CIA admits undercover officer lived in New Orleans

George Joannides, chief of CIA covert operations in Miami in 1963, also had a residence in New Orleans, according to the CIA.

In a court motion filed last week, the CIA acknowledged for the first time that deceased CIA officer George Joannides lived in New Orleans while handling contacts with an anti-Castro student organization whose members had a series of encounters with accused presidential assassin Lee Oswald in August 1963.

The unexpected admission came in arguments before a federal court judge about whether the CIA is obliged to pay $295,000 in legal fees incurred during my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit concerning certain 50-year-old JFK assassination records.

In a previous court filing, my attorney Jim Lesar argued that two documents released over CIA objections in 2008 were significant because they showed that Joannides’s espionage assignment took him to New Orleans where Oswald lived.

In a 38-page response U.S. Attorney Ron Machen disputed the claim that Joannides had traveled to New Orleans in the spring of 1964 at the time Warren Commission was investigating Oswald’s contacts with anti-Castro Cubans.

Machen said the documents showed only that Joannides had maintained a residence in New Orleans.

U.S Attorney Ron Machen.

“New Orleans is clearly listed as Joannides’ place of residence when on home leave, and the form does not put him in New Orleans on the dates cited by Plaintiff,” Machen stated.

Joannides and his family lived in Miami from 1962-64, according to CIA records and interviews with former colleagues. Joannides’s residence on 65th Avenue in Southwest Miami was listed in the 1963 Miami phone book.

Machen’s filing did not disclose why Joannides maintained a second residence in New Orleans.

Whatever the date of Joannides’s travel to New Orleans, Machen’s motion confirms that Joannides lived in the Crescent City at same time, or shortly after, the anti-Castro student group under his control had contact with Kennedy’s accused killer.

The admission is significant because Joannides’s financial support for Oswald’s antagonists among the anti-Castro exiles was not disclosed to the Warren Commission. Former commission staffer Burt Griffin, now a judge in Ohio, recently told AP reporter David Porter that the CIA’s failure to disclose Joannides’s actions in 1963 was an act of “bad faith.”

Joannides, who died in 1990, was never questioned by JFK investigators about contacts between the anti-Castro students he supported and Kennedy’s accused killer.

The CIA in  New Orleans

Joannides is one of the most significant new characters to emerge in the always controversial story of JFK’s assassination.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press have all reported in recent years on the unusual secrecy around his role in the events of 1963.

As an undercover CIA officer living in New Orleans, Joannides was well positioned to report on Oswald’s actions in late 1963.

Using the alias “Howard,” Joannides served as case officer for the Cuban Student Directorate (DRE),  the anti-Castro organizations funded by the agency that publicized Oswald’s pro-Castro ways both before and after JFK was killed. He also served as chief of the psychological warfare operations branch of the CIA’s Miami station, according to declassified CIA records.

The CIA had an office in New Orleans where Oswald, an itinerant ex-Marine married to a Russian woman, lived from April to September 1963.

Lee Oswald came to the attention of CIA-funded anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.

In August 1963, Oswald had a series of encounters with members of the New Orleans chapter of the Cuban Student Directorate who challenged his public support of Cuban president Fidel Castro.

The Cuban students publicized and denounced Oswald’s pro-Castro activities on a local radio program.

They sent one member, described as an “intelligence officer,” to visit Oswald’s house posing as a Castro supporter, to learn more about him.

The group issued a press release on August 21, 1963, calling for a congressional investigation of Oswald, who had not shot anyone at that point.

At the time, the CIA, via Joannides, supplied the Cuban students in Miami with $51,000 a month, according to CIA memo found in the JFK Library in Boston. The group’s activities involved “propaganda, political action and intelligence collection,” according to Joannides’s fitness evaluation from the summer of 1963.

When it came to Oswald, the DRE delivered what the CIA paid for.

The first JFK conspiracy theory, published with CIA support, on Nov. 23, 1963.

Within an hour of Oswald’s arrest for killing JFK on November 22, 1963, DRE leaders in Miami called reporters to say the president had been killed by a communist. The group’s information about Oswald helped generate headlines nationwide about “the pro-Castro gunman.”

