According to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court filed this week in Washington, the language of the Freedom of Information Act is clear:
The court may assess against the United States reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in any case under this section in which the complainant has substantially prevailed.
The Obama Justice Department doesn’t want to admit it but, in Morley v. CIA, yours truly substantially prevailed. Will the Supreme Court be interested?
It’s a long shot, but I try to think like Steph Curry; sometimes a long shot is worth taking.
My FOIA lawsuit, filed 13 summers ago, has forced disclosure of some interesting information about the assassination of President Kennedy that the CIA would you prefer you not know not pay attention to.
A career CIA officer, George Joannides, received an agency medal, in part for his role in obstructing Congress’s efforts to investigate JFK’s death.
I even obtained a photo of Joannides receiving the medal.
There was no “public benefit” in my discoveries, the CIA replied via various Justice Department consigliere. The agency’s reasoning has been ratified three times by Judge Richard Leon.
Judge Leon divined that the records I had obtained–two travel documents showing Joannides traveled to New Orleans during the time of the Warren Commission investigation; and a photo and CIA citation Joannides received in 1981–were largely worthless as history.
“Nothing other than pure speculation connects any of it to the Kennedy assassination,” the court said.
The evident media interest in what I discovered–including stories in Politico, Associated Press, and Project Censored— were not evidence of “public benefit.: The court knew better than to succumb to such vulgarity.
Judge Leon, like most federal judges, is mercifully innocent of the problematic nature of the historical record of JFK’s assassination. He, like others, naturals rebels against the idea that there might any significance to the fact that the CIA was running “psychological warfare” operations in New Orleans in the summer of 1963 when an erratic communist named Lee Oswald crossed the path of various paid CIA assets.
It could not possibly mean anything that Joannides maintained a residence in New Orleans, as U.S. Attorney Ron Machen affirmed under oath in a federal court filing.
In my affidavits to the court, I documented that I was not speculating when I said that a CIA-funded anti-Castro group, guided and monitored by Joannides, had published the first JFK conspiracy theory ever to reach public print. The CIA does not deny the point.
Judge Leon was not impressed. Asserting the “public-benefit” factor requires more than speculation of an unknown potential future benefit, he ruled against me.
I was so depressed. Then a unanimous DC Court of Appeals came to my rescue.
On appeal, the court of appeals unanimously vacated the district court’s denial of petitioner’s motion and remanded the matter once again to the district court because the district judge improperly analyzed the public-benefit factor by assessing the public value of the information received rather than “the potential public value of the information sought” (App. 2 quoting Davy, 550 F.3d at 1159).
While agreeing with the lower court that the value of the released documents is “at best unclear” and appear to reveal little, if anything, about the President’s assassination, the court ruled that it was ultimately irrelevant to Davy’s requirement that a court assess “the potential public value of the information sought,” not the public value of the information received (
What I sought had–and has–a lot of potential value, I think: CIA records related to covert operations in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.
What Morley v. CIA discovered was that the agency still hides–well into the 21st century– a trove of information on the subject. Will we see these records in October 2017? President Trump or President Clinton will have to decide.
Or maybe the Supreme Court will hear respond to my petition for writ of certeriorari. Its a long shot but…
The CIA’s performance in the matter deserves judicial review.
The agency acknowledged the existence of scores of documents related to Joannides’ work as the chief of anti-Castro “psychological warfare” operations in Miami at the time of JFK’s murder. These operations took place more than a half century ago.
The agency has been fighting in Washington federal court for more than a decade to make sure that you do not learn what was going on in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. It would harm your “national security,” you see.
What the government is saying in its frightened response to Morley v. CIA, is that you, the average citizen, are safer, not knowing what they’re hiding about the events of 1963. P
Serious powerful people in Washington really and truly believe such nonsense–and they really want you to believe it. In fact, it is, on its face, a crazy argument. It is ludicrous and paranoid, if it is not offered in bad faith.
That’s why I’m taking JFK to the Supreme Court.