Records and information for former State Dept. employee

John Kirsch filed this request with the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States of America.


From: John Kirsch

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Records and information on Bernard Fensterwald Jr.

"From 1951 to 1956 Fensterwald worked for the U.S. State Department as an Assistant Legal Advisor. This included defending State Department employees accused by Joseph McCarthy of being members of the American Communist Party." (From the Wikipedia entry on Fensterwald.)

Mr. Fensterwald was born 8/2/1921 in Nashville, Tenn. He served in the Navy in World War II and received a law degree from Harvard. After leaving the State Department, he served as counsel for several Senate subcommittees. Mr. Fensterwald later defended James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and James McCord, one of the Watergate burglars. Mr. Fensterwald passed away in 1991 at the age of 69.

Here is a link to Mr. Fensterwald's obituary in The New York Times:

"In 1969, Fensterwald and Richard E. Sprague founded a private "Committee to Investigate Assassinations," which primarily concerned itself with the Kennedy assassination." (From the Wikipedia entry on Fensterwald.) I write a blog,, about the assassination.

I originally filed an FOIA for Fensterwald's records with the State Department, which suggested that I request the records from NARA.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at, and is not being made for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


John Kirsch

From: National Archives and Records Administration

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: National Archives and Records Administration

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.