The day after the assassination, the DRE published a broadsheet featuring the photos of Oswald and Castro under the headline “The Presumed Assassins.”

It was one of the first JFK conspiracy scenarios to reach public print. According to former members of the DRE, the group was wholly dependent on CIA funds provided by Joannides at the time.

‘Attenuated connection’

My Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed in 2003, sought records that would show what Joannides knew about the contacts between the DRE and Oswald, as well as what he reported to his superiors.

In ten years of litigation, CIA officials have stated repeatedly said they will “neither confirm nor deny” the existence of records related to Joannides’s participation in any specific covert project, operation or assignment in the summer of 1963.

The phrase, “neither confirm nor deny,” is a standard CIA response to inquiries about covert operations.

In the Nov. 7 court filing, Machen stated:

“While it is true that Joannides was a CIA officer and liaison to DRE, an anti-Castro group that had a couple (sic) of encounters with Oswald, this doesn’t implicate either Joannides or DRE in the assassination. Even then, the records cited for support by Plaintiff do not pertain to this attenuated connection, and those that do have already been publicly released in the JFK Act collection.”

Machen’s sworn statement erred in saying members of the group had “a couple of encounters” with Oswald.

In fact, the Warren Commission report found that DRE members came in personal contact with Oswald on five different occasions in August 1963.

Joannides medal

Retired CIA officer George Joannides (left) received the Career Intelligence Medal from deputy CIA director Bobby Ray Inman on July 15, 1981.
(Photo credit: CIA)

 

A medal for his service

In the Nov. 7 filing, Machen also disputed the significance of CIA records, released under appellate court order in 2008, that revealed Joannides had received a CIA medal.

In a previous filing, I argued that the previously unknown honor reflected official approval of Joannides’s actions in 1963 and in 1978, when he served as the CIA’s liaison to congressional investigators looking into Kennedy’s murder.

The CIA rejected that claim, saying that the declassified citation of the medal “does not address any specific assignment, rather it speaks in terms of 28 years of [Joannides's] cumulative service ‘in diverse assignments of increasing responsibility at Headquarters, the domestic field and overseas.”

The specific reasons why Joannides was honored remain secret, even 50 years after the fact. The CIA has asserted in previous federal court filings that a five-page 1981 memo to Joannides’s superiors about the medal cannot be made public — for reasons of “national security.”

———-

For more information, see:

 ”5 Decades Later Some JFK FIles Still Sealed” (Associated Press, Aug. 18. 2013)

“Justice Dept. denies CIA officer was honored for coverup” (JFK Facts,Dec. 17, 2012)

“Court uphold public benefit of disclosure about CIA officer in JFK story” (JFK Facts, June 19, 2013)

“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)

———-

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30 comments

  1. Photon says:

    Why would you think that Joannides would get a medal only for service in 1963 and 1978? He had a 28 year career with many high points; you have never proven that he had any relationship whatsoever with Oswald when the latter was alive.
    How many military mem have homes of record that are different from their duty stations? Thousands!

    • JSA says:

      Don’t you think it’s a bit premature to charge unprovability in a case that is still in the process of unravelling? This New Orleans connection only came to light because of pressure exerted on CIA. CIA is still sitting on some of Mr. Joannides’ files. Until those files are released, the proof you ask for is still potentially sealed from view. Let’s open those ancient files and see what they contain.

    • jeffmorley says:

      I don’t think and I have never written that Joannides only got the medal for his actions in 1963 and 1978. He got the medal for the totality of his career, including his actions in 1963 and 1978. The CIA’s criteria for the award stresses the importance of the culmination of service. The citation for Joannides award cites his service overseas, in the domestic field (ie the U.S.) and headquarters. Joannides’ tenure in Miami was the culmination of his work in the domestic field and his term handling the HSCA was the culmination of his career at headquarters. There is no reason to think that this service in 1963 and 1978 was not part of the reason he was honored.

