Two members of an independent civilian review panel that oversaw the release of the government’s JFK assassination files say the CIA misled them about the records of deceased undercover officer George Joannides.
In a piece for the Boston Herald, Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) and Thomas Samoluk, former deputy director of the ARRB, said this:
“There is a body of documents that the CIA is still protecting, which should be released. Relying on inaccurate representations made by the CIA in the mid-1990s, the Review Board decided that records related to a deceased CIA agent named George Joannides were not relevant to the assassination. Subsequent work by researchers, using other records that were released by the board, demonstrates that these records should be made public.”
They describe how the CIA duped two official investigations.
“Joannides spearheaded the CIA’s relationship with an anti-Castro exile group before the assassination. Oswald had a public fight with members of this group on the streets of New Orleans during the summer of 1963. The CIA failed to reveal details of its relationship with the exile group to the Warren Commission.”
“Later, during the House Select Committee investigation in the late 1970s, Joannides was the CIA’s liaison to the committee. Once again the CIA failed to reveal Joannides’ connection to the anti-Castro Cubans who had the encounter with Oswald before the assassination.”
They close with a common sense observation.
“The point is not that the declassification will solve the assassination. Rather, release of these documents will further enrich the existing historical record, and the CIA needs to demonstrate that it is not continuing to hide relevant information from the American public simply to protect itself.”
Tunheim is a federal judge in Minneapolis. Samoluk is an attorney in Boston.
Joseph Backes has posted the complete text of Tunheim and Samoluk’s piece on his Justice for Kennedy blog.
I sued the CIA for the Joannides files in December 2003. A decade later, the case is still pending in federal court in Washington.
The CIA contends that at least 295 documents in Joannides’s administrative file cannot be released in any form for reasons of “national security.” In court filings the CIA says that it will neither confirm nor deny the existence of records related to Joannides’s secret operations in 1963.
At the time of JFK’s assassination, Joannides served as chief of psychological warfare operations in the Agency’s Miiami station. His agents among the Cuban exiles published the first JFK conspiracy theory within 48 hours of JFK’s death, claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald and Fidel Castro were “the presumed assassins.”
Joannides died in 1990, esteemed by his family and many friends. There is no evidence that he was involved in a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy.
Background to this story:
CIA admits undercover officer lived in New Orleans (Nov. 11, 2013)
5 Decades Later Some JFK FIles Still Sealed (Associated Press, Aus. 18. 2013)
Court uphold public benefit of disclsoure about CIA officer in JFK story (JFK Facts, June 19, 2013)
Justice Dept. denies CIA officer was honored for coverup (JFK Facts,Dec. 17, 2012)
CIA Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery (New York Times, October 17, 2009)
Morley v. CIA: Why I sued the CIA for JFK assassination records (JFK Facts, Feb. 23, 2013)