In my earlier post on Charles Briggs Sr. I noted that his obituary describes one of his activities following his official CIA retirement as serving as a “liaison for creation of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas, dedicated to the JFK Assassination.” Given his career in documents control and release, that remark raises a host of questions in regard to exactly what such liaison work would have involved.
As soon as the obituary came to our attention, Chris Newton and Debra Conway jumped into research mode. Chris had actually seen a reference to Briggs much earlier than the obituary and had questioned Gary Mack on the subject prior to Gary’s passing. Chris and Debra quickly determined that no real effort had ever been made to conceal Brigg’s involvement with the Sixth Floor Museum or his work with developing displays used in the museum. Briggs had done an oral history interview for the Sixth Floor and it is available through the Museum; his work is also mentioned in a 2013 book on the history of the museum itself. The book (Assassination and Commemoration by Stephen Fagin) delves into great detail on the origins of the museum, the first curator and the design team which ultimately brought Briggs in to work on the initial displays.
It appears there was absolutely no effort to conceal Briggs history with the CIA, indeed it was seen as an advantage in the tasks he was assigned by the design firm of Robert Staples and Barbara Fahs Charles – a well-established Washington D.C. company with an impressive list of museum clients.
Upon hearing of Brigg’s passing, the Sixth Floor Museum spokesperson Megan Bryant wrote the following:
“The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza was saddened to learn of the passing of Charles A. Briggs, Sr. In the late 1980s, Mr. Briggs, during his retirement, worked part-time for about a year in the Washington, D.C. offices of noted museum exhibition design specialists, Robert Staples and Barbara Fahs Charles, as a researcher and writer. A well-respected member of the Staples & Charles team, Briggs along with his research partner, Abigail Porter, assisted in the development of The Sixth Floor exhibition, John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation. Briggs contributions are still evident and continue to be appreciated by Museum visitors today.”
In his oral history done for the museum in 2009, Brigg’s talks of his work in the project, jokingly referring as being known at the time as a “spook”. What he does not talk about in any detail are the specifics of his year’s long research and writing. There is also no mention of specific displays or content with which he had been involved.
At this point, the full details of his role are unknown. The official story has him being recruited by the design firm through a friend of a friend, having been known to have officially retired but with useful career experience in doing research work and vetting materials related to the Kennedy assassination. The apparent contradiction between the use of the word “liaison” in his obituary and his apparent work as a paid contract employee of the design firm is intriguing but inconclusive. One thing that could be taken for granted would seem to be that nothing would have entered the museum’s displays that would have compromised the information that Briggs had worked with during his career and that the displays would reflect the official Warren Commission story.
It’s a fascinating connection that I’m sure will be further explored; for myself I’m proceeding with work on what Brigg’s overall career may have to teach us and hopefully my thoughts on that will become available via the Mary Ferrell Foundation before too long.