      • Photon says:

        Then why single it out ? Obviously the statement above “in a previous filing…” Is an attempt to imply that th medal was for his actions in 1963 and 1978. If not, why post the Agency reply?
        Most Agency awards deal with sensitive information and specific reasons for those awards can never be made public without compromising the actions that made those awards possible.
        There is a wall at the McLean campus full of symbols to honor fallen agency personnel who cannot be identified, no matter how heroic the actions that cost them their lives. It is the way the community protects those who must carry on the dangerous tasks of national security that benefit all citizens.

        • JSA says:

          No federal agency, not even CIA, should be above the law, above public scrutiny. Claims that “national security” are involved in actions that took place at least 50 years ago are riding awfully thin with the American public, who just wants to know whether a domestic coup actually happened in this country. Let’s remember that the American taxpayer paid for the agency, and the agency doesn’t own it’s record, We the People do. It’s task is to serve, not to dominate, not to act like a KGB, in a perpetual police state where the people can’t know their own history.

          • AJC1973 says:

            you cant live in the bubble that it was just actions that took place in 1963.. if the CIA was involved in killing a sitting president, then they were doing other dastardly things… i mean their entire books would be opened from then till now.. AUDit the CIA would be the rallying call… it will never happen its not the national security of the USA 50 years ago its the national security of the agents and leaders for the last 50 years.

        • Ralph Yates says:

          Not all of the citizens. I can name a few (including Jack Kennedy and his brother). A man named Ralph Yates did not do well by an unaccountable national security government either. Ralph was trying to do his democratic duty as a citizen. Funny I remember a day when America was described as being founded on a principle of distrust of government and making them answer to the transparency of check and balance oversight by all the people. That was once considered the true national security.

        • George Simmons says:

          The fact that the CIA lied to and misled two investigations into the assassination of a president is an absolute disgrace.

          How does the saying go, “protect the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic”

          Thankfully, we still have people who are willing to pursue the truth.

          Every true patriot will not accept the fact that a president has been murdered, and we have not held a thorough investigation into that crime.

          No person concerned with the integrity of their democracy will accept a government agency lying to and misleading that investigation.

      • larrywheeler says:

        There is an “Asian” looking fellow amongst Oswald and this small group next to the trade mart while Oswald is passing out pro-Castro leaflets. That group are anything but leftist pro-Castro types and Joannides could be that darker skinned guy with the glasses.

    • PBR says:

      It was hardly a ‘highpoint’ when the CIA’s point man to the HSCA was the overseer of DRE, at the time they had contact with Oswald, and must surely have had knowledge of Oswald and his actions if he was doing his job properly. Oswald was publicly proclaiming his left wing credentials and his spat with Bringuier in NO was well publicised. Subsequently Oswald allegedly assassinates the President of the USA. Surely that is a catastrophic failure for the CIA’s man in New Orleans and the Agency itself. What did Johannides know about these events in NO and what actions did he take or encourage others to take? Why was Johannides connection with DRE in 1963 not disclosed to the HSCA and why was he specifically chosen to act as liaison with the Committee?

  2. Mark Groubert says:

    Great stuff, Morley.

  3. Robert Harper says:

    Interesting that the CIA was offering mobsters the eqivalent of 1.2 million dollars to kill Castro, but fights the money that was spent to uncover the CIA activities that they withheld from the public.They remain consistent I guess; CYA at all costs and all costs for anything to further their own goals.

  4. George Simmons says:

    Excellent work Jeff.
    This all highlights the fact that an open and honest investigation into the assassination has not taken place. The WC and HSCA knew none of this.
    Also, it shows how the CIA have both lied to and misled those official investigations. The CIA never informed either the WC or HSCA of their sponsorship of the DRE. Also, they put forward Joannides as a liason to the HSCA without declaring his role in 1963 to them. That is staggering. George Blakey, chief counsel to the HSCA, called it “Willful obstruction of justice”

    It is a ludicrous situation to have a suspect ( the CIA )in a murder case decide what evidence to put forward. The CIA should be compelled to release the Joannides records now, by not doing so they are breaking the law.
    To say that there is no evidence that Joannides had a relationship with Oswald is premature and foolish. The CIA are still withholding the documents.
    Keep applying the pressure Jeff.
    I feel that this is the door we need to keep knocking at. There is something behind it that the CIA does not want us to see.

