 1997.”
“In addition, she said that ONI had identified about 950 cubic feet, or approximately 2.4 million pages of records which might be related to the topics we were interested in, but that we had not specifically mentioned…LCDR Pike stressed that she, and ONI, understood that all information, even negative result, is important to our process, and that they will be providing reports on everything they search, whether relevant documents are found within or not. Pike provided us with a ‘flow chart’ documenting the normal records disposition process within ONI, explaining what each step of the process is and where documents go during each phase of the process. The final page of her briefing package was a sample of the ‘clue sheets’ being provided to each reviewer for the April 30 documents. Approximately two dozen subject headings are listed along with ‘clues’ or keywords for each subject and a time window for each subject…”
In summary, the ARRB meeting report notes, “In closing, it should be reported that this team and LCDR Pike in particular, are very impressive, they appear very much to have their act together on this project. They provided details and planning we have rarely seen from other agencies, yet they have had this project assigned to them for less than a week. They were extremely helpful, and have taken an aggressive and proactive approach to complying with the JFK Act. We can expect more impressive work from this team.”
Christopher Barger/ARRB reported in a memo that, “I telephoned Terri Pike (and) explained that…we were doing what we could call some “stock taking,” that is, trying to determine what has been done and what is outstanding from each agency that we are working with. In that light, I asked her if she could give me a brief status report on what they have done so far. She said that they have completed their review of about 40 cu. ft. of the 127 cu. ft. ONI has committed to having reviewed for us by the April 30 deadline. She also said that they have found one box based on our SF 135 requests. This box has to do with defections, both Cuban and Soviet; they plan on turning this box over to us ‘in Toto.’ She said that most of the records in that box are CIA originated or have CIA equities, so they will need to be coordinated with CIA. She ended the call by telling me that if we want to come out there at any point and personally review any of their work, we are welcome.”
Then ARRB staffers meet with LCDR Pike and LCDR Doolittle of ONI. LCDR Pike stated that review of the first 123 cubic feet of ONI records had been completed, and that as a result .8 cubic feet of records (18 district files) on defectors had been identified as responsive to the CNO tasking; these records were presented to ARRB staffers at the meeting for cursory review. Completion of declassification review and delivery of the original records to the ARRB was tentatively promised within 2 – 4 weeks. LCDR Pike also mentioned that approx. 950 cubic feet of additional records had been identified which –might- be responsive to the topics the ARRB was interested in, and said that review of this material would take approximately 6 months. (ARRB Meeting Report memorializes the result of this meeting.)
The ARRB meeting report said that, “Pike explained that most of the relevant records they found were discovered ‘by accident;’ that is to say, they were misfiled in boxes outside where they should have been. This is important for two reasons. 1) If they had been filed where they ‘should’ have been, they would have been routinely destroyed by this point, and 2) as they continue their review of the approximately 900 cu feet of records they have self-identified, they expect they might well continue to discover records of interest to us…LCDR Pike further stated that ONI remained responsible for searching an additional 950 cubic feet of records located in Suitland, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco, and stated those searches were scheduled for completion during fiscal year 97…”
LCDR Pike Faxed the ARRB; indicating that she had finished a declassification review of the.8 cubic feet of defector records, and had prepared a page-by-page index of same. She indicated that transmittal of these documents would occur in the near future.
That appears to be the beginning of the end of such cooperation and the end of LCDR Terri Pike, as there are two different copies of this meeting report in two different typefaces, one with the first sentence of the fourth paragraph highlighted by two circles on one and completely redacted in the other. The line redacted reads: “There are a total of 18 folders of material which ONI has determined should go into the JFK collection and have earmarked for delivery to us…” Another redacted paragraph follows: “Pike said that ONI is going through review of all records covered by the EO; in most cases, they have been willing to release in full about 96% of the documents. She said that for the other 4% they expected that the Board has the power to overrule them anyway, but they had to at least make the request. [Ed. Note: this implies that they might perhaps be resigned to ‘losing’ some of the information they want to protect and would not appeal a Board decision to release some of this information.].”
The redacted paragraph reads: “Pike concluded her report by suggesting that we might find more of the records we suggested we wanted in BG38 the records of the CNO. She said that currently ONI is currently organizing a review team…to look through this group…however, ARRB staff may also wish to personally review these records for relevant material. She suggested that changes in alert status, etc. might also be found in CNO records…”
It appears that the main point of contention between Lt. Commander Pike and the rest of the brass at ONI is the disposition of ONI records outside of the main records storage center at Suitland.
