Tag Archive for FOIA

Denied: the JFK records the government doesn’t want you to see

The invaluable WhoWhatWhy has posted a spreadsheet of the 3,600-plus assassination-related records that the U.S. government has never made public.

The existence of the 3,600 records was first reported in JFK Facts last May. The WhoWhatWhy document, obtained by FOIA specialist Michael Ravnitzky, advances the story by providing new details about what exactly the government does not care to share with the American people.  Read more

The implications of latest Morley v. CIA ruling

The latest Morley decision greatly simplifies the test for determining whether a FOIA plaintiff is entitled to receive attorney fees.

Source: MEMORANDUM ON MORLEY CASE OPINION BY COURT OF APPEALS

Thanks and a note on the Morley v. CIA road ahead

Thanks all the positivity on the court’s decision.  I think Bill S. has quoted the essence of the decision, which is good news for FOIA requesters everywhere.  What’s gratifying is the court’s rather commensensical affirmation that people who want to know more about the CIA and the events of November 1963 are acting reasonably.

In addition, this court has previously determined that Morley’s request sought information “central” to an intelligence committee’s inquiry into the performance of the CIA and other federal agencies in investigating the assassination. Morley v. CIA, 508 F.3d 1108, 1118 (D.C. Cir. 2007). Under these circumstances, there was at least a modest probability that Morley’s request would generate information relevant to the assassination or later investigations.”

Unfortunately,, the archaic appellate process has delivered us back into the tender mercies of the oft-reversed Judge Leon. We are exploring possible remedies. If you have expertise in federal appellate court procedures, maybe you have some ideas.

I will keep you posted, if you keep posting the story of the court’s decision on your social media.

Federal judges to hear arguments about CIA JFK files on November 6

Barrett Prettyman Courthouse

Washington DC courthouse where federal judges will hear oral arguments about the CIA’s JFK records.

Oral arguments in my long-running lawsuit for certain CIA records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will be heard in federal court in Washington on Friday, November 6.

At issue: whether the records forced into the public record by Morley v. CIA over CIA objections have had “public benefit.”

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In praise of Judge Richard Leon

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon,

Judge Richard Leon

A reader responds to my post on the latest developments in Morley v. CIA with these observations::

“Jeff, for what it’s worth, I have appeared before Judge Leon several times. I have found him to be fair, honest and willing to step outside the box in needed. I would not prefer any other judge on that court, except perhaps Ricky Roberts.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals hear oral arguments on Leon’s latest ruling in Morley v. CIA on November 6.
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The latest legal brief in Morley v. CIA

Joannides medal

Retired CIA officer George Joannides (left) received the Career Intelligence Medal in 1981, two years after misleading House investigators about what he knew about Lee Oswald. (Photo credit: CIA)

Here’s the latest legal brief that I have filed in my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking long secret CIA records relevant to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The brief, written by my attorney Jim Lesar, challenges the CIA’s contention that the disclosures forced by Morley v. CIA have no “public benefit.” Understandably worried about the agency’s credibility on the JFK story, the CIA’s lawyers are essentially arguing that the lawsuit is frivolous.

The CIA’s problem is that more than 30 news organizations worldwide disagree. New sites ranging  from New York Times to the Dallas Morning News to the Huffington Post to the UK’s Daily Mail covered the lawsuit and the resulting disclosures.

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Morley v. CIA: highlights from the decision

Highlights from the opinion of Judge Stephen Williams concerning the FOIA lawsuit for JFK assassination, Morley v. CIA. 

The decision was affirmed by Judges Douglas Ginsburg and Sri Srinvasan.

I’m the plaintiff and I have added my comments:

The Court:

Morley contends that some of the documents turned over—a couple of travel records and a photograph and citation relating to a career medal once received by Joannides—shed some light on President Kennedy’s assassination, but the value of these documents is at best unclear.

Morley:  If the CIA wants to clear up the story of George Joannides’ secret operations in 1963, it is free to do so at any time. I hope they will do so before October 25, 2017 when the JFK Records Act mandates the release of the agency’s still-secret JFK assassination-related records.

The Court:

Morley’s request had potential public value. He has proffered—and the CIA has not disputed—that Joannides served as the CIA case officer for a Cuban group, the DRE, with whose officers Oswald was in contact prior to the assassination.

Morley: No one is much surprised that the CIA sees no “public benefit” in talking publicly about certain covert operations in late 1963. That’s politically understandable in Langley. It is not legally acceptable in the context of JFK, says the court.

Where that subject is the Kennedy assassinationan event with few rivals in national trauma and in the array of passionately held conflicting explanationsshowing potential public value is relatively easy.