  5. Hans Trayne says:

    Congratulations, Jeff, your legal & webmaster support team too. Each victory you all make in your courageous & unprecedented struggle for transparency brings the global public one step closer to the truth about the murder of President Kennedy & the mysterious world of his accused assassin.

    I truly hope those in the global public with the financial means, clout & media connections will help you with donations to your cause. As I’ve stated before, if you ever decide to run for office anywhere you’ll have one vote waiting for you to cash in (mine).

  6. Alan Dale says:

    Once again, Mr. Morley’s pursuit of the Joannides story leads to an intriguing revelation. This is news. It’s also an encouraging affirmation of the point of continuing this effort to pull back the CIA’s veil of secrecy and deceit.

    Thank you.

  7. Ralph Yates says:

    It’s not exactly true that no evidence has been shown linking Joannides to Oswald. Oswald’s landlady in New Orleans, Mrs Garner, said she saw DRE’s Carlos Quiroga deliver a thick stack of leaflets to Oswald at the house. In his testimony Quiroga lied and tried to say it was a single leaflet he picked-up from the famous sidewalk scuffle that he wanted to shove in Oswald’s face in order to show his anger. However Mrs Garner was quite certain it was a thick stack. What this shows is that Quiroga was acting as delivery boy for Bringeur and Banister in order to supply Oswald with more leaflets in his agent provocateur work. And maybe to deliver a message to Oswald as well. So seeing how Joannides was a proven in-place CIA intermediary in New Orleans it would be very unlikely he would not have knowledge of such a program considering his DRE boys were operating right in the middle of it at the time. Look at it this way, if the job of DRE was to expose real pro-Castro-ites, and Oswald was attacked by his boys for handing out Fair Play leaflets, what are the chances that the CIA go-between, Joannides, would not have known about Oswald?

    • Photon says:

      There is no evidence, period. Speculation is never evidence; wanting there to be a connection does not make it so.

      • Ralph Yates says:

        I’m sorry but the evidence in this case is prolific. At each turn in Oswald’s history there is a slew of CIA/FBI covert connections and manipulation. To say I “want there to be a connection” is an insult to the intelligence of any objective viewer of the case. You are suggesting the agency whose job it is to know these things somehow missed Oswald even though the evidence is now emerging that they were operating with him. What you are doing is calling CIA’s Carlos Quiroga, who operated under the deceptive gatekeeper Joannides, the believable one and Mrs Garner a liar.

        But as far as evidence that doesn’t seem to be a useful currency anyway since Lane already got a legal decision against Hunt and nothing happened. Not to mention the sheer amount of evidence the government was caught destroying or murdering over in this case. Garrison was criminally obstructed by CIA with impunity – and not because there wasn’t any evidence. It’s clear to me Joannides was assigned to HSCA exactly because he had a personal familiarity with the case.

        No, we the people need to convene a special democratic action in this case and take examples like these to a jury. We then need to make what you are doing a criminal offense with punishment. The matter of president Kennedy’s CIA assassination will be resolved by the people. We won’t be slaves to CIA/National Security tyranny and treason.

        • photon says:

          Post exactly one piece of physical evidence confirming any association between Oswald and Joannides. Even Jeff admits there isn’t any, his theory is that the evidence MAY be hidden-right?

    • Jean Davison says:

      If Quiroga had been a “delivery boy” he wouldn’t have had to knock on the landlady’s door to find out where Oswald lived. Quiroga didn’t testify and didn’t say he’d picked up only one of Oswald’s leaflets.

      A receipt for 1000 of these FPCC handbills was found among Oswald’s possessions on 11/22/63. The printing company was across the street from Reily Coffee Co., the place where Oswald worked:

      http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=1317&relPageId=827

      Oswald didn’t need a delivery boy. He could just walk across the street and pick them up.