Then the Review Board came up with some additional leads from former servicemen who had handled assassination records and they requested them. ARRB staffer Doug Horne noted in a memo that, “Terri Pike called to say she had received my voice mail inquiring about an NIS-ONI post-defection investigation of Oswald at El Toro in 1959 or 1960, would do immediate checking, and would try to fax us results of her search sometime on Thursday of this week.”
A Chronology of Key Events in ARRB-ONI Interface notes that on “…ARRB staffer Doug Horne called Terri Pike and requested that ONI look for ‘119 Reports’ covering an alleged ONI investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald’s October, 1959 defection to the Soviet Union. LCDR Pike accepted the tasking, but ARRB never received any feedback on its results.”
One of the key liaisons between the ARRB and ONI, at least in the eyes of the Review Board staff, had simply disappeared.
A Memo Terri Pike sent to ARRB Military unit member Doug Horne amplified the situation when she wrote to them that, “…I was relieved from the leadership position on this project in late August (1997) by the ONI Reserve Directorate Head….As you know, it was my responsibility to identify all records required under 44 U.S.C. 2107. I felt a personal commitment to ensure this effort was conducted ‘with vigor’ and as thoroughly as possible…”
Another memo from Pike dated 10 Nov. 97 notes that, “In its questioning to date, the ONI IG has narrowly focused on my travel requirements and has declared that the taskings of…The Kennedy review did not include the requirement for searches for all records regardless of physical location, just those available locally.”
She was charged with “fraudulent” official travel because her “tasking did not say to search regional record centers.” She was accused of work and travel “fraud” in regards to the travel from DC to the remote ONI records storage centers, obviously a trumped up charge, and one designed to make sure that everyone else in a similar position didn’t take the same initiatives she did. In a memo Pike wrote that, “We fundamentally disagree on the project requirements. I maintain that under all taskings, the ONI is required to identify and dispose…ALL of its records, not just those of the former Naval Intelligence Command stored in Suitland.”
One hand written ARRB note, probably written by Ex. Dir. T. J. Gunn reads: “Terry Pike – She had been accused of travel work fraud, she suggested that she had found some things – Navy records…she retained a lawyer.” The documents note that the lawyer’s name is David Sheldon, who is with the firm of Feldman, Tucker, Leifer, Fidell & Bank, Military Practice Group.
Then Terri Pike reached out to Doug Horne asking him to, “Please contact me as soon as possible so that I may informally speak to you about the attached memo. Am I correct that the requirement is to search all sites for responsive records? I am losing a lot of sleep defending the position that we are supposed to ‘do the right thing,’ not necessarily the easiest. Thanks, Terri Pike.”
At that point Pike notes that after she was relieved from leadership position on this project by the ONI Reserve Directorate Head, the project was moved by the Chief of Staff (Capt. Joan Darah) from the Reserve Directorate to the Staff Judge Advocate, and her associate, LCDR Doolittle, was recalled to active duty and transferred to San Diego. The new point of contact was the FOIA office Staff Judge Advocate (ONI-OCB) LCDR. R. Bastien.
An ARRB staffer who dealt with Bastien said he, “…was a real bastard, the nastiest individual I encountered within the military structure. He seemed actively opposed to what we were doing at the ARRB…He was a Navy legal officer, a military attorney, acting as the pit bull guard dog protecting the ONI family jewels.”
T. Jeremy Gunn, the senior counsel for the ARRB who became Executive Director, took a personal interest in the Pike case, and his notes indicates that he wanted to know, “When was she transferred? Who were her superiors? How long after she discovered this info was (she) terminated? What were the reasons given for her termination?” On Dec. 3, 1997, Gunn sent a fax to Pike’s attorney David Sheldon, asking to speak to Pike to learn of, “any discussions she had with ONI officials regarding the content and disposition of records for which she was searching and…any information she might have regarding the location of ONI records and of ONI record-keeping policies.”
