I’ll be in federal court on March 19 talking about key missing JFK files

Barrett Prettyman Courthouse

Where federal judges will hear oral arguments about CIA JFK files.

On Monday morning March 19  my attorneys Jim Lesar and Dan Alcorn and I will appear at the Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse in Washington for oral arguments in my long-running lawsuit, Morley v. CIA.

The issue before the three-judge panel: has there been a “public benefit” from the lawsuit’s disclosure of long-secret documents about deceased CIA officer George Joannides?

Lesar will make the common sense case that widespread media interest in Morley v. CIA is proof of public benefit. The editors of the New York Times, Fox News, the San Diego Union, St. Paul Pioneer Press, CBS News in Dallas, and the New Yorker, among many other news organizations have seen fit to report on 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)

The Times, the Daily Mail,  and a dozen other news sites published a photo of Joannides receiving a CIA medal after he stonewalled congressional investigators about what he knew about the Cuban contacts of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

What’s New?

Joannides’ curious, if not suspicious, role in the JFK story was utterly unknown before I filed my lawsuit. My argument: greater knowledge about the JFK story is benefits the public.

The CIA wants their day in court too: Benton Peterson, a Trump Justice Department attorney, representing the agency, will argue that there has been no “public benefit” from the information obtained under Morley v. CIA.  The CIA, he will say, should not have to pay my court costs for 15 years of successful litigation.

The CIA’s argument is revealing. The agency has been fighting my request for Joannides’ files since I sued in December 2003, They want to say publicly: Pay no attention to the story of George Joannides. They also want to say: And pay no attention to this Morley character. He’s a schemer who filed this lawsuit to get the government to pay the copying costs of his research. (The Obama Justice Department actually made this argument at one point.)

DRE Trinchera

The first JFK conspiracy theory

The CIA needs their day in court for purposes of JFK damage control. They need to assure the public and the courts there is no benefit from studying the story of Joannides, a CIA official who funded the first JFK conspiracy theory, who stonewalled JFK investigators, and who received a medal for his career job performance.

What is telling is that the CIA couples the “no benefit” argument with the improbable claim that scores of Joannides’ files from 1963 and 1978 cannot be made public–for reasons of “national security.”  The files are 54 years old; Joannides has been dead for 27 years. Which begs the question, why is the CIA so sensitive about his obscure story?

Oral arguments in Morley v. CIA will shed light on this question, just in time for the release of the last of the JFK files on April 2018.

The message from Langley and the Trump Justice Department could not be clearer. You will get no benefit from understanding the story of the late George Joannides–which is so secret we wouldn’t possibly tell you anything more about him or his actions in 1963 or 1978. In an argument about JFK records, the CIA’s claim is well worth understanding: You will not benefit from knowing something so secret.

I’m looking forward to my day in court.








  1. jack navin says:

    Who ultimately decides what “public benefit” means? How many members of the public must benefit to justify releasing the data? 1? Ten million? Trump is our publicly elected President and he’s made it clear this is something he wants for us all. Does it benefit the public to have a greater understanding of their government’s secret agencies and actions? You bet. Why can’t these proceedings be viewed live through electronic technology? Would John F. Kennedy have wanted this information made available?

    Jefferson, they are afraid of you and your persistence, your dogged determination to expose these people and their deeds. You are absolutely correct. I am a participating member of said “public” and their obeying the law is of great benefit and importance to me. You can’t let up. The public needs you. You have done nothing personally to deserve their opposition, to incur enormous legal costs for demanding that our government do what it should have done without anyone asking them.

    How does the public benefit when our government refuses to follow the law–by publishing the documents? It destroys our confidence in their integrity.

  2. Jeff says:

    As you write “The message from Langley and the Trump Justice Department could not be clearer. You will get no benefit from understanding the story of the late George Joannides,which is so secret we wouldn’t possibly tell you anything more about him or his actions in 1963 or 1978.” Let’s boil this down, Langley and the DOJ are so out of touch with what the average American expects and demands. YES, I/WE want to know all the facts about Joannides, and YES, the public will greatly benefit from the release of all the information. The link below provides more context around your lawsuit.


  3. I am a retired American, currently living in Europe, but I would be in line for your court hearing were I back in the States. I’ve attended Federal trials in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. (Watergate and the Rodney King Appeals trial) among others and still groan that there isn’t universal access, for no-profit, with a camera at the back of the court as a spectator. One could actually see what anyone like me standing in line for hours has to do now.

    You and Mr Lesar have done not only the JFK studies, but American culture and history itself a huge service. Your work should be compensated as whistleblowers, since without independent searchers, this clever multi-leveled cover-up and murder, would have succeeded beyond the 50 plus years it polluted the American air.

  4. Richard Sullins says:

    It’s interesting that the same federal government which had no problem in rushing to make public a classified memorandum based on a foreign intelligence investigation into meddling with our democratic processes still maintains that the release of documents about an obscure man who has been dead for 27 years could cause irreparable harm to our national security. What am I missing here?

  5. RonnieWayne says:

    Best of luck. Thank you, Mr. Lesar and Alcorn for your perseverance in pursuit of the Truth. In light of them continuing to keep the files secret I still have to wonder… If Joannides was stationed at JMWAVE in Florida the latter part of 1963 why did he maintain a residence in New Orleans at the time? Why did he give so much money to the DRE every month? Who authorized it? Thanks for finding this much info and more Jeff.

  6. Jane Augustine says:

    Members of the public need to know the extent of the CIA’s involvement with the JFK assassination so that they can vote to prevent future malfeasance.

  7. Kennedy63 says:

    Interesting slant, Mr. Morley. Would not the interest of National Security be well served, were John Q. Public considered an essential player in the security of the Nation? What greater “public benefit” has derived from “WE THE PEOPLE,” who collectively fund our government and our National Security, then the security of this Nation? It would take more than one spy to militarily defend this nation; therefore, Joannides’ CIA file(s), singularly released, constitutes a prima-facia case with “public benefit,” assuming Mr. Joannides was publicly funded and acted on behalf of a publicly funded “WE THE PEOPLE” agency.
    Mr. Morley, perhaps the CIA would settle if everyone waived the legal fees? Even if CIA pays your fees, WE THE PEOPLE are actually paying.

  8. Mark Landsbaum says:

    It begins with flawed logic: that Americans must prove they benefit from knowing what their government doesn’t want them to know. The burden of proof should be reversed.

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