Morley: This is not a controversial proposition. Full JFK disclosure has public value. The CIA disagrees but the law and Judge Williams and common sense say otherwise.

 

 

National Archives creates a team to review JFK records for 2017 release

In a recent email to researcher Bill Kelly, Martha Wagner Murphy, chief of the Special Access and FOIA Staff at the National Archives at College Park, disclosed some welcome news.

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Judge Leon’s blind justice

Mother Jones has an interesting piece on the jurisprudential wisdom of Judge Richard J. Leon, the legal arbiter who sat in judgment of my FOIA lawsuit for JFK assassination records, Morley v. CIA.

They say justice should be blind, and in my case Judge Leon truly was.

Fifty one years later, federal judge upholds the CIA’s right to keep JFK secrets

Ten years ago I filed a lawsuit seeking the records of a deceased CIA officer involved in the events leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy and its confusing investigatory aftermath. Read more

Full disclosure is a dangerous thing

CIA employee’s quest to release information ‘destroyed my entire career’ – The Washington Post.

Glomared again: How the NSA stonewalls on FOIA requests

Emails show that that the NSA is refusing to entertain requests from private citizens about whether the agency stored their metadata, the excellent Jason Leopold reports in The Guardian.

“The emails provide a rare look inside the development of a ‘neither confirm nor deny policy,’ known as a ‘Glomar response,’ and the back-and-forth discussions that took place at the highest levels of the agency,” Leopold writes.

JFK and the ‘Glomar response’

The CIA used the “Glomar response” to fend off my lawsuit for records related to the secret operations run by deceased CIA officer George Joannides in Miami and New Orleans in 1963-64. In court filings, agency officers would neither confirm nor deny that Joannides participated in any particular operation, acknowledging only that he worked undercover in the Miami station in 1962-64.

This form of artful dodgery can make it hard for the U.S. government to keep track of its story.

U.S Attorney Ron Machen neither confirms nor denies.

Last November 11, Ron Machen, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, submitted a sworn statement in federal court asserting that Joannides maintained a residence in New Orleans during his 1963-64 assignment to the Miami station. Referring to a document that the lawsuit forced the CIA to disclose, Machen wrote:  “New Orleans is clearly listed as Joannides’ place of residence when on home leave.”

(You can read Machen’s sworn statement here; see page 14.)

What Machen didn’t know — and what I immediately pointed out in a post for JFK Facts — is that Joannides’s family lived in Miami at the time, raising questions the CIA really, really, really does not want to answer:

Why did Joannides maintain a residence in New Orleans in 1963-64?

Was he running an operation involving pro-Castro activist Lee Harvey Oswald and members of the Cuban Student Directorate, an anti-Castro organization that Joannides funded with CIA money?

Never mind. Three weeks later, in another sworn declaration to Judge Richard Leon, Machen tried to retract his admission that Joannides had lived in New Orleans.

“Morley’s claims of … purported new information that Joannides ‘traveled to’ or ‘lived’ in New Orleans during which time he ‘monitored’ Oswald are false and inaccurate,” he stated in a Dec. 3 court filing (see page 2).

So, if both of Machen’s sworn statements are true, Joannides had a place of residence in New Orleans — yet never traveled or lived there.

How Joannides managed that feat of espionage remains unknown.

Confused? You’ve been Glomared!

By the way, the term “Glomar” refers to the Glomar Explorer, a secret unmanned submarine that the CIA used to try to recover a Soviet submarine that sank in the Pacific Ocean in the 1970s. Not wanting to let the Soviets know about the unique underwater craft, the agency chose to neither confirm nor deny its existence, thus giving birth to the “Glomar response.”

More on Morley v. CIA:

CIA admits undercover officer lived in New Orleans (November 11, 2013)

5 Decades Later, Some JFK Probe FIles Still Sealed (AP, August 18. 2013)

Justice Dept. denies CIA officer was honored for cover-up (JFK Facts, December 17, 2012)

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

CIA Is 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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to quell JFK conspiracy theories

Cass Sunstein fears disclosure

Professor Cass Sunstein writes from his perch at Bloomberg.

“Pick your topic: Ukraine, the National Security Agency, assassinations of national leaders [emphasis added] … it’s child’s play to assemble a host of apparent clues, and to connect a bunch of dots, to support a relevant conspiracy theory.”

Sunstein is surely correct that It is easy to concoct an implausible theory about who killed JFK.

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AP: Obama has failed on open government promise

AP graphic

In this new study of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, US cites security more to censor, deny records, Associated Press reporters Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum make two points that show President Obama has failed to deliver on his promise of “a new era in open government.”

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Sen. Feinstein’s learning curve

From UNREDACTED:

Senator Feinstein Finds Out How it Feels to be a FOIA Requester

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