In a letter to Pike’s attorney, David P. Sheldon, Esq. Feldesman, Tucker, Leiffer, Fidell & Bank, 2001 I Street, N.W. Suite 330, Washington D.C., T. Jeremy Gunn Ex. Dir. ARRB wrote:
Dear Mr. Sheldon, I would like to thank you for returning my call and for your willingness to consider our request. As I mentioned, we would like to speak, on an informal basis, with your client, LCDR Terri Pike. We anticipate that the discussion would likely take no more than one to one and one half hours. There are two principle issues that we would like to discuss: first, any records she located or pursued that were relevant to the assassination or to requests made by the ARRB,; second, any discussions she had with ONI officials regarding the content and disposition of the records for which she was searching; and third, any information she might have regarding the location of ONI records and of ONI record-keeping policies. We do not anticipate any need to discuss issues other than these with LCDR Pike, although you or she may know of other issues that might be of interest to us. The two people from our office who would meet with her are Doug Horne, Chief Analyst for Military Records (who Ms. Pike knows) and Kim Heard, a Senior Attorney…”
An ONI document says directly that the department “…strongly objects to Pike’s cooperation in investigation being conducted by Mr. Jeremy Gunn of ARRB. ONI is unaware of any unauthorized investigation regarding this issue. If Mr. Gunn wishes to conduct an investigation or inquiry, such an effort should be coordinated through the Office of Naval Intelligence. Your objections are noted.”
There is no indication that Gunn got any of his questions answered, but there was a hearing and LCDR Kenneth B. Brown, JSGC, requested Doug Horne testify as a defense witness, but he was unable to attend on that date. Horne doesn’t recall whether he had a real conflict of interest that day or if he was ordered not to get involved.
There is also mention of some issues being, “sufficiently addressed by Psychiatric Dept. of Walter Reed,” though no mention of what was addressed. We can easily imagine however, that Pike’s sanity was questioned and tested.
An Article 32 hearing was held in the courtroom located at Building 200, Washington Navy Yard, 2nd floor on Monday, 16, March, 1998. LCDR. Stephen Jamrozy, JAGC, USN was the Investigating Officer.
[Article 32 a) No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made. This investigation shall include inquiry as to the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, consideration of the form of charges, and recommendation as to the disposition which should be made of the case in the interest of justice and discipline. (b) The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation as provided in section 838 of this title (article 38) and in regulations prescribed under that section…] [http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/ucmj/blart-32.htm]
One member of the ARRB staff met with Pike and her counsel, and part of the meeting was with the attorney alone, at his request, when he said that she had received psychiatric testing and, “Her attorney was somewhat disloyal, speaking of her diagnosis as ‘bipolar’ as if she were somewhat unstable or unreliable, (though) she seemed completely lucid and under control when I spoke with her at this meeting.”
[Note: “bipolar” simply means that you experience greater mood swings than other people. (This can sometimes lead to impulsive behavior. Different types of people exhibit different impulsive behavior. It varies with the individual. Manic behavior—working extremely hard for long periods of time, at a high level of energy, without rest—can also typify bipolar behavior, in between periods of lethargy and depression.) Many talented artists—writers and actors—and politicians are bipolar. Some examples are Joshua Logan, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Theodore Roosevelt. So the stigma is generally unwarranted.]
The assistant legal counsel to the ARRB, Kim Herd, who was brought in at the end to help wrap up loose ends before the Review Board’s deadline terminated, called LCDR K.B. Brown of Dept. of Navy Trial Service Officer regarding Terri Pike’s Article 32 hearing. “According to Brown, David Sheldon (Pike’s attorney) wants to get the Government privilege lifted in order to discuss SCI and Top Secret Materials. Sheldon told Brown that he had just met with the Review Board. Brown was under the impression that the Review Board staff had told Mr. Sheldon something that now was causing him to make this stink about the classified documents. According to Brown, Sheldon stated that the prosecutors needed to make this stuff go away because he was planning on dragging it all out and it would hit the newspapers, etc. Sheldon stated that there was some feeling that ONI was trying to shuffle some of the JFK stuff to the side.”
“Brown wanted to know what we told Terri Pike. I stated that we had been interested in learning what she had done with regard to the JFK project. I stated that Pike was the one who had done most of the talking. Brown then said that he wanted to know what we had learned from Pike. I told Brown that I would get back to him.” Kim Herd then reported that, “I called LCDR Brown back after having spoken with Jeremy Gunn. Brown wanted to know about our conversation with Terri Pike. I told him that we had spoken with her about her search efforts pursuant to the JFK Act. I suggested that he review that material. I also talked with Brown about the discovery requirements in an Article 32 hearing, and he stated that the defense would have to provide information about any witness they were calling – ie. What they would testify about, etc.”
Although Doug Horne, author of Inside the ARRB, mentions his dealings with Terri Pike in some of his ARRB meeting memos and was requested to attend a hearing as a defense witness on her behalf, he does not mention LCDR Terri Pike or the conflicts over the ONI records in his book(s). Nor does he recall the circumstances of the dispute or why he could not attend and testify at the Pike hearing.
