2013 JFK Facts scoop #2: CIA continues to stonewall on decorated officer’s files

George Joannides

George Joannides

Throughout 2013, I reported on the latest developments in Morley v. CIA, my long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the JFK files of deceased CIA operative George Joannides,

Picked up by dozens of news organizations, the Joannides story was one of three 2013 journalistic scoops from JFK Facts that made national news.

In my coverage I explained why I filed the lawsuit, recounted the Feb. 25 hearing before U.S. Court of Appeals, and reported on  the appellate court’s favorable ruling in June. In November, I revealed that the CIAacknowledged for the first time in a court filing that Joannides maintained a residence in New Orleans while serving as the chief of the psychological warfare branch of the CIA’s MIami station in 1963-64.

The last disclosure implicated Joannides ever more deeply in the JFK story

In the summer of 1963, his assets  among anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans had repeated contact with Lee Oswald, later accused of killing JFK, a fact the Warren Commission never learned. Fifteen years later, Joannides thwarted congressional investigators who wanted to know more about Oswald and the anti-Castro Cubans. In 1981, he received a medal for his career service to the Agency. He died in 1990.

Here’a how the story spread in the mainstream media:

Associated Press reporter David Porter followed up on the story and interviewed me extensively for his August 17 story, “Five Decades Later, Some JFK Files Still Seated.”

From the story:

“This is not about conspiracy, this is about transparency,” said Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post reporter and author embroiled in a decade-long lawsuit against the CIA, seeking release of the closed documents. “I think the CIA should obey the law. I don’t think most people think that’s a crazy idea.”

Joannides medal

Retired CIA officer George Joannides (left) received the Career Intelligence Medal on July 15, 1981. (Photo credit: CIA)

Porter’s story appeared in at least thirty news sites in the United, States, Canada and the United Kingdom, including the Dallas Morning News, Huffington Post, St. Paul Pioneer Press,  and England’s Daily Mail.  At least eight of the sites that ran the story also published a photograph, obtained under court order, which showed Joannides receiving a CIA medal in 1981.

David Talbot wrote about the Joannides story in Salon. So did Joesph Lazarro in the International Business TImes. So did libertarian blogger Jacob Hornburger.

On Nov. 21, Judge John Tunheim and Thomas Samoluk, formerly of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), wrote in the Boston Herald that the CIA’s “inaccurate representations” had prevented the ARRB from  reviewing and releasing the Joannides files.

Fox News picked up the story. On Nov. 22, Fox’s Washington correspondent James Rosen asked “What’s in the CIA’s secret JFK files?” and answered that question by focusing on the Joannides story.

Rosen quoted Larry Sabato, University of Virginia professor and a JFK author about the significance of the Joannides files.

“The fact that they [the CIA] appointed George Joannides to be the liaison between the CIA and the House Select Committee on Assassinations tells me that they consciously were determined to withhold information from this second major investigation of the Kennedy assassination,” Sabato told Fox News this week.

On Nov. 25, Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe interviewed Judge Tunheim who said that ’the CIA’s treachery” had obstructed the ARRB’s ability to declassify the Joannides files.

“I think they should release them now because they clearly have become relevant to the assassination,” Tunheim told the Globe.

This news coverage has established the Joannides files as some of the importance JFK assassination records that the government has not yet made public.

My attorney Jim Lesar  incorporated these news stories into a November court filing to support his argument that the government is required to pay my court costs for withhold9ing material of ‘public benefit.”

Judge Richard Leon will rule on the court costs issue in coming months.

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5 comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    Thank you for your persistence and good thinking.

    We know from your work the CIA was following Oswald closely, certainly in the final year of his life. Jane Roman’s revelation to you indicates the key file on Oswald was not a regular file but rather one held by J.J. Angleton. Assuming arguendo that’s true, the CIA files on Joannides are not likely to say much if anything directly about Oswald.

    On the other hand, the CIA and Joannides behaved very suspiciously with respect to the HSCA. That tells me Joannides had some special knowledge of Oswald.

  2. Curtis Fenwick says:

    The CIA gives this man, George Joannides, the career intelligence medal but won’t let the public see what he did to earn the medal.
    Go figure.

    Maybe the public will learn what it was that made Joannides so special from those he worked around in competition for the same medal or those who worked under his direction & control.

  3. George Simmons says:

    Mr Morley deserves high praise for his pursuit of the Joannides files.
    I feel that this is an extremely important issue because it reveals a level of deceit by the CIA with regards to the JFK assassination which is yet to be expplained.
    The CIA did not reveal to the WC or the HSCA their sponsorship of the DRE.
    The CIA did not disclose to the HSCA the role of George Joannides in 1963, thereby misleading a congessional investigation into the murder of a president. So, whatever George Joannides was doing in 1963 the CIA considered it important and sensitive enough to committ a felony to keep it secret. George Blakey, chief counsel to the HSCA, described the CIA’s actions as “wilful obstruction of justice”
    Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the ARRB has stated that the Joannides files should be released.
    However, 50 years later the CIA are illegally witholding the files.
    Anyone concerned with truth and transparency in the JFK assassination should support Mr Morleys efforts.

  4. John Kirsch says:

    Even if the files turn out to contain no information that moves the 11/22 story ahead significantly, it’s necessary to make the point that the CIA (or any other government agency) can’t just arbitrarily refuse to release information.
    The information in those files does not belong to the government. The government is merely the custodian of those files. The files,and the information in them, belong to the people.

  5. Ian David says:

    Perhaps Mr Joannides is a blue herring, or a green one. Anything but red. His involvement in the cold war activities of the CIA surpassed the obsessive. However, his locked files may be a screen hiding another figure with a mission as messianic as his name.

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