      • Ralph Yates says:

        I’m sorry but an honest evaluation of Quiroga’s statement was that he had a few (like 2 or 3) of the leaflets that he picked-up off the street during the confrontation. There’s some blatant dishonesty going on here because the true background is Oswald was an agent provocateur out of Banister’s office. Therefore it is assumable that intel provided Bringeur’s group with information that Oswald was an insider. You are avoiding the point here that Mrs Garner clearly saw a thick stack of leaflets and Quiroga deliberately tried to lie around it because he knew he had no excuse for delivering a thick stack of leaflets to Oswald according to the official story. Quiroga was obviously bringing a resupply after they had stripped Oswald of his leaflets in the scuffle. Newman showed CIA was handling Oswald’s files out of Angleton’s office. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume Oswald’s scuffle with Bringeur’s group was a set-up designed to get Oswald’s face on TV as a pro-Castro Marxist defector. Surely those who doubt Joannides’ awareness of this are to be taken as seriously as those who doubted Oswald knew Ferrie in the Civil Air Patrol. These strict evidence posers don’t seem to show the same standard towards the evidence of Oswald’s guilt. I have little respect for people who demand what little evidence remains after government censorship, intimidation, and murder. We need a jury.

        • Ralph Yates says:

          A more intelligent analysis of Quiroga’s visit would recognize that Quiroga probably had to knock on the landlady’s door simply because he had never visited Oswald’s house, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t delivering the handbills like Mrs Garner witnessed. What makes sense from this scenario is that Oswald approached the Bringeur group cold for maximum provocational effect, which he got, as the scuffle shows. Bringeur was then informed “don’t worry, he’s one of ours” by someone. It had to be either Banister or even Joannides. Read DiEugenio’s ‘Destiny Betrayed’ and you’ll see the networked underground connected to Banister. Hence Quiroga brings a resupply of Fair Play handbills to Oswald in order to directly inform Oswald the Bringeur group is on-board. As anyone can see people who doubt this offer no explanation for the thick stack of handbills. In legal parlance this is otherwise known as “evidence”. It’s kind of obvious that the evidence is so overwhelming in this case that all doubters are left with are disingenuous calls for evidence.

  8. Congratulations Jeff!! Someone is finally making headway. The JFK research community is so very lucky to have you!

    Gayle

  9. PBR says:

    Another breakthrough. We’ll done Jeff. These dripfed disclosures are beginning to take you in the direction of the truth about Johannides and the DRE. Whatever the connection with Oswald, the release of the documents will be of great interest if only to clear up the key questions regarding the workings of JMWAVE and Johannide’s role in psyops at the time of the assassination. If Oswald was being used or run by the CIA in any capacity the likelihood is that Johannides was in some way connected through DRE to the bizarre episodes in New Orleans. Keep up the good work!

  10. Paulf says:

    It makes sense that the anti-Castro crowd was playing some kind of scripted role in their antagonism of Oswald. I doubt that the foot soldiers had any knowledge of the bigger picture, but clearly Oswald was being publicized as a communist for some greater purpose.

    And I don’t think there is any doubt that Oswald knew he was in some manner playing a role in some intelligence game. The question for me is what game he thought he was playing. Was he pretending to be pro-Castro to infiltrate the communist crowd? Was he a genuine leftist who was trying to play both sides? Was he just an intelligence asset who did what he was told, such as defecting, coming back to the US, etc.?

  11. TLR says:

    Sadly, I think any documents that would really be smoking guns were probably kept outside the regular government file-keeping systems (e.g., the off-the-books filing systems of Angleton, Operation 40, J. Edgar Hoover, etc).

  12. Michael says:

    Good find Mr.Morely.I have always find it funny how in the rush to protect itself the agency almost always reveals more then it wants.Keep the pressure on them.

  13. Kingsly says:

    Simple, USA Govt, CIA murdered JFK to provoke war on Cuba, but the outburst was so tremendous (because USA people loved JFK), it became out of control and they had to hide behind planned various conspiracy theories.

  14. Mitch says:

    I was just reading former CIA employee Stockton’s “Flawed Patriot” today and he mentions Mr. Morley’s Joannides work. His friends in the Agency don’t seem to remember Mr. Joannides ever living in New Orleans.

    Score another one for JFKFacts and for Jeff Morley.

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