Horne’s boss Jeremy Gunn on the other hand, launched an investigation into the Pike Affair, and should remember what happened, what became of her and why the record abruptly stops without a determination as to what became of her and the ONI records the ARRB originally requested.
After leaving the ARRB under a cloud two months before it was finished with its work, Gunn began working for the ACLU.
From the perspective of a JFK Assassination researcher, I don’t know Terri Pike, but just from reading these records she’s a hero of mine. And I want to know more, especially what became of her after she was railroaded by the military brass for doing her job. She should get a medal for what she did.
From a review of the documents, it is clear that Pike was removed from her job, reprimanded, demoted, and wrongly disciplined under trumped up charges. Her career was effectively ended because she took the initiative to retrieve and catalogue ONI records pursuant to the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Act.
Another researcher who read the documents independently concluded, “She was disciplined and (probably) kicked out of the Navy solely because she traveled to ONI document storage holding locations and retrieved records, rather than just rely on records at her location in DC. She seems to be a genuine American hero, trying to do the right thing and getting guillotined for it. This is a shocking case that exhibits the level of abuse that can occur in ONI when that office wants to stonewall and hide records. It is also instructive to see the massive quantities of records that were destroyed prematurely and improperly, according to the records.”
Final Report of the ARRB:
Chapter 8 Compliance with the JFK Act by Government Offices
14. Department of the Navy
1. The Review Board considered records of the Department of the Navy essential in view of Lee Harvey Oswald’s tenure with the Marines, which is administratively a part of Navy. Under the JFK Act, the Navy identified and placed into the JFK Collection at NARA certain core files relating to Lee Harvey Oswald(1) the personnel and medical Marine Corps files for Oswald and (2) Office of Naval Intelligence records on Oswald.
2. After passage of the JFK Act, the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service transferred, in 1994, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) records that had been maintained on Lee Harvey Oswald.6 In 1995, the General Counsel of the Navy directed that a further review of the Navy’s files be undertaken pursuant to the JFK Act. This directive went to the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Naval Historical Center. The Navy identified no additional assassination records.
3. In early 1997, after the Navy consulted with Review Board staff regarding categories of potentially relevant records, the General Counsel’s office issued another search directive to the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Secretary of the Navy’s Administrative Division, and other components within the Navy. The Review Board asked the Navy to search for files of high-level officials of the Marine Corps, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Navy during the years 1959 through 1964.
4. The Navy conducted an extensive review of files, including a review of files from the Secretary of the Navy’s Administrative Office, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Marine Corps. The Navy located miscellaneous documents relating to the Warren Commission and HSCA from files of the Administrative Office for the Secretary of the Navy as a result of this search. Among the records found was an unsigned copy of an affidavit by the Director of ONI, prepared at the time of the Warren Commission, stating that Lee Harvey Oswald was not used as an agent or informant by ONI. The Navy confirmed that it had not, however, located the 1959-1964 files for the Director of ONI.
5. The Department of the Navy submitted its Final Declaration of Compliance dated December 3, 1997.
a. Office of Naval Intelligence.
6. The Review Board pursued the matter of ONI records separately. Accordingly, the Board requested that ONI submit its own certification of its compliance with the JFK Act. In its Final Declaration of Compliance, ONI stated that it conducted an extensive review of ONI records held at Federal Records Centers throughout the country. ONI did not identify any additional assassination records. ONI was unable to find any relevant files for the Director of ONI from 1959 to 1964. ONI also acknowledged that there were additional ONI records that were not reviewed for assassination records, but that these records would be reviewed under Executive Order 12958 requiring declassification of government records.
7. The Office of Naval Intelligence submitted its Final Declaration of Compliance dated May 18, 1998.
8. 5. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
9. The Review Board requested that the Navy and ONI search for the records of Director of Naval Intelligence Rear Admiral Rufus Taylor. The Review Board acquired a copy of an unsigned September 21, 1964, affidavit regarding Oswald that Taylor appears to have executed and forwarded to Secretary of Defense McNamara. The affidavit states that that ONI never utilized Lee Harvey Oswald as an agent or an informant. ONI did not locate any files belonging to (Rufus) Taylor (Director of Naval Intelligence at the time of the assassination).
BK Note: For some reason it is hard to believe that the ONI could not locate any of the records, files or documents of its former director, other than an unsigned statement saying that the accused assassin of the President was never utilized as an agent or an informant.