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)







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